Review: Breaking Bad Season 3

via TV Stock
via TV Stock

Breaking Bad (Season 3) (2010)

TVMA / AMC

Crime / Drama / Thriller

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Creator: Vince Gilligan


Breaking Bad has come a long way since its inaugural season.  It has been a roller coaster ride of tension, chaos, and emotion.  Up to this point, Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) cancer has come and gone as a threat and he and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) have successfully built themselves some street cred among the drug trade.  The unlikely duo have created a product so top notch that it literally drives people insane.  The road has not been all rosy and clean however, with many crazy potholes along the way.  The funny part is, with the final episode of season three it only seems like craziness just begun.

Season three begins with the fallout of the airplane disaster that was teased heavily in the previous season.  Things have gone south with Walt and Skylar’s (Anna Gunn) relationship as he is forced to move out on his own.  This is a sad moment for Walt, who ended up getting farther away from his family instead of getting closer to them, but it also opens up the opportunity for increased meth production.

via Fan Pop
via Fan Pop

After watching the show’s second season, I started to believe that Walt and Jesse’s production had reached a new high.  They were making tons of product that was netting them a fair share of money.  Their little side project had finally taken off.  Season three makes the duo’s little operation seem like child’s play.  The two now have their own professional-grade lab hidden away in some laundry facility, provided to them by the stoic kingpin Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), who happens to be one of the best actors on the show.  He kills it with every episode that he is featured in.  (On a side note: Jonathan Banks, who plays the beat cop turned hitman and PI Mike, gets a lot of love this season, especially in the final episode.  He’s a bad-ass and quickly became another one of my favorite characters from the series.)

via Fan Pop
via Fan Pop

The season has a lot of highs and lows for both Walt and Jesse, but more specifically Jesse.  Jesse is going through the twelve step program for rehab, which means a ton of improvement from his drug junkie days from previous seasons.  His relationship with Walt still manages to be all over the place and his character dips a little bit towards the end of the season.  The lasting image that the season gives us of Jesse in the final episode is not only special and really moving, but also a good summation of Jesse’s character in general.  We find out that he might just be the thorn in Walt’s side after all, after all this time.

via Fan Pop
via Fan Pop

Another thing that we see is the effect that Walt has on his family and friends.  This has been true of previous seasons, but he is only getting himself deeper and deeper into a mess that will be hard for him to dig his way out of.  Walt’s relationship gets a little better with Sklyar as communication between the two deepens. (This might sound vague but I am trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible)  Hank (Dean Norris) also gets caught in Walt’s mess when the cartel decides to attempt to take him out of the picture.  This situation leads to a fantastic seventh episode which gives us a satisfying jolt to a season that takes some time to ramp up in intensity, which is one of the few complaints I have with the season as a whole.

Things only get crazier as the episodes start to become much more intense towards the end of the season.  “Fly,” season three’s tenth episode polarizes a lot of people in terms of its place among the other episodes in the season.  It manages to give us a look at the dynamic relationship of Walt and Jesse, while managing to take the story nowhere.  It’s a fun bottle episode that at times felt like a filler episode.  I liked it, but many question its place in the show.

via Deo Veritas
via Deo Veritas

Finally the last two episodes, “Half Measure” and “Full Measure,” are by far the strongest episodes of season three.  Some consider “Half Measure” the real season finale, with “Full Measure” providing the set up for season four, which is an interesting and valid point to make.  Things wrap up and come to a satisfying close in the twelfth episode, capping off another hell of season.  “Full Measure,” the season finale, gives us a peek at how insane things are going to get with Walt and Gus, as well as the future of their drug business.  The episode had a metric-ton of great moments, including the tense final thirty seconds of the season.  I mean, who did not do a quiet fist bump to themselves whenever Walt took one step ahead of everybody else by rattling off the address of his assistant Gale to a dumbstruck Mike and Victor.  It was an amazing moment, among many others.

I feel like I am going to end this review like my previous two reviews of the previous seasons by saying, “well, things are only going to get crazier.”  The truth behind this statement is real.  This is one of the few series that only gets better with time.  Some of the slower episodes in the beginning and in the middle of the season put the third season below the first two in my opinion, but that does not make it any less amazing.  The final couple of episodes, as well as the intensity of the seventh episode, make this season a truly memorable one.  Now, I am just going to sit back and see where the next two seasons take me.  Breaking Bad…what a show.

breaking bad s3 score

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Review: The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty

via missinfo.tv
via missinfo.tv

The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty (2015)

Tyga

Rap / Hip-Hop

Last Kings


Way back in November of last year, Last Kings Entertainment was supposed to release Tyga’s new album The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty.  Things did not go as planned though, with a delay pushing back the release to December.  Things only got worse when it continued to get pushed back and back due to the altercations plaguing the Young Money/Cash Money scenario.  Long story short, things were looking pretty dire for the rapper’s fourth studio album.  Now, fast forward six months and the album finally has seen the light of day.  It was released this week on Spotify as a surprise, coming literally out of nowhere.  This should be good news, but the news is tarnished by the album’s quality in the end.

On the cover of the album, we see the Egyptian god Horus, which only makes sense for Tyga who is fascinated with Egyptian culture.  The Gold Album continues in the tradition of the rapper’s gloat fests, as this is the kind of style that Tyga rolls with though.  The album starts off with a banger named “Spitfire.”  It might not live fully up to its name, but the rapper does manage to spit some flame with his classic lyrical flow.  Two tracks later we have “Shaka Zulu,” in which the rapper compares himself to the most influential monarch of the Zulu kingdom.

via The Stashed
via The Stashed

The album started off pretty well, despite “Muh Fucka” which teetered on the line of repetition, but it started to turn stale and the tracks started to become more mediocre as I made my way through the eleven song tracklist.  Songs like “Hard For You” and “Down For A Min” had some potential, but ultimately fell flat in terms of execution.  Later in the album, Tyga’s collaboration with Lil Wayne, “4 My Dawgz,” also managed to fall short of what it could have been.

Tyga and Boosie Badazz’ filthy collaboration “Pleazer” had a great beat, but made me feel uncomfortable at the same time.  It gave off a lot of pedophilic vibes, not unlike some other songs on the album.  Perhaps it was the lyric “T nasty, ‘bout to catch a felony for it.”  Although Tyga explicitly stated that the line did not refer to his young girlfriend Kylie Jenner, it still does not make the weird lyrics seem any better.

via Fist in the Air
via Fist in the Air

The album has a solid production, which is one of the biggest things the album has going for it.  This time around, Tyga enlisted Kanye West, Mike Dean, and Jess Jackson as the executive producers, which can attribute to the album’s great sound.  If anyone wants an example of the album’s top notch production, “Bloodline” would have to be the track that I would direct them too.  It has a nice sound that offers up something different compared to the other offerings.

The hype and anticipation that was building up to the album’s release crumbles in on itself with a finished project full of mediocrity.  There was a select few songs on the album that were worth the time listening to, but most of the others were plain average.  Personally I was expecting a lot more from Tyga with his fourth studio project.  In a year that has been pretty great for hip-hop, The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty will probably be lost in the mix.  Not even the god Horus can do anything about it.

the gold album score

Review: Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

tales from borderlands ep1 coverTales from the Borderlands – “Catch a Ride” (2015)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: 2K Games

Developer: Telltale Games, Gearbox Software


It’s been a while since I have explored Pandora through Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands.  Telltale has been pretty busy as of late with their other series based on the Game of Thrones as well as the number of other projects they have announced. After what seemed like a long wait, Tales from the Borderlands’ third episode “Catch a Ride” is finally upon us, and it is by far the series’ strongest episode yet.

Tales from the Borderlands’ first two episodes were pretty good to begin with but the third episode sees the series hitting all the right spots in terms of story and comedy.  It’s nice to see a series like this coming from Telltale, a studio known for their more serious games like The Walking Dead.

via Softpedia
via Softpedia

The episode, which deals with the discovery of the Gortys Project, introduces a good amount of new characters, some familiar to anyone who has played the main Borderlands games.  In terms of the familiar, we receive the introduction of Mordecai, Brick, and Athena who is on the player’s side.  She’s a rogue vault hunter that happens to have some major beef with the Atlas Corporation because of their past history.  She’s a welcome addition to the normal cast of characters.

In terms of fresh faces, a new robot added to the cast.  Played by Ashley Johnson of The Last of Us fame, she steals the show.  The character is earnest and naïve, making the character a major change in pace compared to most of the other people that roam the relentless planet of Pandora.  Vallory, the other major new character brought in, seems to be the main villain that players will have to deal with in the coming episodes.  Up to this point, Vasquez and August have been the key bad guys, but they pale in comparison to Vallory.  I will be interested to see what becomes of this character as time goes on, if indeed she is the main villain.

via XGN
via XGN

Do not fret though, the main cast of characters, including the two leads Rhys and Fiona, still maintain a big presence in the episode.  Depending on the choices that you make, friendships will deepen and perhaps there will be some romance as well.  There is some key character development that will most likely prove to be very important in future episodes.  Fiona becomes more skilled and seasoned in combat while Rhys makes some questionable alliances, depending as always on the choices that you make.

If you thought the first two episodes were funny, then you are in for a nice treat this time around.  Telltale has managed to swing twice as hard with their third entry in the series, giving us a massive punch of comedy.  I found myself laughing a ton more than any of the previous episodes.  There was everything from fourth wall comedy to sarcasm that managed to tickle the funny bone in more ways that I thought.  Also, let’s not forget Handsome Jack who consistently manages to maintain a strong comedic presence ever since he was introduced in the second episode.

via Softpedia
via Softpedia

“Catch a Ride” has the power to transform any doubter of the series to a believer real quickly.  Although, it’s hard to imagine the series having any doubters, since it has been strong since the first episode.  The series has been relatively quiet and it has not stirred up as much attention from the industry.  I do not know about anyone else, but I know for sure that I will be first in line to experience the next two episodes, especially if they are as jam packed with goodness like the series’ middle episode.

tales from borderlands ep3 score

Review: Lego Jurassic World

via Slash Film
via Slash Film

Lego Jurassic World (2015)

PS4 / E10+

Action

Publisher: WB Games

Developer: Traveller’s Tales


At this point, Lego and Traveller’s Tales seem to have almost all of the major entertainment franchises in their grips.  Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Lego Dimension which has a whole bunch of different franchises.  Their a powerhouse when it comes to the amount of licenses that they have under their umbrella.  The studio’s newest franchise is Jurassic World.  It brings some new elements to the table, but provides more of the same.

Lego Jurassic World encompasses all four movies in the franchise, including the newest one, and takes place on Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna.  The game dedicates five separate levels to each movie that allows fans of the series to relieve some of the classic moments from the films, with the Lego brand of humor of course.  In these levels, there are a multitude of Lego studs to collect as well as other collectibles like Minikits and Amber blocks that unlock other things as well.  If you have played any Lego game before, this is all sounding extremely familiar.

via Gamers Global
via Gamers Global

Since there is so much of the same from the previous games, I am instead going to talk about the fresh ideas that Traveller’s Tales brings to the forefront, the biggest of which being the ability to play as the dinosaurs themselves.  With a franchise in love with its dinosaurs, this only makes sense when you think about it.  The game includes about twenty dinosaurs that are fully playable, including Velociraptors, Triceratops, and of course, the T-Rex.  Some of these dinosaurs can only be used in the open world portions of the game, while others are useful for collecting in the story levels.  They all bring new gameplay elements to the table, some obviously more fun than others.

Hub worlds in Lego games are starting to become a staple and with Jurassic World, this is no different.  There are four hub worlds that are located on the islands Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, which should be instantly recognizable for fans of the series.  I was the most impressed with the hub world for Jurassic World, which beautifully recreated the theme park with a lot of attention to detail.  Everything from the boardwalk to the Mosasaurus arena make an appearance.  The hub world for Jurassic Park is also easily recognizable.  The others were not as impressive.  In terms of size, past games have had larger areas but the open world in Jurassic World is pretty sizable.  You will be spending a lot of time in these areas, especially if you are going for 100% completion.

lego jurassic world 2

The cut scenes are some of my favorite parts about these games as they really demonstrate the kind of slapstick humor that these games are known and loved for.  The characters talk once again, with the dialog being pulled straight from the movies.  In theory, this is a great idea as it provides a lot of fan service.  However, the technical side could have used a little more work.  A lot of the lines contained massive amounts of echo or other filters that made them seem out of place in the given situations.  Most of the dialog is handled well, but there was a good bit of lines that could have been touched up a little more to fit in better.

Gameplay wise, the game is almost indistinguishable from the previous games, which could be a positive or a negative.  The gameplay works for the most part, with some technical hiccups and glitches here and there (which is par for the course for a Lego game), but it becomes pretty repetitive after a while.  The Lego games are in desperate need of major gameplay changes.  Right now, they follow a by-the-books formula to create these games that gets old after a while.  They need to shake things up in a way that makes these games fresh again.  I enjoy the games for the fan service and the humor, but not necessarily for the mechanics or the gameplay.  They need to change.

lego jurassic world

Let me put it this way, if you are a fan of the Lego games or a fan of the Jurassic Park movies, then Lego Jurassic World is probably for you.  The game, despite its unoriginal gameplay and other flaws, still manages to keep things fun.  If you are willing to forgive the rote nature of these games, then this will be a fun experience for you.  Otherwise, tread with caution.

lego jurassic world score

Review: Dope

via Screen Slam
via Screen Slam

Dope (2015)

R / 103 min

Comedy / Drama

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons

Director: Rick Famuyiwa


This summer seems to be looking good for hip-hop fans.  This weekend we were treated to Dope, with Fresh Dressed and Straight Outta Compton still to come.  It is hard to say what caused this recent spike, but it will definitely give us a nice breather from the usual cinema fanfare.  Let’s just face it, we do not have enough movies about hip-hop culture these days.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  Was Dope actually dope?  You bet it was.

Dope would be the fresh and fun lovechild if The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Superbad were to have a child.  The movie stars Shameik Moore in his breakthrough role as Malcolm, a solemn and honest geek living in a tough neighborhood in Inglewood, California.  His best buds, Jib and Diggy (Tony Revolori and Keirsey Clemons) are geeks as well.  The trio are stuck in nineties hip-hop culture, but like “white shit” like skateboarding, doing well in school, and…yes, Donald Glover.  As the movie points out, life is hard for a geek living in Inglewood, California.

via Vid Shaker
via Vid Shaker

The comedy starts fast and does not slowdown in its intensity.  Malcolm is a smart kid who is looking to get into Harvard.  He’s been working on the application and he already has an interview with a Harvard alumni.  It’s his senior year, and Malcolm and his friends want to have some fun.  Unfortunately for them, they get involved in the wrong type of fun.  On the way home from school, Malcolm gets caught up in the business of the slinging and dealing drug dealer named Dom, played surprisingly well by A$AP Rocky.  He invites the trio of misfits to his birthday bash, where things ultimately go bad, leaving Malcolm and his pals waist deep in a big drug caper.  They have some of the best dope around that they need to get rid of fast.

Things get more out of hand as more characters are introduced and plotlines start to intertwine with each other.  Things happen quickly and the trio are thrust into some pretty uncomfortable and often funny situations.  The movie provides a satisfying feeling when everything gets connected together.  Malcolm, Diggy, and Jib have a ton of smarts that surprisingly translates to some pretty credible street smarts.

via Music Times
via Music Times

Cultural callbacks to the nineties era of hip-hop are plentiful and numerous.  Everything from MTV to N.W.A. and even to Wack-a-Mole finds its place in Dope.  The fashion, the haircuts (let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Malcolm has a top-notch haircut everybody), and the music make Rick Famuyiwa’s tribute to nineties culture feel real and complete.

The first two acts cruise right along, nailing all the right spots, but then the third act comes around.  Now, I might sound negative when I say that, but that is not the truth.  I heartily enjoyed the films right turn that it took towards the end.  It was completely unexpected, but demonstrated the depth and intelligence that Dope brings to the table, which is something I did not expect to say about the film.  Skip to the next paragraph if you have not already seen the movie, because I want to talk about it a little more.

via Infinite Leg Room
via Infinite Leg Room

Throughout the movie, we get the constant theme of realness and fakeness.  It’s a question that not only Malcolm has to think about, but the audience as well.  Is he like those other dudes in the hood, or is he real to himself?  The third act is the revelatory answer to the thoughtful question.  In the end, he is both.  He is the smart straight-A Harvard student, who happens to wheel and deal like the rest of them.  Malcolm breaks down the whole movie into a couple of minutes while he takes viewers on a journey to this conclusion.  It was really satisfying to see it all come together.  However, it’s the acts dark undertone that made it so unexpected.  Malcolm shaves his head and loses the nineties fashion.  He comes to grips with himself as becomes a truer version of his character.  This leads to one of the few gripes I have with the film.  I would have almost liked the movie better if Malcolm took a deep dive into the drug dealing trade.  What if he lost the will to go to college?  What if he decided to pursue the life of a drug-dealing kingpin?  His intelligence and his street smarts that he acquires as the movie progresses would have made him one fine dope dealer. This is the direction I would have wanted the film to go.  Yes, it might not have been the nice happy ending that most would have wanted from a film like this, but it would have had a more profound effect on viewers.  It would have left me with a stronger aftertaste.

dope 5

Like I said before, I still enjoyed the direction that the movie took.  I knew going into Dope that I was probably going to enjoy what it had to offer.  As a fan of hip-hop, this movie was made for my kind of interests.  However, it took me on a ride that I was not expecting at all.  It was a crowd-pleaser, giving us a dose of humor and intellect, with a side of Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance.”

dope 4

Review: San Andreas

via Tribute
via Tribute

San Andreas (2015)

PG-13 / 114 min

Action / Drama / Thriller

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Director: Brad Peyton


The San Andreas Fault line is one of the biggest fault lines of its kind, spanning almost the entire state of California.  The line has been dormant and stable for a while now, with no indication of it going off anytime soon.  But what if it did?  What would happen?  What would you do?  These questions pretty much make up the slogan for San Andreas, a disaster movie about what would happen if the entire San Andreas fault where to rumble.  Spoiler: things go bad very, very quickly.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays himself…nope, I meant Ray, a rescue officer from the Los Angeles Fire Department.  He is currently having some marriage troubles as his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) sends divorce papers to his house.  He also has a daughter named Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who he is very protective of, due to a past incident when he lost his other daughter to a rafting accident.  As everybody goes their separate ways, California starts to tremble as the entire state starts to quake.  Ray manages to get to his wife, but his daughter is trapped in the city after Emma’s boyfriend leaves her to fend for herself.  The general plot premise reminds me of another movie series I’ve seen…is this Taken?  Sadly, this is not a Taken movie, but the movie might as well be if you sub out the earthquake and in its place put in kidnappers.

via Clutch Mag
via Clutch Mag

Blake is not alone for long however, as she picks up to friends that help her get out of an early jam.  Brothers Ben and Ollie (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson) are quick to her aid.  The newly formed trio stick together for the rest of the movie, with the sole mission of finding high ground for Blake’s dad to find them.  Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson were my favorite additions to the cast as they provided the comic relief and charm in a movie full of dire circumstances and terror.

san andreas 2

The movie’s plot falls apart quickly however, almost as fast as San Francisco itself.  (That pun most definitely intended)  The plot holes are bountiful and plenty as director Brad Peyton takes you on a ride through the cement and rebar wasteland of San Francisco.  How Ray is supposed to find his lone daughter in the crumbling city of San Francisco is just as impossible as it sounds.  But why am I talking about the movie’s story?  I guess the story takes the backburner in a movie like this.  The destruction and visually stunning carnage takes the center stage.

This is unfortunate however, as Ray’s backstory and tender family moments get shadowed by the towering destruction around them.  Ray’s past continually stabs at him throughout the movie with the threat of losing another daughter.  The bonding between him and his wife also makes for some nice moments, despite how cheesy some of these moments where.  Everybody makes it out alive in the end (which really is not a spoiler because come on, it’s the Rock we are talking about here) and those family moments to end the film deserved a little more.

via Variety
via Variety

San Andreas is a visual spectacle despite its flaws in storytelling.  San Francisco is laid to waste by the time the credits roll, and watching the city fall apart was thrilling to watch.  Skyscrapers fell down, entire street blocks were decimated, and a gigantic tidal wave provided the cherry on top of all the destruction.  The movie gave us some intermittent rest and peace to catch our breath, but was quick to give us another walloping before we could get comfortable again.  The movie was relentless and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

san andreas 4

I would like to point out that the movie started off with a girl driving down the highway with Taylor Swift’s “Style” blasting through the speakers.  The lyrics “And when we go crashing down, we come back every time” were heard, which sums up San Andreas in a nutshell if you think about it.  Everybody makes it out alive but the movie still managed to lay on the tense moments time and time again.  Dwayne Johnson pretty much played the same exact character that he has played in almost every other movie, but he was still fun to watch nonetheless.  Despite its numerous flaws, the movie still delivered on one of its biggest promises: mass amounts of earthquake carnage.  It’s worth watching to see San Francisco crumble to the ground, but not much else.

san andreas score

The Astronaut Wives Club Takes Launch

via IB Times
via IB Times

It’s the Cold War and the intensifying race to get into space is heating up exponentially.  The two mega rivals, the United States and the Soviet Union, are neck and neck trying to get the first man into space.  As we already know, the Soviets end up getting the first man into space, but the US was close by.  Alan Shepard was the first man to safely make it into space, while John Glenn was the first astronaut to orbit around the Earth.  This was all part of the Mercury Project, the US’s effort to get the first astronauts into space.  The Astronaut Wives Club uses this piece of history, as well as the novel with the same title, as fuel for its lesser known story about the first astronaut’s wives.

The premise is definitely interesting.  The astronauts are often regarded as the famous heroes from back in that day, while their wives were backstage to all their fame.  The show aims to tell the story of NASA and how they sent some journalists to document the story of the astronaut’s wives for a front page magazine article.  The women are reluctant at first because of the invasion of privacy, but they end up deciding it was for the greater good.  Their story had to be told.

via Deadline
via Deadline

Things start getting hard to follow early on in the show’s pilot when the main characters are all being introduced.  We’re introduced to the seven wives; Louise Shepard (Dominique McElligot), Rene Carpenter (Yvonne Strahovski), Betty Grissom (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Marge Slayton (Erin Cummings), Annie Glenn (Azure Parsons), Jo Schirra (Zoe Boyle), and Trudy Cooper (Odette Annable).  With the pilot’s rapid pace, it’s hard to fully get acquainted with each character, who all seem to have their own backstory or secret that will inevitably be revealed as the show treks on.  By the end of the first episode, I was still questioning who each character was and what their connection was to the other characters.  I’m confident that this confusion will go away as we spend more time with the wives, but their introductions could have been handled in a better way.

Dominique McElligot takes center stage as the wife to Alan Shepard, the first man in space.  She was the focus of the first episode, and she did a pretty good job of portraying the nervous but confident Louise Shepard.  Right from the start it, Louise does not seem to get along with the rest of the wives.  We get some back and forth between the characters as they all bicker about which one of their husbands will be the first to space.  Louise’s husband is the winner by the end of the show, which causes a little bit of bad blood between the wives.  One thing I noticed was how soapy the first episode started to become.  The show is meant to be a period drama, but it often sunk into soap opera territory with the way characters interacted with each other.  Hopefully this changes soon.

astronaut wives club 2

What makes the show fun to watch is the themes that it dives into right from the start.  We begin to see what it is like to be a wife of an astronaut.  Their lives change forever as the spotlight of fame is cast upon them, whether they like it or not.  Dealing with this fame and the hardships that it will bring on is one of the show’s themes.  We also get a look at the Cold War and the grip that it has on the general public of the United States.  Lastly, we also get the themes of hope and support, as we expect the wives to grow closer to each other and develop a bond, a bond that will deem itself necessary as their lives get flipped upside down.

Creator Stephanie Savage has also done a pretty spectacular job at setting the scene of Cold War America.  What makes period pieces like The Astronaut Wives Club fun to watch is the deep dive into the period’s time and place.  Everything from the TV shows to the magazines to the wives’ wardrobe are completely true to the time.  Even the little details like the food that the wives put down at a summer cookout is reminiscent of fifties America.  Although the show’s music choices favored the hits of today, the setting is completely realized and true to the time.

astronaut wives club 3
via IMDB

Things will only get more intense and heated as The Astronaut Wives Club goes on.  The fame will take a toll on the women and the ever looming threat of their husbands’ death will linger in the air.  Space travel is no easy thing as it turns out, meaning the possibly of death is almost guaranteed by the time the finale rolls along.  Watching how the wives will have to stick together and deal with what comes to them will be a lot of fun to watch.

Review: Jurassic World

via Why So Blu
via Why So Blu

Jurassic World (2015)

PG-13 / 124 min

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

Director: Colin Trevorrow


One would assume that after the tragic whirlwind of events that took place in the first Jurassic Park movies someone would start to ponder if a gigantic theme park full of man-eating dinosaurs is really a good idea.  Numerous things have gone wrong and a lot of lives were lost during the initial park’s tenure.  Someone apparently did not get the memo and thus, we have Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the popular dino series.  A new park has been opened on Isla Nublar and the guests are coming from all over the world to see the new genetically modified dinosaurs that call the park home.  Nothing can go wrong at all.

What we get with Jurassic World is perhaps the best Jurassic Park sequel to date.  It is hard to topple the marvel that was the original 1993 film, but director Colin Trevorrow and his team have managed to recreate the magic that comes with a park full of thrills.  Early on we even get a nice panning shot of the entire park with the famous Jurassic Park theme song in the background.  What more could you possibly want?

jurassic world 1

Story-wise, we are introduced to two kids, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), who are sent off to the new park to spend some quality family time with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who also happens to be one of the park’s directors.  Zach is a teenager who has a comic affection for girls (Stereotypical teenager? Yes, yes he is.) and Gray is the younger one who is fascinated with dinosaurs.  The two get to the park only to get swatted away by their aunt who is busier with park business.  With the promise of eventually spending time with her, the two boys are left to their own devices in a park of wonderment.

Meanwhile, Claire is busy with one of the park’s newest attractions, a gigantic genetically-modified dinosaur called Indominus Rex.  Before they know it, the thing essentially backfires on them as it escapes from the paddock, spewing chaos in every direction.  It starts to become a race against time as Claire and her team have to figure out a way to stop their monstrous creation.  She does not venture out alone however, entrusting the knowledge and expertise of Owen McGrady, played by emerging action star Chris Pratt.  A former marine, Owen has a connection to the dinosaurs like none other and he also happens to have keen tracking skills.  These come in handy when Claire realizes that her nephews are in trouble, with the Indominus Rex in their path.

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Jurassic World is best described as a fun summer popcorn movie.  The thrills are many and the amount of “fist-bump” moments are numerous.  In fact, the amount of people that almost jumped out of their seats with excitement during my viewing was kind of surprising.  One aspect that makes this movie different from its predecessors is the way it treats its main dinosaur.  Jurassic World contains all of the tropes that you could find in a monster movie.  In the beginning, we only see bits and pieces of the dino, but by the end, we get to see the full dinosaur in all its beauty.

There were a lot of moments that made me laugh, but not because of their comedic value.  The movie is cheesier than a bowl of macaroni and cheese and the summer blockbuster clichés are scattered all over the movie’s runtime.  The dialogue and interactions between characters can make you shake your head and the romance that the movie tried to shoehorn in was unnecessary.  The relationship between Claire and Owen could have been left out entirely.  The duo are better as business partners than they are soulmates.  We also get some canned emotional moments between Claire and her sister; the two boy’s mother.  The two are on the phone talking about the kids and their mother, when tears start to pour.  It felt really out of place and it would have been better suited for a drama, not an action movie about dinosaurs.

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Perhaps one of the nicest parts of the movie were the couple of callbacks to the original movie.  Whether it was the Jurassic Park shirt worn by one of the control room’s techies or the building that the boys stumble upon that houses a ton of Easter eggs, the movie managed to give older fans a nice little tribute, while still managing to keep things fresh for newer fans of the series.  You do not have to be familiar with the original three films to garner an appreciation for what Jurassic World is.

The box office is already stating that Jurassic World is one of the summer’s biggest hits, with a massive record-breaking opening.  The word of mouth train will only steam on as the movie gains traction in the coming weeks.  Jurassic World, despite the cheesiness, is a whole lot of fun and it breathes new life into a franchise that left a sour taste in the mouths of fans with the third movie.  If you are a fan of intense thrills and big dinosaurs, then Jurassic World is opening its doors for you and calling your name.

jurassic world score

Suede Papa: A Look at a Visual Romantic Novel

I try to make a habit of looking at the new releases on Steam that come out each week, but with the never ending waterfall of games that falls upon the store, it is often hard to keep up.  One thing that I have noticed during my check-ins with the storefront is the surge of visual novels that have been popping up.  This is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but these novels have started to gain traction among a cult following.  Most of these novels consist of anime and romance, two things which I am neither familiar with or interested in.  One novel caught my eye, perhaps because of the “free” price tag.  It was a visual romantic novel simply titled Seduce Me.  Even though this sounded like a nightmare, I decided to give the genre its fair shake…and what follows is a chronicle of my experiences.


Seduce Me started off with a bunch of weird voices over a black screen.  Already off to a great start.  A voice then demanded to know my name.  I put a lot of thought into the name of the character I would be controlling.  It is a visual novel, so I naturally decided to go with Suede Papa.  It was the perfect name for the pimp that would be traversing through this romantic adventure.

The only problem was, the character I would be controlling turned out to be a girl…awesome.  A girl named Suede Papa.  Nothing wrong with that I guess.  Her parents, when deciding what name to give their baby child, were probably considering what name would make their little baby daughter’s life a living hell.

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Suede Papa (yes, I am going to continue to refer to this girl as Suede Papa) is your average high school girl. She’s smart and has a lot of ambition for the life ahead of her.  Her father is one of the chairman of the Anderson Family Toy Company, a company that was originally founded by Suede Papa’s grandfather.  The plan is for Suede Papa to eventually take over the reins of the company as the new CEO, but that was to come after college.

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We are also introduced to Suede Papa’s group of friends, which are your typical gossipy teenage girls.  One’s name is Suzu and the other’s is Naomi.  You know, they’re the kind of friends that talk about boys…and boys…and…other girl stuff.  I don’t know.

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Anyway, it seems to be just a normal day when things take a turn for the worse.  Suede Papa is called down to the office to receive the news that her grandfather has passed away.  Emotions run and so do the tears.  During the ceremony, a lawyer approaches Suede Papa and her family to inform them that Suede Papa’s grandfather has left his entire estate to Suede Papa, in accordance with his will.  What?  An eighteen year old girl getting dealt her own mansion?  The idea seems crazy…but that only means one thing.  Suede Papa has her own house to herself now.  Let the house parties and romance commence!

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Things turn out differently however when Suede Papa discovers some mysterious men in her newly acquired house.  Things get weirder as one of the guys wakes up and forces Suede Papa to kiss him.

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I did not like where this was going one bit and it only got worse as the others started to wake up, five in total.

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The five introduced themselves as James, Erik, Damian, Matthew, and Sam.  What were they doing in Suede Papa’s house?  It turns out that they were recovering from a battle.  They also brought up the fact that they were Incubi, a type of demon that feeds upon the sexual energy of humans to draw their power.  Great, sexual demons.  Nothing can go wrong when one teenage girl is inhabiting a house with five sexual demons.  Are all romantic novels like this?

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Suede Papa does not believe what the men are saying.  I do not blame her.  I would have called the cops by now, but instead, Suede Papa wants them to demonstrate their powers.  Erik, the smooth talking one, takes it upon himself to show Suede Papa the true nature of their seductive powers…when things fade to black.  It all happened so fast…

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She eventually woke up to a nice dinner prepared by the guys.  Over dinner, she receives a call from her parents letting her know that they were going to hold a dinner party at her house in celebration of her becoming an independent lady.  The guys, who are quick to serve, decided to help Suede Papa ready the house for its guests.  Naomi and Suzu help as well.  The game then gave me the option to decide which of the guys to aid with cleaning.  Suede Papa decided to give Erik a hand, because obviously she sensed some interest from the smooth talker.

Before no time, the house was ready and the party was beginning.  There was a large gathering of employees from Anderson Family Toy Company that were all quick and eager to interrogate Suede Papa about her future plans in life, as well as the future of the company.  It was mini job interview after job interview, as the questions were laid on her with rapid succession.

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The party was going well, until the very end after everybody had left.  When the house was empty once again, besides Suede Papa and the Incubi, two ghastly monsters appeared out of nowhere to wreak havoc on Suede Papa.  That is when I drew the line.  The story up to this point was a little hard to swallow, but now we are introducing monsters into the story?  Nope.  Was not buying it.  Unfortunately, things only got worse from there.

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After some time had passed…Suede Papa started to become deeper with Erik.  The two shared a passionate kiss one afternoon near a gazebo…which then led to a more intimate moment between the two.  This is what I pictured a romantic novel to be like.  Random acts of PDA over sandwiches in the backyard of a mansion.  Exactly as I pictured it.

A couple days later, Suede was leaving school only to be kidnapped by the demons from the dinner party.  I did not like where this was going, and my suspicions were soon confirmed.  They took her to what looked like some abandoned warehouse, far away from any form of help.  This was going to end poorly.  However, a connection between Suede Papa and Erik drew Erik to her location to save her, with what appeared to be bullet deflecting tentacles wrapping around his body.  I did not know what was going on, so I just decided to accept what I was seeing.  I mean, how much weirder could this story get?

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Well…

That night, Suede Papa was awaken by some weird figure looming over her bed.  What…

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Right when I though the story was coming to a close, a new wrench was thrown into the gears.  This women, named Diana, is a Succubus. Her mission?  To marry one of the guys from the house to fulfill her plan of reining over the demon world that the guys came from.  When talking to the guys about the encounter the next morning, I think Sam explained the situation in the best way possible…

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The next couple of days involved Diana trying to make Suede Papa’s life miserable.  She was trying to get under her skin by getting involved with her personal life, family, and friends.  She was trying to make Suede Papa give in to her power, going to great lengths to accomplish this goal.  Even if it meant becoming a substitute teacher at Suede Papa’s high school.  Who would have thought that Diana was a qualified substitute teacher?  I mean…I guess I should have known.  She looks like your average substitute teacher…

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The rest of the story is where we got to see the guys’ backstory on where they came from.  They showed Suede Papa visions of their life in the demon world…which is where I started to lose the story.  I came here expecting a cliché romance novel…and what I got was something out of a nightmare.  Literally…

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The nightmare soon came to a close as Diana did not manage to win over any of the Incubi staying at Suede Papa’s home.  Instead, she sucked some sexual energy from Suede Papa on her way back to the demon world.  Normally I would not be okay with this kind of ending, but it was alright because Suede Papa has enough sexual energy to go around.  Everything was going to be alright.

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Thankfully the story was over and Suede Papa’s life with Erik would continue to move along.  The others decided to leave, giving Suede Papa and Erik the entire mansion to themselves to do as they please.  I am sure their lives together could continue in more romantic novels, but I had my fill.  I was tapping out.  What did I learn during my time with Suede Papa’s story?  I learned that visual romantic novels were not my thing…and I do not think I will be revisiting them anytime soon.

Review: Hot Girls Wanted

via IMDB
via IMDB

Hot Girls Wanted (2015)

NR / 84 min.

Documentary

Starring: Farrah Abraham, Rachel Bernard, Tony D.

Directors: Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus


Documentaries about porn.  Usually I tend to stick away from them.  First of all, they are not the kinds of things you are going to sit down and watch with other people…because that’s just weird.  They also tend to highlight the glamorous party lifestyles that the people involved in the industry usually tend to lead on.  Bottom line, most of the documentaries are not good.  However, Hot Girls Wanted has been getting a lot of buzz ever since it debuted in February.  I decided to give it a look…with a slight tinge of hesitancy.

What we get from Hot Girls Wanted, produced by actress Rashida Jones, is a documentary about a certain slice of the porn industry…the amateur portion of the industry.  It’s an exploitative atmosphere for young models wanting to make it big and the documentary’s goal is to show how easy it is for a girl, turning eighteen, to get her foot in the industry’s door.  How easy you say?  All it takes is a craigslist ad and proof that you are eighteen.  Before you know it, you can be whisked away on a plane to the amateur porn hotspot they call Miami, Florida.

via Variety
via Variety

Viewers often get a candid look at a plethora of different “porn actresses” with various experience in the industry, but the main focus is put on young eighteen year old Tressa Silguero, a seemingly innocent girl who finds herself given the opportunity to make a lot of money.  She stumbles upon the craigslist ad created by Riley Reynolds, founder of Hussie Models.  (Side Note: this Reynolds character is pretty much the exact stereotype of a guy in the amateur porn industry, sleazy as can be)  Before she knows it, Tressa is making a lot of money, gaining a new following on social media, and becoming a popular teen porn star.

The documentary reveals that she has not told her parents about her new job, which is mind-blowing for me.  I cannot imagine the type of parents that would be okay with sending their baby girl, straight out of high school, on a pretty lengthy trip to Miami.  Things start to slip for Tressa and she ends up telling her parents, as well as her boyfriend, about her newfound fame in the porn industry.  The interactions between Tressa and her family were some of the weak spots of the documentary, considering all of the cameras probably take away from the authenticity of these conversations.  The interactions seem fake, especially given the subject matter that they have to discuss.  Parents who find out that their daughter has been making porn without telling them would be bouncing off the walls with anger, along with a plethora of other emotions.  Instead, we see a calm and collected mother lecturing her child.  It does not have a profound effect on the viewer.

via Movie Pilot
via Movie Pilot

Amateur porn has not been a focus of most porn documentaries, which makes Hot Girls Wanted a rare and unique breed.  The direction and focus of the documentary lacks clarity however.  The goal is to open people’s eyes about how easy it is for young women to get into porn.  Its almost meant to shock viewers.  Tressa’s story sticks with the theme, but the rest seems to glorify the young women getting into the industry.  We often see the girls having the time of their lives.  The documentary is quick to tell viewers that these models are making a lot of money pretty quickly.  All it takes is a couple of months of hard work and you can net yourself a pretty penny.  The documentary even ends with a “where are they now?” segment that shows a couple of the actresses still making it big in the industry.  Tressa ends up leaving porn behind, but it was not clear by the end of the documentary if it was trying to argue for or against the amateur porn industry.

Hot Girls Wanted did succeed in opening my eyes to the seedy underbelly of porn and the types of things that models have to endure on their rise to stardom, but the documentary lacked direction.  The cameras were intrusive as they could be, following these girls in the most candid of ways, which was interesting but led to some fake and unauthentic interactions.  I have to give Rashida Jones some credit for giving us a unique look at the industry from a different angle, but it could have been a lot better in what it was trying to accomplish.

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