Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Details: Released in 2017. About two hours and twenty minutes long. Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright.

I didn’t read any reviews before watching this movie in order to avoid spoilers. After seeing the movie, I went and scavenged over all the reviews on the internet to see what other people thought. Generally, people love this movie. I’ve even heard it called a perfect superhero movie. Personally, I enjoyed the movie, but I think it is far, far away from a masterpiece. I also think there are many existing comic book movies that are easily superior to this one. No spoilers except a brief summary of the premise.

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Movie Review: A Fistful of Dollars

Details: Released in 1964. About an hour and forty minutes long. Directed by Sergio Leone. Stars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volontè, Marianne Koch.

Of the three Sergio Leone westerns, I’d say The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the best, For A Few Dollars More is the worst, and A Fistful of Dollars is in the middle. This is a good movie and has a lot of what I enjoyed from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, except they fit it into an hour and forty minute run-time versus a three hour run-time.

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Anime Review: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable

Details: Released in 2016. Thirty-nine episodes, each episode is about twenty-three minutes long without commercials. Watched with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

Diamond is unbreakable is the fourth season of the Jojo’s Bizzarre Adventure anime. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a very popular, over the top anime that has a lot of action, a lot of comedy, and a lot of camp.

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Video Game Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Game of the Year Edition

Details: Originally released in 2015. Purchased through http://www.gog.com and their game client. Purchased for about $25. Played on the PC. The Game of the Year Edition comes with all subsequently released downloadable content, including the two expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Spent about a hundred and ten hours in the base game, around thirty hours in the Hearts of Stone expansion, and about forty hours in the Blood and Wine expansion. Total time spent in the game: about one hundred and eighty hours.

No spoilers, as usual. 

Now that I’ve played this game, I can understand why this game is so beloved. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does not reinvent the wheel. It does not push some new kind of game. It is an open world, action role-playing game in a time with many, many similar games like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Assassin’s Creed, The Legend of Zelda, and the Batman Arkham series. What Witcher 3 does do is that it pushes the genre of open world games forward, improving on almost every aspect of the genre and producing a game that can be considered essential if you are a video game lover.

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Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

Details: Released in 2017. About two hours long. Stars Keanu Reeves.

I loved the first John Wick movie. I just didn’t expect the amount of incredibly well choreographed action nor the relative realism that the movie had. Accordingly, John Wick 2 is perhaps one of the only movies I was truly looking forward to this year.

The movie takes place about a day after the end of the last movie. John has gotten his revenge, his car, and a new dog and seeks to retire again, when a person from John’s past as a hitman returns to call in a favor. Now John must dive back into his old life of murder and death in order to free himself of the obligations held against him.

If you came to this movie for the story, you will be disappointed. This is an action movie. This is gun porn, knife porn, jiu-jitsu porn, car porn, and just action movie porn. There are few movies where you get to hear the audience gasp with you as incredibly fun, violent things happen on-screen. This is one of those movies. Lots of gasp inducing things happen that I won’t spoil.

Acting was fine, but definitely no Academy Awards here. It was nice to see Laurence Fishburne make an appearance and see The Matrix crew reunite, even if it was for only a little bit.

Overall, I may have enjoyed the first John Wick movie more, but I still enjoyed this movie nonetheless. Like the first film, this movie knows what it is and achieves what it sets out to do. If you are a fan of action movies, then you should watch this movie.

Score: 7/10

Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Details: Released in 2017. About an hour and forty minutes long. Stars Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson. Rated PG.

The Lego Batman Movie is about Lego Batman (part of the Lego Universe from The Lego Movie). Lego Batman is lonely and tries to deal with his relationship issues while defeating the Joker and his evil plan.

Visually, it’s like The Lego Movie. The film looks like they used lego to build everything and filmed that. It’s fun to look at and try to guess how they will animate something.

While this is a mainstream movie, there are only a few demographics of people I would recommend this film to. I can recommend this film to children, but the truth of the matter is that there are so many jokes that make so many references that are thrown at the audience so quickly that only an adult will likely get full enjoyment from this film. The kids would probably just enjoy watching Lego move around though.

I can recommend this film to Batman fans. Lots of references to the prior movies and other aspects of Batman lore. I found the very funny. I appreciated Tom Hardy reprising his role as Bane. That was a nice touch.

I can recommend this film to people who liked The Lego Movie. The humor and pacing is about the same.

Otherwise, I’m not sure you’re going to like this film. I enjoyed it, but it hits such a small part of the population in terms of interests and type of humor. If you have even a vague interest in any of the things written above, I’d recommend watching the film and giving it a chance.

Score: 6/10

Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto Online

Details: I’m not sure how many hours I’ve played of the Online part, but total time spent including with the single player is about one hundred and fifty hours. At least fifty of those hours were spent in the Online part. Played on the PC. I purchased Grand Theft Auto V a while ago for $35.00. Grand Theft Auto Online came with it. A lot of additional content has been released since the game came out. It’s unclear if more content updates will be released.

I wrote a review for the single player portion of this game a while ago and I’ve finally played enough of the online component to give an opinion.

Grand Theft Auto Online is an online multiplayer game where players can inhabit and play in Los Santos (the fictional city from the single player) with others over the internet. It comes with Grand Theft Auto V.

Grand Theft Auto Online is essentially a free to play game. It is largely funded by micro transactions. They sell in-game, virtual hats and clothes and cars and boats for in-game money. You can buy in game money with real money from their website or your local video game retailer in the form of Shark Cards.

The good part about this is that after the release of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online has released pretty consistent content updates since and they are all free for everyone who owns a copy of Grand Theft Auto V. Usually, subsequent content updates are marketed as downloadable content and given a price. That’s not the case here. The downside is that all the really cool items that you’d really like to own (e.g. a fast car or a new property) cost a fortune. The game is situated to be fun enough to keep playing, but annoying enough to tempt players into spending real money on in-game currency. This gives the game that shitty, Candy Crush-esque feel. It’s a long, time-consuming grind to achieve any kind of progress in the game. An additional negative is the rampant hacking/cheating present which further impedes enjoyment of the game.

There are a lot of things to do in Grand Theft Auto Online, but most of it is derivative of everything in the single player and short-lived (after playing most things once, you’ll never want to play it again). The only things that I think are worth mentioning are the races, the heists, and the free roaming.

Racing in a Grand Theft Auto game is almost common sense and being able to race other players is fun. With the addition of stunts and a battle mode with rockets and other power ups, the game feels a lot more like Mario Kart than a traditional Grand Theft Auto game.

I loved the Heists in this game, but it was disappointing that there are only five and that it looks unlikely more will ever be added. Each heists generally consists of a few setup missions and then the heist itself, which is a big, multi-part mission where each player will be required to cooperate and perform a distinct function in order to complete. The best and worst part of these missions is that cooperation is essential, which is very difficult to find when you’re playing with some random players over the internet who don’t give a shit about each other.

The best part of this game is that it realizes a dream that Grand Theft Auto fans have had for a long time: we get to inhabit the same city with other players. We can help each other, hurt each other (usually hurt), drive, shoot, or just screw around, all within a persistent virtual world. It’s just fun to be in a virtual world that allows you to do whatever you want while others play in that world with you.

Overall, GTA Online is a fun little distraction that can be fun for hours if you let it. The biggest flaw and best feature of GTA Online is that many of the most fun aspects of the game require a preexisting group of friends who own a copy of the game and will play with you. Otherwise, GTA Online is kind of short-lived and will get boring fast. As a standalone game, GTA Online isn’t great. As an online game bundled together with the Grant Theft Auto V single player, the game is great. I don’t recommend buying Grand Theft Auto V for the Online component alone. I do recommend the purchase if you want to enjoy the single player and already have a group of friends who own Grand Theft Auto V and want to play GTA Online with you.

Score: 6.8/10

Movie Review: The Last: Naruto the Movie

Details: Released in 2015. About two hours long.

The Last: Naruto the Movie is the last Naruto movie, at least the last one starring Naruto and not his son, Boruto. Despite disliking all prior Naruto movies, I enjoyed this movie because, like Boruto, this movie is canon. This movie takes heavily from the main story arc from the manga and the television show and continues it.

The premise is this: the story takes place two years after the end of the television show and the manga. Naruto is now nineteen and the hero of the village. Bad ninjas come to the village and Naruto is assigned a squad along with Hinata as they try to stop the bad ninjas and save the world.

What I love about this movie, other than the fact that this is canon, is that it is mostly about Naruto and Hinata falling in love. When the epilogue of the manga and anime showed all the characters hooking up with all the other characters, it was so sudden that it just felt like Kishimoto (writer of Naruto) pulled all that crap right out of this ass. This film offers background and insight into the process of how Naruto moved away from Sakura and moved closer to Hinata in a way that the show and manga barely touched upon.

There is also that small thing of beating up the bad ninjas and saving the world. That was all pretty contrived and kind of a vehicle for exploring Naruto and Hinata’s relationship. It was also nice to see how Sakura played into the relationship and how her feelings have evolved.

There is a lot of action and all pretty fun watch. The final fight scene is particularly good.

Overall, a good movie with a meaningful ending that plays into the next movie, the one with Boruto, and which will likely play into the possible Boruto series that is rumored to be in development. Again, this movie and the Boruto movie are the only Naruto films that are actually canon. Accordingly, this film and the Boruto one are the only films I recommend.

Score: 7.5/10

Video Game Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

Details: Played on the PC and through Steam with a Xbox 360 controller. I bought the game and the season pass (that means all the DLC) for about ten dollars from http://www.bundlestars.com. Took me about twenty six hours to get through the game and the Cold, Cold Heart DLC. About twenty three hours were spent on the main game and three hours on the Cold, Cold Heart DLC. Important: there is no online multiplayer. I read somewhere that the servers that supported multiplayer went down. If you buy this game, you are only paying for the single player portion. There were some minor bugs.

I originally dismissed this game and was never going to play it because it was the one Batman game that was not made by Rocksteady. After playing through Batman: Arkham Knight and hearing all the references that were made to this game and that Arkham: Origins is canon, I changed my mind.

This is a good game and it holds up really well despite it’s age. My biggest mistake was to play this game after playing Arkham Knight. Arkham Knight is undoubtedly a better game; it looks better, plays better, story… is a little better. So when I started this game, it was undeniable that this game looked worse, felt worse, and just lacked what Arkham Knight had. However, after a few hours, I got over and really enjoyed the game.

Gameplay is derivative, if you’ve played any of the Batman: Arkham games, you’ll know what your getting into. In fact, gameplay is almost identical to Arkham City. The same gadgets are used as are the enemy types your fight. If your unfamiliar with the Arkham series, gameplay is divided into a few types. First, there’s stealth, where you try to clear and area of enemies without being detected. Then there’s the free flow combat which generally consists of trying to dodge, counter, and chain together enough attacks so that you can land your finishing attack. Boss fights generally consist of a combination of combat and stealth. There are some puzzles and platforming.

There are also investigation portions where you investigate a crime scene and try to recreate the crime. These portions of the game are minor, yet what I think this game does better and more often than any other game in the Arkham series. I think it often gets glossed over that Batman is a detective and it’s a lot of fun to try and solve crime mysteries and track down criminals. It adds color to the game to see Batman trying to solve crimes that are not necessarily of the super villain variety. Unfortunately, the crimes you solve are fairly repetitive and uniform.

Visually, the game looks great. The art direction is fine, although it’s not as detailed or filled in as a Rocksteady Arkham game. If you’re not as obsessive of a fan of Rocksteady as I am, you probably won’t even notice it so don’t worry about it.

The music is great. Loved all the tracks.

The story is surprisingly good. I was expecting something half assed, but it goes into a lot of Batman lore. It started a little slow, but built up and it was fun battling and interacting with the characters of this fictional world. The only nitpick I would point out is the reliance of pre-rendered cut scenes versus using the in game engine. I prefer Rocksteady’s method of showing off how good the game looks by using the in game engine for cut scenes. It’s also less jarring.

Furthermore, while I did enjoy the story, some of the big reveals/surprises were spoiled to me by various websites. I’d advise not spoiling the game for yourself if you intend on playing it. There are some plot twists and surprises which are worth preserving if you can.

The voice actors all do a great job. After three Arkham games, you just come to expect to hear Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill every time one of these games come out. That they are not present here is a little jarring. However, the lack of Kevin Conroy makes some narrative sense in that this is a prequel; Batman is younger so it kind of makes sense he sounds different.

Score: 7/10 I had fun with this game, especially since I only spent around ten dollars for it. I recommend it if you like the Batman Arkham games and can get it for around the same price.

Movie Review: The Matrix

Details: About two hours and sixteen minutes long. Stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving.

I watched this movie again the other day and I decided to write a review. I thought a lot about whether or not to include spoilers in this review and decided that this movie had such a profound impact upon me, that the reveals in this film were so integral to the film that this needed to be spoiler free.

I first watched this film back around the year 2000. I did not watch it in theaters, but on video. Somehow, despite the ridiculous popularity of this film at the time, no one spoiled it for me. When I eventually did watch this film, it was in it’s whole, unspoiled glory. I then understood why everyone I knew was buying Matrix sunglasses, wearing black trench coats, and admiring overpriced cell phones. This movie was transformative for me. I must have watched this video over one hundred times. I watched this film to the point where I memorized every single word of dialogue spoken by any character. It was insane. I had never seen such a movie as this. Fast forward to a few nights ago when I decided to give it another watch and this movie still holds up wonderfully. Despite its age, this movie is still one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

The premise is this: a hacker (played by Keanu Reeves) is contacted by a mysterious figure named Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) who offers to reveal the truth about this world. That’s really all you need. There are so many reveals in this movie that anything more might take away from the film.

It’s been so long that many people likely forget the impact this film had on the movie industry. This film was one of the first films to truly show what computer generated effects are capable of. This film coined the term “bullet time,” where we not only go into slow motion, but the camera moves around while the characters are moving in slow motion. This was something that before this point had never been done nor been done this well.

However, where this film shines and truly elevates itself to a timeless classic is in its practical effects. I’ve watched the behind the scenes featurettes on this film and what they went through to create some of these scenes is amazing. Reeves, Moss, Fishburne and Weaving spent months with legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and his team training in martial arts and wire work in preparation for this film. Their efforts are apparent in this film and add an authenticity and realism that is often done wrongly in other films. There are not a lot of Western films that can portray Chinese style martial arts action well, but this is one of them. It is a joy to watch these action scenes.

I’d love to talk more about the action but I don’t want to spoil this film if I can help it. All I can say is prepare yourself for guns and kung fu.

And we haven’t even gotten to the performances. While Keanu is certainly a wet blanket, the rest of the cast do an incredible job. Most notably, Hugo Weaving does one of the most iconic performances of a villain in cinema history. His performance reminds me of Carl Sagan with a little more evil added in.

It’s just such a great movie with such a unique, memorable tone. This movie oozes style and throughout the film, I was reminded of ideas and images from comic books and anime that I’d seen before. It just attempts so many things and had so many imitators subsequently try to copy what this film achieves.

If you have any doubt whether or not you should watch this film, don’t. Go watch this film. Do no ask anyone about their opinions nor should you go and search the internet for anything regarding the film. Rest assured this is a great movie and one of the greatest action movies ever made. It is so good, so forward thinking that it easily holds up, even now.

Score: 9.6/10