Tag Archives: apocalypse

Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

xmen apoc posterX-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

PG-13 / 144 min

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

Director: Bryan Singer


The X-Men movies have always been low on the totem pole for me.  When you look at the different franchises that Marvel has put out, the X-Men universe usually ranks pretty low because I don’t have the affinity for the characters as much as I do with some of the other franchises.  It also gets confusing when they throw in a bunch of different characters and plot points, especially with the Days of Future Past and First Class.  In the series’ latest addition, X-Men: Apocalypse, the stakes are raised but the movie manages to provide more of the same.  I went in with pretty low expectations and came out pleasantly surprised, despite some of the movie’s misfires.

xmen apoc 1
via Fan Pop

Maybe the name of the movie hasn’t jumped out at you yet, but it should be easy to hypothesize that this movie has heavy circumstances at stake, including the end of the world and it’s up for the X-Men, once again, to save the earth from the clutches of evil.  Sound like a superhero movie yet?  After being buried thousands and thousands of years ago, the first mutant, who goes by the name Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), remerges from the dark depths with the intent of taking a steamroller to society, starting fresh again under his rule.  Think of it like Noah’s Ark, except with much worse intentions.  Although his powers are seemingly incredible, he can’t carry out his mission by himself, which is why he assembles a team of powerful mutants, including the likes of Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Pyslocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

After Apocalypse literally sends a ripple through the earth, the mutants at Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) academy realize that they are going to need to unify in order to take down the looming threat.  Retuning folks like Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and even Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) make an appearance while newcomers Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) share the screen as well.  Whew, got all of the names out of the way.  There’s a bunch of characters vying for screen time but the film’s handling of these characters is one thing that Apocalypse gets right.  There’s character moments galore, especially with the fan-favorite Quicksilver who steals the show numerous times, to no surprise.  Although most of these moments don’t really amount to much, they still put a smile on your face. In terms of the newcomers, both Sophie Turner and Kodi Smit-McPhee did a great job with their characters, while Tye Sheridan’s depiction of Cyclops was hit or miss.  They were collectively alright, but some shined more than others.  It’s also worth mentioning that Jennifer Lawrence was pretty great as well.  It’s looking pretty murky for the future of her involvement in the series, which could be a big blow for subsequent movies going forward.

xmen apoc 2
via Zap2it

As I’ve mentioned before, the scope and brevity of this movie is hard to deny.  With a movie that teases the end of the world, it only makes sense that the bars are raised.  The story, plot holes and all, might not mean that much in the end, but it provides for a dumb fun roller coaster of a ride.  The set pieces are gigantic and the fight scenes are well choreographed and engaging.  There were a couple of times where I was like, wow, this movie looks pretty great.  Days of Future Past featured Magneto’s upheaval of RFK stadium, but Apocalypse has a moment or two that definitely rivals its predecessor’s crowing moment.

Where Apocalypse trips up is with its titular villain, and his surrounding four henchmen.  Oscar Isaac’s early moments as the god-like villain were fun to watch, but as the second and third act started to unfold, his powers started to become inconsistent as he constantly bended the rules.  The concept of a dangerous doomsday villain like Apocalypse is cool, but they mishandled his character, giving him powers that made me wonder why he even needed any help in the first place.  In fact, he probably could have single handedly taken out the X-Men himself if he really wanted to.  Speaking of his hour helpers, what was the point of even having them in this movie?  With the exception of Storm, the other three mutants on Apocalypse’s team were pretty unnecessary as far as story goes.  They’re also never painted as being dangerous.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but let’s just say the team gets broken up in the form of a little whimper that will easily be forgettable the second you step outside the theater.  It’s a shame because they could have been so much more.  Instead, they were relegated to throwaway character material.

xmen apoc 3
via Collider

Apocalypse leaves things in a pretty good place as it comes to a close, which should give any fan of the series some hope for the franchise’s future.  Let’s be honest, the X-Men series has had its fair share of ups and downs.  It’s why I set my expectations for this movie pretty low.  Although the movie carries some flaws, it was actually a lot better than I thought it was initially going to be.  Maybe this is a product of my low expectations.  Who knows, this could be a pretty bad movie.  However, I’m pretty confident that if you’re a fan of the X-Men, then this might be a movie worth seeing.  As for everyone else, it’s another superhero movie…so do with that what you will?

xmen apoc score

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Review: The Walking Dead: Michonne

michonne cover
via PC Gaming Wiki

The Walking Dead: Michonne (2016)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Telltale Games

Developer: Telltale Games


The Walking Dead games are what put Telltale Games on the map.  Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true but they have definitely given the company the most success.  Both season one and season two of their episodic adventure games based on the comic books were critically acclaimed and set the company on the right direction.  With Telltale’s latest installment in the franchise, The Walking Dead: Michonne, they decided to take a different direction in more ways than one, but some of these directions don’t pay off in the end.

michonne 1
via YouTube

Unlike the previous two adventures, The Walking Dead: Michonne hones in on the story of Michonne, a protagonist from the comics.  She’s a stoic figure who doesn’t really talk much unless she needs to.  She’s also dealing with some psychological demons involving her two dead daughters, which is the aspect of her character that the story focuses the most on.  For those wondering, the story takes place between the comic’s issues 126 and 139.  (I haven’t read the comics myself, or seen the show for that matter, so I wouldn’t know.)

Another thing that Telltale does differently with Michonne is its three-episode format, unlike the normal five-six-episode format that most are used to.  There’s nothing wrong with going down the short-form adventure route, but it makes developing a meaningful and impactful story pretty difficult.  It can be done, but it’s tough to do.  Unfortunately, Michonne falls short of giving us an impactful story, which is due in part to the short time we have with the characters.  I grew attached to Michonne, as she was the main protagonist, but all of the other side characters and antagonists meant nothing to me really.  They had their moments, sure, but I wanted to spend more time with them in the end.  Just like the previous games, there will be deaths and tough decisions to make, but they ultimately didn’t matter to me in the end.  It also doesn’t help that the episodes were short in comparison.  I just didn’t feel that attached to what was going on onscreen.

michonne 3
via Rocket Chainsaw

Speaking of decisions, the game plays just as you’d expect.  Telltale hasn’t reinvented the wheel with Michonne, giving you an all-too-familiar gameplay experience.  You will participate in quick time events.  You will pick dialogue choices.  You will walk around small little environments.  You will make some pivotal decisions.  These decisions don’t really have consequence however.  The decisions also weren’t that hard to make either.  It almost felt like Telltale was just laboring through the motions, pumping out a paint-by-the-numbers experience similar to their other games without really putting any thought into what they were doing.

This is all a shame because The Walking Dead: Michonne has a gripping drama in its hands.  Michonne has a tough and quiet exterior, but on the inside there is a bevy of bottled up guilt and sadness that literally haunt her as she moves along.  During her travels she comes across a friendly crew of sailors as well as a small band of vicious and deadly survivors.  How she deals with these new people, as well as the situations she is thrust into, are by far the most enticing aspect the game has to offer.  Telltale has an interesting story to tell, it’s just too bad its brought down by some of the more technical facets of the game.

michonne 2
via Game Over

If you were a fan of the previous Walking Dead installments by Telltale (which most probably are) then this might warrant a look.  There’s some cool stuff the game brings to the table, but just know what you’re getting into.  Wane your expectations.  If your new to the series, then it’s hard to justify a play through of The Walking Dead: Michonne.  I would recommend the previous two installments, but that’s about it.

The Walking Dead: Michonne_20160405165941

Also available on PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Review: Pacific Rim

pacific rim poster
via Pintrest

Pacific Rim (2013)

PG-13 / 131 min

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi

Director: Guillermo del Toro


In some alternate universe, I’d like to imagine that Godzilla and the Transformers exist together.  In that universe they are fighting each other in front of the backdrop of a towering city, leaving fiery destruction in their wake.  Monster versus technology in one epic battle for the ages.  Alright, this is a pipe dream of mine but Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s epic summer blockbuster, is the closest thing I have to my pipe dream.

pacific rim 1
via Anonymous Blog

Everything about Pacific Rim defines it as a summer blockbuster.  The film has epic battle sequences with massive set pieces.  It’s colorful, explosive, and thrilling.  Massive sea creatures, known as the Kaiju, are threatening humankind.  They come from an alternate universe and their main mission is the destruction of mankind.  In an effort to put a stop to this threat, massive weaponized robots called Jaegers are developed as the prime offensive against the Kaiju.  These mechs, piloted by humans, are mankind’s last hope against the apocalypse at the hands of the Kaiju.

As the war rages on, two pilots are called to lead a mission that involves a big showdown between the Jaegers and the Kaiju.  Raleigh Becket, played by Charlie Hunnam, is a trained pilot who has experience in the cockpit of a Jaeger while Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi, is a trainee who has had some history with the Kaiju in a different way.  Unlike most big summer action movies, these characters are actually likable.  They’re not just meatheads piloting mechs, but instead they have some memorable moments that set them apart from most characters of their type.  Idris Elba however might have had the best performance as commander Stacker Pentecost.

PACIFIC RIM
via Nerdist

In terms of story, Guillermo del Toro takes a lot of creative liberties.  The science behind the movie’s events is a little silly and sometimes the logic wasn’t always there.  The nature of the movie’s events doesn’t warrant realism but they could have maybe tried a little harder to make it seem more believable.  It also doesn’t help that the two scientists, Dr. Newton Geiszler and Gottlieb, played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman respectively, are silly and don’t really seem qualified for their jobs.  Despite the film’s questionable logic, the film still manages to stand it’s ground.  The science is goofy and laughable, but that didn’t detract from the overall experience.

What makes this movie a standout is the visual experience that it offers.  The CGI that the movie employs is fantastic.  It’s colorful, explosive, and just really well done.  The battles between mech and sea monster were epic in scope and feel.  Buildings crumble in their wake as the gargantuan giants swing punches and throw each other around.  It was delicious candy for the eyes.  As I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but think about the kind of work that went into bringing the movie to life through its CGI.  The visual effects department put in a lot of work into the movie and it really shows.  With a movie like this, I have to give a shout out to the visual effects crew behind the movie, because Pacific Rim wouldn’t be the movie it is without its special effects.

PACIFIC RIM
via Destroy the Brain

Pacific Rim is a movie that deserves a lot more praise.  It was underrated when it was initially released during the summer of 2013, but it could be considered one of 2013’s biggest surprises.  Sometimes movies as big as this fall pretty hard under the weight of their own size but this film manages to stay on its feet.  It’s full of great characters and memorable action set pieces.  My younger self would have probably been obsessed with Pacific Rim and its undeniably monumental action, but it’s safe to say that even though I am older now, I still really like this movie.

pacific rim score

Review: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season

via Fone Arena
via Fone Arena

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (2012)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Telltale Games

Developer: Telltale Games


Thanks to recent success, Telltale Games has become a household name among gaming fans.  They are now a well-oiled machine that is putting out their now famous brand of adventure games, with a focus on storytelling, at breakneck speeds.  Contrary to what you might assume, most of these games are actually pretty good.  The game that put Telltale on the map and started their second wind was their episodic adaptation of The Walking Dead.  It was a game that was highly regarded among critics and fans alike, garnering a massive following.

What made this game special for people was two things.  First, the two main characters that you follow through the story were extremely well done.  Lee Everett is a good man that has another side to him.  We first see him being hauled away to the slammer due to a mishap in his relationship.  On the way to prison, the police car runs into a zombie on the road and they are propelled into the nearby grass.  The action begins.  Lee manages to escape the site, only to stumble upon a house that seems to have another soul in hiding.  Cue the introduction of Clementine, a rather young and shy little girl that has been hiding away in her house for a while now.  Her parents are gone and she would not have survived if Lee did not stumble upon her house.

via Games N More
via Games N More

Telltale does an amazing job from the get go of making you really care about the two characters.  Lee is faced with a big challenge in helping Clementine with finding her parents, as well as survival.  Clementine should not be painted as a deadweight, but instead as a lightbulb for Lee.  Lee has some trouble coming to grips with the morality of some of the decisions that he has made in his life, and Clementine acts as a moral compass from that point forward.  The two grow quickly attached to each other just as fast as the player gets attached to them.  The scenes involving the two lead characters were by far some of the best scenes from the whole series.

The other thing that really makes the game special is Telltale’s style of adventure game that they instituted with this release.  When the game came out, gone was the format of the traditional adventure game and in with Telltale’s new format of quick time events and heavy decision making.  There is a greater emphasis on story this time around and every dialogue option that you choose in the game has an effect on how things play out, whether big or small.  They do not give you a whole lot of time to make these decisions either.  I often found myself making impulse choices and saying things I did not mean to say.  That might be frustrating to some, but it only makes complete sense.  With the world in shambles due to the zombie outbreak and its people facing immense danger every day, there are going to be a lot of impulse decisions being made.

via Pure Xbox
via Pure Xbox

Each episode of the five episode season has a set of tough decisions that you have to make, and boy do these decisions live up to their name.  Some hit you right in the face in terms of toughness, but others do not seem like they make a big difference at the time, but they end up influencing the story in ways you could not imagine.  There is a moment towards the halfway mark on the season that was tough to swallow for a lot of reasons.  I am not going to spoil anything, but anybody who has played the game should already know what I’m talking about.  What happened was out of my realm of control, and it made me feel helpless.  The game gives you a chance to react, and I acted impulsively, and maybe a little irrationally, when faced with the decision of dealing with a character.  I have never felt that kind of feeling before in a game, and it was great and infuriating at the same time.

via What Culture
via What Culture

The supporting cast of characters that you tag along with during Lee’s journey with Clementine all bring a lot to the table in terms of greatness.  The game was almost flawless in getting me to somewhat care about all the characters that it gave me.  The last two episodes of the season after things are shaken up in the middle leave players with, in my opinion, some of the weaker links when it comes to characters, which made the decisions I had to make a little easier to stomach.

Once again, I am not going to spoil anything in terms of story, but the finale takes what’s left of your heart strings and rips them out with ferocity.  The game twists and turns and plays with your emotions, leaving you tired by the end.  The final moments of the game, where it’s just Lee and Clementine together, make for some tear-worthy moments.  I am not one to cry during any form of entertainment, but I have talked to people who have.  It’s a rough portion to play through, and it wraps everything up in a hard but satisfying way.

via Giant Bomb
via Giant Bomb

The complete edition comes with the DLC that was released with the game called 400 Days.  It tells the story of a wide variety of other people in the form of short playable chapters.  I thought it was a nice little break from the main story, but given how quickly the game runs through the stories, I found it hard to get attached to these characters like I did in the main offering.  The decisions that they gave you in these chapters did not have the same effect as a result.  The special episode ended in head-scratch worthy fashion, with a confrontation that I was not expecting.  Overall, 400 Days gives players a fun little experience in the world of The Walking Dead, but it is not necessary.

The Walking Dead does a ton of great things that were sometimes tainted by some technical problems.  There was a lot of hitching and sometimes the game chugged along in terms of performance.  These are minor quibbles on a masterpiece of a game, but it’s a game that is not going to win any awards in the technical categories.  This might not be your traditional adventure game, but it was a milestone for Telltale, setting a foundation for their future in the game industry.  The Walking Dead was a game that tried a lot of new things, telling an amazing story.  If you were ever on the fence, make time to play through this gem of a game.

the walking dead s1 score

Also available on PC, Mac, PS3, PSVita, Xbox 360, iPad, iPhone