Review of Jurassic World

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Back, when I was a wee lad, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I could even rattle off their scientific names, which is a wonder given that these days I cannot even pronounce the surnames of foreign footballers. My love of prehistoric creatures was replaced with robots however, once the Transformers cartoon came to my attention. I briefly rediscovered how cool dinos can be when I watched Denver the Last Dinosaur… um I mean the original Jurassic Park. Sadly, the sequel movies weren’t very good. Over two decades after Steven Spielberg wowed audiences with the first film, a wild Jurassic World has appeared. Can it revitalize the franchise? Read on to find out.

OVERVIEW

Our tale begins with two youngsters (Zach and Gray) preparing for a trip. Aside from their suitcases, the boys are carrying the (emotional) baggage of their parents getting divorced. Hopefully visiting the Jurassic World theme park will help to get their thoughts away from such depressing matters. If you ask me Disney Land would have made for a more fun vacation, but I guess they got free tickets because their aunt is the park manager. Auntie Claire won’t have much time to spent with her nephews though, as she is busy working on a new attraction. In order to keep attendances up, management have genetically engineered a lizard that is deadlier than a T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?

In news that should surprise no one, the above-mentioned Indominus Rex escapes from its enclosure. Owen Grady, a raptor trainer played by Chris Pratt, is tasked with capturing the beast before it begins to chow down on tasty customers. Pratt cements his place as a creditable Hollywood action star with this performance. He kicks arse in the movie, but isn’t able to emulate the charisma seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. Part of the reason is that he doesn’t have funny sidekicks to banter with. Owen is instead paired up with redhead Claire, for a shoehorned romance that lacks chemistry. If you ask me, Owen had a closer relationship with the raptors. Who can blame him? No one likes gingers.

VERDICT

Overall, I think this movie does enough to save the series from extinction. I wasn’t ever bored, even if the two-hour running time was a little excessive. The hunt for a bloodthirsty dinosaur didn’t need to be padded out with a military subplot, which revolved around the creation of chimeras. One thing that I found daft was that Claire spends the entire film wearing high heels. Not the best choice of footwear for someone who is constantly running away from danger. I guess no matter what, life… um style finds a way. Midway during the film actress Bryce Dallas Howard unbuttons her blouse. I suspect the move was to get viewers to stare at her cleavage, rather than her ridiculous shoes.

My rating for Jurassic World is a three out of five. It lacks the magic and suspense of the original, but is entertaining to watch (which is more than I can say for the last two movies.) The dinosaur effects are decent and help to mask how bland the human characters are. I didn’t feel anything when people got gobbled up. On the flip side there were moments were I felt sympathy for the wildlife casualties. These included the passing of a mortally wounded Brontosaurus and the scene where a juvenile Triceratops is assaulted. Sniff, poor dinosaurs. When I finish this review I’m going to watch a cartoon to cheer up. How about The Land Before Time? It looks cute, so I am certain it is devoid of any heart-breaking tragedies.

Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Lucasfilm’s output has increased dramatically ever since the Disney acquisition. There was a time when you would have to wait years for a new Lucasfilm release. Nowadays the studio churns out Star Wars flicks with the frequency that EA brings out a FIFA game. For the foreseeable future cinemagoers can expect to see a mainline Star Wars movie or a prequel spin-off on an annual basis. Rogue One was the first Star Wars prequel, under the Disney banner, to come out and following on its heels is Solo: A Star Wars Story. Over the course of 135 minutes this feature film chronicles how the titular smuggler met Chewbacca and how he got his mitts on the iconic Millennium Falcon.

OVERVIEW

Solo is an intergalactic heist adventure directed by Lord and Miller. Um, I mean directed by Ron Howard. The duo responsible for the hilarious Lego movies were axed from the project, as they allegedly didn’t stick to Jonathan Kasdan’s script. Shame, because the pair’s comedic flair could have bolstered several lines of cringey dialogue. Anyways, moving back on topic. Solo sees Han and Chewie team up with a veteran criminal named Tobias Beckett (played by Woody Harrelson.) The trio have been hired by the Crimson Dawn syndicate to steal some precious coaxium fuel. If the group can successfully pull off the robbery they shall be rich beyond their wildest dreams. Should they fail however, they shall be killed quicker than Captain Phasma in an action scene.

Joining the abovementioned rogues are Han’s childhood sweetheart Qi’ra, along with L3-37 and Lando Calrissian. L3-37 surprised me by being the film’s funniest character. She is a parody of modern day social justice warriors (so much so that feminist money grubber Anita Sarkeesian recently bashed the bot on Twitter.) Just like a rabid SJW, this mechanical lady trumpets the cause of racial equality – in this case rights for androids. Donald Glover meanwhile takes the award for best performance with his portrayal of Lando. Glover has more charisma than Lando has capes and that is saying a lot. In one scene viewers see that the future head of Cloud City needs an entire wardrobe just to store his collection of dashing capes.

VERDICT

My rating for Solo: A Star Wars Story is a three out of five. It’s better than the underwhelming trailer suggests, but lacks the magic and grandeur one expects from this franchise. The movie feels more like Firefly than Star Wars. All that said Solo was more fun to watch than the disappointing Last Jedi. I dug the action sequences, even if the drama is somewhat hamstrung by the story being a prequel. No matter how precarious things get, given the tale’s place in the Star Wars timeline, you know that at the very least Han, Chewie and Lando will escape unscathed. Alden Ehrenreich’s acting was a mixed bag. I never bought that he is Han Solo. He was however a likable enough protagonist and had good onscreen chemistry with his hairy sidekick Chewbacca.

I reckon that the movie would have benefitted from a trim on the cutting room floor. The straightforward plot didn’t need to exceed two hours in my opinion. For the most part the story is predictable, although there are a few neat twists in the final act. I was especially surprised by the identity of Crimson Dawn’s true mastermind. Fingers crossed that said villain will appear more prominently in a future prequel spin-off. Given its well-publicised production troubles Solo turned out more entertaining than it deserved to be. I wonder how this version of the film compares to the vision Lord and Miller had in mind. Sadly we shall never know as the directors were Lego… um let go.

Review of Deadpool 2

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There is no sign that the superhero movie genre is dying. Perhaps it is immortal, thanks to regenerative powers, just like Deadpool. Speaking of Deadpool, the merc with the mouth is back in a sequel to one of the most successful R rated flicks ever. In this follow up to the 2016 hit, Deadpool abandons the life of an assassin and becomes an X-Man instead. Correction. He becomes an X-Men trainee. Wade Wilson’s inaugural X-Men mission doesn’t go well though, culminating in him shooting a care worker in the head. The murder lands him in the slammer, where he grudgingly befriends a tubby teenage mutant named Firefist.

OVERVIEW

James Cameron recently moaned about the number of superhero movies that are coming out. If you ask me he is just bitter, because Marvel characters love to rip off his ideas. Deadpool 2 for example shares more than a passing resemblance to the Terminator. In this film Deadpool is tasked with protecting a youngster from a time travelling cyborg. Doesn’t that sound familiar? The cyborg in question is a chap named Cable, who is played by Josh Brolin. Cable has set his sights on Firefist, as the obese mutant is responsible for the death of his family in the future. Why must overweight people cause so much pain? I still haven’t forgiven Israel’s Eurovision singer for harming my ears with her terrible music.

In order to take down Cable our masked hero assembles a team that he dubs X-Force. Poking fun at political correctness, Deadpool explains that X-Force is more progressive than X-Men, as their moniker is gender neutral. X-Force’s ranks include Old Spice muscleman Terry Crews, an invisible bloke named Vanisher and an alien called Shatterstar. Their screen time pales in comparison to Domino, who happens to be the group’s sole female recruit. Domino, who is portrayed by Atlanta actress Zazie Beetz, possesses the powers of cleavage, crazy hair and good luck. In some ways she reminds me of Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2.

VERDICT

Deadpool 2 is the type of movie I suspect I will enjoy more on repeated viewings. The script is so packed with jokes that multiple screenings will be required to catch all the gags. I also think that my opinion of the film was affected by overly high expectations. Still who can blame me? Deadpool was my favourite release of 2016 and prior to watching the sequel I kept hearing from acquaintances how funny it is. To be honest I didn’t laugh during the first forty minutes, of this two-hour feature. Part of the reason is the tragedy that befalls Deadpool in the first act, but it must also be said that I didn’t find the meta quips and pop culture references to be all that amusing either.

Thankfully things pick up once Deadpool forms X-Force. I found the scene were the team parachutes down, to rescue Firefist, hilarious. The action ramps up from that point too. I was impressed by the fight choreography that director David Leitch (of John Wick fame) brought to the table. Josh Brolin’s performance was also excellent. The man behind Thanos worked well as the straight man to Ryan Reynolds’ zany Deadpool. Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack. Akin to Guardians of the Galaxy, this film knows how to enhance a scene by utilizing nostalgic tunes. Overall I enjoyed the original Deadpool more, as it had a tighter story, but Deadpool 2 still holds up as a solid continuation to the series. My rating is three and a half Chimichangas out of five.

Review of Batman Ninja

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This animated movie, featuring character designs from the creator of Afro Samurai, sees the Caped Crusader get transported back to Feudal Japan. Rather ironic, given that Batman is pretty much a modern day ninja. Just like a Japanese assassin, the Dark Knight uses stealth and martial arts to subdue his enemies… and they both look cool in black attire too. How did Batman end up in the past you ask? That’s all explained in the opening scene. Gorilla Grodd’s time machine is responsible for Batman’s historical trip and he didn’t go there alone. Catwoman, the Joker, Harley Quinn and various other villains have joined him along for the ride.

OVERVIEW

Batman Ninja’s plot follows Bruce Wayne who is stuck in the past. He has to find a way back to present day Gotham, but before that he needs to defeat numerous rogues who have taken over the land. Poison Ivy, Deathstroke, Two-Face and Penguin reached Japan two years prior to Batman’s arrival and in the interim they have managed to assemble sizable armies. Can the outnumbered DC hero triumph against so many adversaries? Usually I would say yes, but victory is far from assured as this version of Batman is dumber than Adam West’s rendition of the character. On more than one occasion he is outwitted by betrayals that even his young sidekicks can see coming a mile away.

Gullible isn’t a trait most people associate with Batman. The protagonist acts out of character throughout the eighty-five minute running time. He even losses confidence when the Batmobile is destroyed. Batman Begins to question how he can succeed without the aid of modern tech, which makes no sense. This is the guy who can topple the likes of Superman, even with a handicap of possessing no powers. Who cares about a car he can easily afford to replace? Guile and a few Chiropteran shaped boomerangs are the only things Batman usually needs to save the day. The tone of this motion picture isn’t faithful to the source material. It feels more like a low tier anime rather than a traditional Batman tale.

VERDICT

I watched the English language version of the movie and wasn’t too impressed with the voice acting. To be fair though, I think the poor performances were due to cheesy dialogue rather than a lack of talent. If you ask me the script feels like something penned by an amateur fanfic writer who grew up watching eighties action movies. Batman Ninja’s sole saving grace would have to be its visuals. The CG graphics are quite striking, although there are a few scenes were the animation would have benefitted from some more frames. Nothing major, but said moments made it seem like I was watching a 30 FPS video game rather than a movie studio production.

My rating for Batman Ninja is a one out of five. The movie didn’t do anything for me. During my screening I kept looking at my watch and for a brief moment I even fell asleep. Had I not committed myself to writing a review of this flick, for the billions of followers who read this blog, I doubt I would have lasted till the very end. Despite it not being my cup of tea I suspect that there will be an audience for this film. Some viewers will have fun with how “bat shit” crazy it gets. The finale for example features a giant mech fighting a swarm of monkeys. Nuff said. Overall, the action makes for a good trailer. Sadly however there isn’t enough substance here to carry an entire movie.

Review of Avengers: Infinity War

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Once again Earth’s mightiest heroes must unite to save the world from destruction in a crossover movie spectacular. This time round the Avengers band together to take on Thanos, an intergalactic overlord who possesses a chin that resembles a scrotum. Most of your favourite Marvel cinematic characters make an appearance in this film, with the exception of Scott Lang who is occupied with other matters in the upcoming Ant-Man and Wasp. Hawkeye is also absent, but who cares? I always found Clint Barton to be rather bland. Besides he doesn’t have any superpowers. Good aim? Bah, what’s so special about that? Call of Duty is full of people who never miss their target.

OVERVIEW

Avengers: Infinity War begins with Thanos establishing his badass credentials by effortlessly pounding the Hulk into submission. He is on a quest to acquire the six Infinity Gems, which will grant him the power to purge half of the universe’s life forms. Standing between Thanos and his insane genocide scheme is Thor, who has teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (led by a pudgy looking Star Lord.) Meanwhile on Earth – Thanos’ lackeys hunt down Vision, who is in possession of the Mind Stone. The underlings ask if Vision would “mind” parting with the Mind Stone, but he isn’t receptive to the idea as the jewel is the source of the android’s sentience.

Thanos’ minions also strike The Big Apple, after learning that New York resident Dr Strange holds the Time Stone that they seek. Unfortunately for them NYC has more heroes than yellow taxicabs. Their attack catches the attention of both Iron Man and his wall crawling apprentice Peter Parker. Even with their combined might, the triple S group of Strange, Stark and Spidey struggle against Thanos’ army. If they are to have any chance of beating the invaders more help will be required. Captain America (the latest hero to rock an unshaven look) could potentially turn the tide. Tracking him down might be difficult though, given that he is lying low after the events of Civil War.

OVERVIEW

My rating for Avengers: Infinity War is a four out of five. Not the best Marvel movie perhaps, but a good popcorn flick nonetheless. The wafer thin plot is just an excuse for plastering the screen with 149 minutes of non-stop action. I usually suffer from battle fatigue when a movie is laden with fights, but this one managed to keep my interest from start to finish. The script keeps things fresh by switching locations at a good clip. Unlike some other movies, the bloated cast wasn’t a detriment and everyone involved gets a moment to shine. Marvel productions are known for their humour and Infinity War is no exception to that rule. Drax the Destroyer’s quips in particular made me laugh a lot.

The jokes help to balance out what would otherwise be a depressing tale. Younger viewers will know the pain I felt back in the eighties, when I watched Transformers: The Movie, as many popular characters meet their demise in this feature. Thanos stands out as a rare example of a Marvel villain done right. He is cruel and unpredictable, but also has a compassionate side as shown in his scenes with stepdaughter Gamora. In a warped way he believes that his cosmic cull is an act of mercy. He wants to spare other worlds from suffering the ruin that befell his planet due to overpopulation. All that said, he is still a dick… and no that isn’t a reference to his nut-sack lower lip.

 

Review of Batman: The Enemy Within

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I am the son of a chemist and a mathematician. People call me iron fifty-nine. What is my name? Leave your answer in the comments section below. Why am I opening this review with a riddle? Well, it seemed appropriate given that the first villain Bruce Wayne faces in Batman: The Enemy Within is the Riddler. I have to say that the aforementioned Edward Nigma is more bloodthirsty than I remember. This version of the character likes to place victims in death traps one would expect to find in a Saw movie. Fail to answer the criminal’s puzzles and you will get zapped or have your fingers sawn off. Ouch! That would make typing out reviews most difficult.

OVERVIEW

Batman: The Enemy Within is the follow up to 2016’s excellent Batman: The Telltale Series. This five-part adventure sees the Caped Crusader take on a group known as The Pact. Apart from the abovementioned Riddler, the group’s members include Bane, Harley Quinn and Mr Freeze. To this day my favourite take on Mr Freeze has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rendition of the character (due to the delightful ice jokes.) Sadly I can’t think of any ice puns to insert into this post, as they have all “slipped” out of my mind. From the rogue’s gallery of baddies Harley Quinn is the one who gets the most screen time. Interestingly she is an established criminal who the Joker has a crush on, rather than vice versa.

Ah yes, how could I forget the Joker. This game chronicles how a former Arkham inmate named John Doe transformed into the Clown Prince of Crime. John made a brief appearance in the last title – helping Bruce escape from the asylum he had been imprisoned in. The pair formed a friendship during the breakout, which carries over into this instalment. How the relationship develops will depend on the decisions made throughout the game’s five episodes. Play nice with John and he may become a vigilante who aids Batman. Betray him however and you run the risk of turning John into a crazed psychopath. Tread carefully when answering John’s questions… just like when your girlfriend asks if she looks fat.

VERDICT

My rating for Batman: The Enemy Within is a four out of five. When compared to other Telltale superhero projects it is a huge improvement over Guardians of the Galaxy and a worthy successor to their last Batman release. Like with most Telltale offerings the game would best be described as an interactive movie. You influence the outcome of scenes by picking from a list of dialogue options. Battles are resolved via quick time events. Compared to its predecessor there are fewer puzzles to solve. Going off memory, the crime scene investigation segments have been scaled down in this sequel. On the plus side The Enemy Within suffers from fewer bugs and visual glitches. You won’t see a pair of flying eyeballs in this one!

If you enjoyed the first game or are a fan of the Dark Knight in general I can highly recommend Batman: The Enemy Within. Telltale once again delivers a great story that isn’t afraid of playing around with the Batman mythology. Character origins are tweaked and prominent figures get killed, leading to several surprises. My only gripe with the script is that for large portions of the game you play as Bruce Wayne, rather than his cooler masked alter ego. Sadly that can’t be avoided, as obese government agent Amanda Waller blackmails Bruce into going undercover. Grr, I hate her. Waller is so fat that when doctors diagnosed her with a flesh-eating virus they gave her 90 years to live.

Review of Metropolis: Lux Obscura

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Puzzle games sure can be raunchy. First there was the sex filled HuniePop and now we get Metropolis: Lux Obscura. This debut title from indie developer Ktulhu Solutions features images of topless women and comic book panels depicting intercourse. Isn’t it silly how some publishers feel obligated to censor swimsuits in their games? Seems like a gross overreaction to me, given that Ktulhu Solutions can sell their mature wares on consoles without causing any controversy. Perhaps the video game industry has finally grown up, sparing us from Mass Effect style lovemaking where participants do the horizontal mambo whilst fully clothed.

OVERVIEW

In Metropolis: Lux Obscura players follow the exploits of a baseball-wearing chap named Jon Lockhart. The protagonist of this tale has returned to his old stomping grounds, after serving a lengthy prison sentence. Said stomping grounds happen to be a city where crime rates are so high it would make Detroit blush. It’s a place where bikers harass the populace, a homicidal Elvis impersonator roams the streets and corrupt cops beat up the citizenry (even the Caucasian ones). To make ends meet Jon does odd jobs for a Mafioso named Falcone. Most of the earnings he makes end up going towards booze and strippers.

The story is told through stylish graphic novel cut scenes and how it all pans out will depend on the locations you choose to visit. Every now and then Jon gets mixed up in a brawl. Whether he emerges victorious from these altercations will depend on how the player fares in battle sequences that are reminiscent of Puzzle Quest. To avoid a Game Over players need to knock out their foe before their adversary manages to deplete Jon’s health points. Lining up three or more fist icons inflicts damage. Conversely, forming a row of first aid kits replenishes HP. Watch out for the police badges. If you inadvertently match three of those Jon will suffer pain. The Police hurt because Sting has a bad voice.

VERDICT

My rating for Metropolis: Lux Obscura is a three out of five. I enjoyed the game, but was disappointed by the lack of content. Even with four endings to unlock I managed to platinum it all after just a few hours. I wouldn’t describe the game as challenging; even if I lost the occasional fight due to misfortune with the randomly generated tiles. Yes, bad luck is to blame. I didn’t lose because my puny brain struggles with puzzles! What helps counter the potential difficulty are the abilities Jon earns after every encounter. These upgradable perks allow him to increase the effectiveness of health packs, force enemies to skip turns and can even replace the detrimental police badges with anger themed damage boosters.

Anyone who dislikes match three games can safely give Metropolis a miss, because the story by itself isn’t worth the price of admission. The script feels like a poor man’s Sin City. It’s heavy on cliché and grit, but deficient in substance. I think the top-notch graphics and competent voice acting deserved a better plot. Perhaps that’s why the developer resorted to boobs and fornication? Distract the punters with eye candy and they won’t notice the narrative’s weaknesses. Maybe I am being a tad harsh, as puzzle games aren’t renowned for their fiction. At the very least I can say that Metropolis has a better story than Tetris. The strippers are also much hotter than L-block.