How A Capella managed to become such a huge phenomenon in the last few years I probably won’t understand. Maybe it was this film’s predecessor. This musical comedy was released on May 15th, 2015, going on to gross over $199 million at the worldwide box office, and even managed to top School of Rock as the highest grossing music comedy of all time. The original Pitch Perfect was released back in 2012; it was a surprise hit with a modest budget and had several people around the world singing the song Cups by Anna Kendrick, gained global recognition for her part. She continues the lead role in the sequel as Beca Mitchell, a senior member of the Bardon Bella singing group. After a humiliating performance in front of President Obama on his birthday, the Bellas are suspended by the deans, but strike up a deal: If they win the world championship of A Capella, they can be reinstated. Meanwhile, a quirky freshman named Emily, played by Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld, continues her mother’s legacy by joining the Bellas almost mid-year. So it comes a surprise that even though the plot is pretty predictable, you are invested in every moment. The first thing you’ll notice about this sequel is that it has a clearly bigger budget than it’s predecessor, as their is an abundance of cameos. These include Snoop Dogg, the cast of The Voice, Keegan-Michael Key, David Cross, hell, even the Green Bay Packers sing a few songs. Yes, you read correctly: The Green Bay Packers sing A Capella in this movie. But the person who steals the show is definitely Rebel Wilson, who plays the hilarious Fat Amy. Speaking of the humor, this time around, the humor felt slightly shoved down my throat. For example, I thought the opening, while pretty funny, was throwing out a lot of jokes at once. But hey, that’s not why we watch this movie; certainly not me. It’s the soundtrack and music. And by God, whatever shortcomings the cast and writing may have had is made up for by the music. Excellent covers of Beyonce, Fallout Boy, and 90’s hip-hop anthems, along with Anna Kendrick’s hit single, Cups, are welcome additions. Especially those performed by the incredibly talented European team called Das Sound Machine. Aside from winning the championship, the Bardon Bellas slowly learn the value of friendship and the importance of moving on with our lives. Something captured in a rather lackluster original song by Emily. Anyway, if you like comedies and sing-along musicals, then Pitch Perfect 2 should be able to please you.
Fus-Ro-Dah! This open world fantasy RPG was released on November 11, 2011, and soon sold over 20 million copies worldwide across all systems. Before I begin, let me address the stupid practice by ZeniMax that will piss you off. Why the hell am I paying for mods in the Steam Workshop that I could easily download for free? Glad that’s out of the way. Anyway I first got this game for the PS3 on Legendary Edition with all 3 of its DLCs: Dragonborn, Hearthfire,and Dawnguard. My favorite is definitely Dragonborn, as it ties to the main story. Speaking of which, set 200 years after the events of Oblivion, the Nordic god of Destruction, Alduin, comes down to Earth in the form of a dragon. As the last event prophesiezed by the Elder Scrolls, he awakes the world’s dormant dragons in an attempt to destroy the world. The Dragonborn, a mortal chosen by the gods to wield the power of dragons, is the only one who can stop them. There are also two separate major stories. The Nordic Stormcloaks, led by Ulfric, are waging a civil war against the Imperials. And the Dark Elves are secretly planning their dominance over the Imperials. After an extensive character creation, players get to go out into the beautiful and massive world of Skyrim, so if you see a city in the distance, chances are that you can go there and invest more hours. The developers have also added a new character development system that allows you to follow any playstyle you want. As if that weren’t enough, the dragon fights are epic, the quests are diverse and nearly endless, and the number of things to do is amazing. It’s sad, though that these are marred by a few technical issues. Mainly the glitches. I didn’t run into anything serious; the worst that happened was one dragon fight glitch late in the game. The A.I. can also be inconsistent, ranging from completely normal to really questionable. My worst moment came when I exited a cave and my companion managed to stop moving for at least minute. When taken into consideration, however, these problems are almost insignificant compared to the scope of the game. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a mountain full of replay value for me to sink my teeth into.
Just one more game to go after this review. This first-person shooter was released on May 20th, 2014, becoming an instant critical and commercial success. After the 2009 Wolfenstein was a large disappointment to fans, Bethesda and Id Software change the story to flat-out alternate history. The prologue starts in 1946 with the United States making one last desperate attack on the technologically advanced Nazis. After a rather pointless morality choice of which soldier to let die, the protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, goes into a coma for the next 14 years in a Polish mental hospital. When he wakes up, he sees that the Nazis have won World War II, and sets out to join the Resistance to stop them. When I first arrived at their base of operations, I realized that all of the characters are flawed, yet human and sympathetic. They’re just rational people in an irrational world. Meanwhile, hating the Nazis feels fresh again, as they have terrifying robot dogs, disturbing personalities, and even playing simple card games makes them unlikable. Now I just love Bethesda because of their detail of content. Since this isn’t an open world RPG, there was even more detail packed in it. The graphics and art direction are excellent, the character models and animations are near flawless. The sound design is pitch perfect. Careful players will hear subtle clues to enemies positions or where to find a specific object in the area. Another thing the game does so well is the thought of killing Nazis. While killing them is still fun, it’s slightly grim to murder living, breathing people. You can almost feel the crushing guilt that sits upon the main protagonists, but doesn’t take itself too seriously that we still can’t have a blast killing space Nazis on the Moon. The level design is also worth noting. The layout is fully explorable and allows you to choose your path, rather than, say, shoving you down a tight corridor and have you in awe if the color layout is slightly different. It should also be noted that this a mature game; there is bigotry from the Nazis, uniquely bloody deaths, and a few intense moments. Much to my friend’s dismay, there is no Denver Airport mentioning in the game, even though the runaway is curiously shaped like a swastika. Be prepared for that. If you can handle that, than you’re going do have a blast playing Wolfenstein: The New Order. I certainly did.
Before I start this year, I have to review at least one last game from last year. This open world action-adventure video game was published on September 30th, 2014, becoming somewhat of a surprise hit. There are two DLCs are out currently: Lords of the Hunt and The Bright Lord. I haven’t played either of them yet, so I don’t know if their worth it. But this game totally is. Taking place between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you play as Talion, a Ranger, whose family is killed by the Black Hand of Sauron. Though he doesn’t actually die. He is bonded with a Wraith named Celebrimbor who was responsible for the making of the Rings of Power. They decide that in order to break the curse, they must kill the Black Hand of Sauron. The gameplay seems like a beautiful melange of the combat and investigation mechanics from Batman: Arkham and the parkour and exploration from Assassin’s Creed. But what truly makes Shadow of Mordor unique is the Nemesis System. This is where you keep track of the 20 most feared Orc captains and their 5 warchiefs, whom you can kill and even manipulate in side missions. Despite being a desolate rain-covered wasteland, Mordor is quite beautiful. The environments are surprisingly varied and are joy to look at. You get to learn more about these landscapes in a rich appendix, which expads the lore without fixing it. There are also some pretty fun side missions. These include getting new upgrades for your weapons and save some enslaved humans from custody. Though after a while you’ll just stop bothering. The missions I was most obsessed with were the ones involving the Nemesis System, were I could dwindle the armies of Mordor. This brings me to my first big negative. It’s the protagonist, Talion. He’s just not very interesting. His abilities are cool, but his back-story is kind of generic. Other characters, though, fair much better. Including a cameo appearance from Gollum, who sadly was not reprised by Andy Serkis. Also, I noticed that the story is relatively short, lasting me about 30 to 35 missions total. That’s likely because the final boss battle was, though not terrible, very anti-climactic. Now I spent over 40 hours in the Land of Mordor, and could’ve probably spent 50 in my first playthrough. And I eager to see the difference with the Nemesis System on my second. This is one of my favorite games of the next generation, and one that I and many fans will defend to death.
Well, this is a pretty late post, but I still couldn’t ignore it. What can I say that won’t immediately label my future posts as biased or untrustworthy? I guess I should be honest. Okay, first trailer reactions: “Oh um…alright. I guess that’s what Disney has done to our sacred Galaxy Far, Far Away.” The second trailer reactions: “Oh my God, yes!! I am so in for the ride! That looks so cool!” Glad I got that out of the way. I’m interested about the new cast of characters as well as those from yesteryear. If it’s to be believed, there should be a female protagonist this time around. And the iconic universe shall be expanded, hopefully without trying to retcon and fix the lore. And then there’s that new lightsaber. When it was first revealed, it caused a gigantic storm from fans over whether or not it’s weird, cool, out-of-place, or just flat-out stupid. For me, I think it was more of a reaction like, “whoa, what? What is that? Maybe they time to develop some new technology in the universe. I guess we’ll find out.” That was pretty mush my thoughts on both trailers. And I like second one much more than the first. I am eager to see what J.J. Abrams has in store for us. Be sure to leave you’re thoughts in the comments and remember to Like and Follow my blog for more posts.
I absolutely had to come back and talk about the Avengers. Their were too awesome for me to ignore. This superhero action film was released on May 1st, 2015. At $279 million dollars, Age of Ultron is one of the most expensive Marvel films to date, but has still managed to gross $646 million at the box office so far. In yet another risky cross-over, The Avengers have to take down Ultron, an A.I. that Tony Stark created, but didn’t intend to become evil. The film gets off to a great start with one long tracking shot of the team plowing through a heavily armed Hydra army. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen join the cast as the twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, two orphans who received telekinetic and Super-speed powers. They eventually decide to work with the titular villain, who is so expertly played by James Spader that he was applauded off-set by the cast and crew. Perhaps the only fault with the plot is the developing romance between Black Widow and the Hulk, because it feels somewhat out of place. Hawkeye and his apparent family could’ve also used a tad more characterization. MArvel continues to blend action, comedy, drama, and heart without one dominating the other. The best example of this would be when Ultron and Iron Man treat each other like a father and a son during an intense battle. The orchestral soundtrack by Danny Elfman and Brian Tyler brings out the intensity of the battles, especially during the Hulk duel and the final climax. However, I must say that I had higher hopes for the end credit scene, as I had wished it could introduce Doctor Strange into the Universe. But overall, despite several minor flaws, Age of Ultron is superhero entertainment at it’s finest form . I have no trouble watching this film again and again.
“Gee, Cade. We’d all love to hear your thoughts on Chappie.” Alright then, readers. In my own opinion, Chappie can get dismembered in a workshop. A) I haven’t had the time see Chappie in the theaters. B) I’m just not very interested in it. Sure it’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure if it’s well executed. So I’m just forget about it, and talk about a movie that I really like. In this case, it’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This British comedy was originally released on April 9th, 1975, and is approaching it’s 40th birthday. Becoming a cult classic, the film spawned many iconic comedy scenes and quotes that are recited by film buffs the world over today(Including myself). The plot satirizes Arthurian Legend, following King Arthur as he and his Knights of the Round Table are tasked by God to find the Holy Grail. The Pythons use their intellectual and philosophical humor to great effect as each scene is layered with all types of gags. Perhaps the most memorable was when King Arthur had a duel with the Black Knight in which Arthur dismembers every limb off the knight’s body, even though he claims “Tis but a scratch.” Or how about the scene when the Knights are insulted by a French soldier, who says that their mother was a hamster and their father smelt of elder berries? Oh, and let’s not forget the ridiculous battle between the Knights and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Basically, every scene in this film is as intelligent as it is hilarious. This is a must-see for film-buffs, as long as your try not to take it seriously.