Review of Logan

logan

No one is immune to the effects of old age – not even Wolverine. Thanks to his healing factor, Logan has maintained a youthful appearance for many decades. In the year 2029 he is however starting to look worse for wear. The alloy that coats Logan’s bones is beginning to poison his body and dull the former X-Man’s restorative powers. Injuries no longer regenerate within seconds and even worse his facial hair is starting to turn grey. There’s nothing that reminds one of their impending mortality more than faded follicles. I myself refuse to grow a beard, because the sight of a goatee speckled with white patches depresses me.

OVERVIEW

In the not too distant future, mutants are virtually extinct. Logan has retired from the superhero game and become a limo driver, who chauffeurs douche bags to parties. His income is mostly spent on booze and medication. The pills he purchases are sedatives, used to treat the seizures that afflict Logan’s mentor Charles Xavier. Professor X no longer has control of his telepathic gifts, making him a danger to others. Whenever the bald psychic has a fit everyone in the vicinity is struck with excruciating migraines, which equal the hangover pain I felt that one time I binged on whisky.

Wolverine comes out of retirement, to go on one last adventure, when he is hired to escort a youngster upstate. The destination is Canada, the land of free healthcare and refuge from malevolent conglomerates. Laura, the girl who Logan is tasked with protecting, escaped from a research lab and is now being pursued by cyborg mercenaries who have orders to apprehend her. Comic book readers will be well aware that Laura (aka X-23) is a clone who possesses superhuman healing powers and metal claws. Hmmm, I don’t think we need to administer a DNA test to determine who her biological father is.

VERDICT

My rating for Logan is four stars. It’s easily the best movie from the Wolverine trilogy. Um okay, that’s really not saying much. Let me rephrase that! Logan is one of the better live action X-Men movies to date. If this turns out to be the final time that Hugh Jackman plays the role of Wolverine, it can be said that he bowed out on a high note. One plus that Logan has over other titles in the franchise is its age rating. No longer constrained by a 12 classification, now that Deadpool has popularized R-rated blockbusters, Logan is free to deliver satisfyingly visceral action. Prepare yourself for plentiful scenes were claws impale crania.

Not to be outdone by Jackman’s exceptional performance is Patrick Stewart, as Professor X. He delivers humorous quips and sagely advice with aplomb, in addition to convincingly portraying Xavier’s bouts of dementia. It’s so tragic seeing the once majestic Captain Picard reduced to a wheelchair bound senile coot. Harder to assess is the acting chops of Dafne Keen (Laura) because she is mute for a large portion of the 137-minute running time. At the very least she comes off as vicious, which is no mean feat given her diminutive stature. I would have preferred an older X-23, but must concede that the casting was made to instil the father/daughter relationship she shares with Logan.

Like whisky, Wolverine has improved with age. Given the choice I would recommend watching this feature over drinking said beverage. Take it from me, the hangover will leave you feeling like Logan has sunk his blades into your skull.

Review of Monument Valley

monumentvalley

Ouch! I have just realized that it has been yonks since I last posted a video game review (third of June to be exact). Perhaps the anonymous reader who recently un-followed my blog is a gamer who tired of waiting for new content? Have I given up on gaming? Nope. I play on my consoles and handhelds every day, but I don’t like reviewing a title until I finish it. At the moment I am battling my way through two lengthy RPGs, which will take an age to complete as my current schedule limits me to just sixty minutes of daily gaming goodness.

THE VALLEY “HILLS ARE ALIVE”

To end the video game drought on this site, I decided to play a short but sweet mobile puzzler. Finally I use my tablet for something other than reading comics (if you are looking for graphic novel recommendations I endorse downloading Marvel’s hilarious Gwenpool books.) The brainteaser I decided to purchase (in case you suffer from an ailment that prevents the reading of titles) is Monument Valley. A sequel for this game came out two months ago, but I figured that starting with the original would be best. Like the babe from Sound of Music said – “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

Speaking of music, one of Monument Valley’s highlights would have to be its audio. The soothing tunes and sound effects are a perfect remedy for the stresses of office life. Now that I have finished the game whatever shall I do to unwind during lunch breaks? Guess I will have to go back to sniffing glue. Kidding! The Otaku Judge does not advocate solvent abuse. Inhaling adhesives may cause mental impairment, which would hinder your progress in Monument Valley. Despite wearing a pointy dunce cap, the protagonist of this adventure has to use her wits to advance past each stage.

M. C. ESCHER SIMULATOR

Princess Ida is the heroine who players must guide through a total of ten stages. The dainty monarch is trapped in the titular Monument Valley – a mysterious place constructed out of sacred geometry. With the aid of touch screen controls, players must find the hidden route leading to the level’s exit. To achieve this Ida will have to stand on panels and manipulate the isometric landscape. You have to think outside the box when forming paths, because the roads Ida travels are akin to Penrose Stairs (click here). When three-dimensional objects are represented in 2D the results sure can be funky.

A solo quest would feel quite sterile, but fear not because Ida encounters several entities during her pilgrimage. Phantoms that haunt the halls reveal titbits of lore about the structure you are navigating. Hostile bipedal avians will sometimes halt Ida’s march with a tirade of squawks. Thankfully not everyone you meet is so mean. A friendly golem makes an appearance, in some of the labyrinths, to assist Ida with overcoming certain obstacles. The golem is nothing more than a one-eyed pillar, but I still got attached to him. Who says that you can’t form bonds with inanimate objects? Rest in peace Weighted Companion Cube.

VERDICT

My rating for Monument Valley is four stars. I can see why this game won awards back in 2014. People often decry the quality of mobile gaming, but if you avoid the free to play garbage there are some real gems waiting to be found in the Apps Store larder. Monument Valley is an accessible puzzler that can be enjoyed regardless of your IQ. I am a complete blockhead and still managed to finish the game with little trouble. The well-crafted levels are designed in such a way that frustration is kept to a minimum. Despite the lack of challenge there is enough thinking involved that I felt satisfaction after sussing every conundrum.

Like I mentioned earlier, Monument Valley is a short but sweet experience. Some critics would say that it’s too short. I estimate that clearing the story took me between two to three hours. That’s fair when you consider that its current retail price is four quid. A fast food meal costs about the same and will last you a lot less, to put things into perspective. Quality over quantity is something we should all herald, especially in this age were everyone’s free time is at a premium. If you can think of other classics, which don’t require a Witcher 3 commitment to beat, let me know in the comments section below. Maybe I’ll check out your suggestion and not deprive the blog of gaming posts for another two months.

Review of Girls Beyond the Wasteland

girlsbeyondthewasteland

Girls Beyond the Wasteland sounds like the title of a show starring an all-female team, who travel across a desert, in a dystopian future. Sadly the series is more down to Earth than its name implies. What we have here is a twelve episode visual novel adaptation, about a high school club that have banded together to create a… visual novel. So, the source material is a visual novel revolving around the production of visual novels? Blimey, how Meta. If you ask me, my idea about babes navigating sandy dunes sounds way cooler. VNs are all the rage these days though (Steam and the PSN store are full of them) so perhaps the premise will resonate with some of you, more than it did for me.

OVERVIEW

Teenage student Buntaro Hojo is a jack-of-all-trades who is still deliberating what career path he should follow. Hojo’s extensive resume of part time jobs includes ramen waiter and amateur playwright. Although he is talented at serving tasty noodle dishes, it is Hojo’s skill at penning scripts that catches the eye of classmate Sayuki Kuroda. The younger sister of an established VN creator, Sayuki hopes to follow in her brother’s footsteps by producing a visual novel of her own. She enlists Hojo’s services and then proceeds to scout the school halls for other helpers, who will hopefully aid with the realization of her creative venture.

Hojo’s childhood pals Atomu Kai and Yuka Kobayakawa are hired for the roles of assistant director and voice actress respectively. Meanwhile first year student Uguisu Yuki is recruited to draw the game’s artwork, after it is revealed that she is a famous online illustrator. The person responsible for programming is a bespectacled lady named Teruha Ando. I guess Ando is qualified to code because she is a hardcore geek who attends conventions and reads boy love manga. For the record, not every otaku is proficient with computers. People assume, just because I play video games, that I can somehow mend their broken laptops. In actuality, I can’t even suss out how to set the clock on my oven!

VERDICT

My rating for Girls Beyond the Wasteland is two and a half stars out of five. The series would best be described as average. Not terrible enough to drop, but not great either. It provides a cursory glance at what visual novel development involves and can be amusing at times. Large portions of the show are however dull. Whilst watching the DVDs I kept pondering what else I could be doing with my time. Rather than sitting through a dozen episodes of mediocrity I could be doing something more constructive like tackling my PS4 backlog or ironing that pile of recently washed jockstraps. My mind kept wondering because the content onscreen was so generic.

Seasoned anime viewers will instantly recognize the uninspired character stereotypes that make up the cast. Yuki for example is the token timid girl, Ando is the overzealous fujoshi and Sayuki is the impassive beauty. At least Atomu stood out by having a dark side. Whenever someone describes him as “nice” a black miasma envelops Atomu and he flies into a furious rage. The word nice triggers painful memories, because Atomu’s ex dumped him for being too nice. Like they say, nice guys finish last. That’s why there is an endless supply of single gentlemen out there, whilst beautiful women queue up to become Chris Brown’s latest punching bag.

Things weren’t much better in terms of plot either. Every so often the club faces a hurdle that may wreck the visual novel project, such as Hojo suffering from writer’s block or Ando quitting in a huff. The drama gets resolved quickly though, robbing the narrative of any tension. We don’t even get a bit of romance to spice things up. Yuka seemingly has a crush on Hojo, but the potential relationship goes nowhere. She gets jealous over Hojo and Kuroda spending time together, causing her to sulk briefly, but in no time at all she gets over it. Perhaps she realized the futility of competing in a love triangle? Childhood friends seldom ever come out on top in those things.