Monthly Archives: March 2016

“Zootopia” Movie Review

You know all there is to know: a new Disney animated film is out in theaters. You know that’s going to be a party. This computer-animated comedy adventure released nationwide on March 4th, 2016, to overwhelming critical acclaim and record-breaking box office receipts for an animated flick. Like many other classic Disney animations, this movie is set in Zootopia, a city where anthropomorphic animals of all species supposedly live in harmony and conduct the same activities and habits as human beings. Only thing is that there is a social divide between the predators and the prey, as each have differing stereotypes of one another. The main focus is on Judy Hopps, the first bunny to ever join the Zootopia Police Department. When over 14 predators go missing, she is given 48 hours to find them, and enlists the help of sly fox conman, Nick P. Wilde, to investigate. The most surprising thing about the plot was how it wasn’t black and white with us rooting for the prey the entire time. It was a very complex conspiracy, and holds many relevant metaphors for stereotypes and prejudice of different ethnicity. I felt that each animal species in Zootopia was meant to represent a different archetype of society, such as the glutinous elephants, and the fearful bunny rabbits. The characters Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde were very memorable because they weren’t perfect people. They were imperfect beings, and without that I don’t feel they would have been as interesting to the audience. And ultimately, the focus on Judy is not any romance or relationship with Nick, although that is an undercurrent. She just wants to pursue a career as a police officer rather than become a beautiful princess. Voiced by the talented Ginnifer Goodwin, it’s her imperfections that her such a monumental character. Jason Bateman shares some great chemistry with her as Nick P. Wilde, along with the rest of the stellar cast. Idris Elba and J.K. Simmons are two of the best actors working today; we know that because we all saw Spiderman, and we all binge watched Luther. Admit it. And if you thought Frozen was a gorgeous animation movie, then you’ll be equally blown away by this one. Everything feels so polished and colorful, and the character expressions in body language is superb. I also can’t praise this movie enough for the number of clever pop culture references it makes. There are both direct and subtle references to the Godfather, contemporary Disney movies, Macy’s, Breaking Bad, and even Fifty Shades of Grey. Not even joking, there was a a billboard that read “Mr. Lemming will see you now.” Zootopia is a modern Disney classic that stands up to par with the Lion King and Aladdin. A complex, political dissection of our modern society, you can leave a comment over whether you like it better than Frozen. Bottom line: We’re in the midst of a second Disney Renaissance.

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“10 Cloverfield Lane” Movie Review

John Goodman: the likable, quotable actor. NO! John Goodman: one of the most disturbing movie characters in recent memory. That’s what we can take away from 10 Cloverfield Lane. This science-fiction horror-thriller movie premiered on March 11th, 2016. In what appears to the most secretive marketing campaign I’ve seen in quite a while, rumors of another Cloverfield movie floated around for a few years, and then the fist teaser trailer was attached to Michael Bay’s 13 Hours; almost two months before its release. Before I begin, however, I want to make it clear that this movie really has nothing to do with the first Cloverfield movie, aside from name only. It could be set within the same universe, but to go in-depth would be to spoil the surprise, so here is the only spoiler I’ll give: go out and watch 10 Cloverfield Lane. So after trying to leave her boyfriend following an argument, Michelle ends up in a major car accident in rural Louisiana. When she wakes up, she’s in a doomsday bunker below the surface, and is greeted by the proprietor Howard. Now Howard claims that he saved her life, and that the world outside as they once knew it is gone and they are the only humans left alive. There’s also Emmett, a man who claims to have witnessed the catastrophe first-hand. These three survivors try to get along with one another while waiting for the disaster above ground to blow over. Capturing tension and intrigue in a relatively confined area is tough. But keeping a good pacing is another. Make the story too slow, and the audience will find themselves bored out of their minds. Make it speedy fast, people will struggle to understand what’s going on. Yet somehow, director Dan Trachtenberg expertly pulled off these two obstacles, and delivers one heck of a tense movie. In case the intro wasn’t clear, John Goodman’s performance as Howard absolutely steals the show. Let me be clear: Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. both did a great job, but without spoiling much, Goodman’s character is really the point of the movie. This guy is unpredictable, he is creepy, and just like the movie itself, he’s ambiguous. It becomes apparent throughout the story that, fallout or not, you really don’t want to be stuck underground in this dude’s bunker ever. There are also some fairly violent scenes, but I’m going to stand up and say “this is the most violent movie of the year.” That honor goes to Deadpool. But there are a couple of moments that are shocking for a setting like this. This only adds more to the ever-growing tension. And while that tension felt dissipated by the finale, there was some nail-biting intrigue to make up for that. In the end, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not the direct sequel many fans had hoped for, but is still a strong spiritual successor. A smart and well-acted thriller, it’s already in the running for one of the year’s most memorable films thanks to the claustrophobic tension and uneasy feeling of trust. I can see many routes of where this movie could go as the start of a new franchise.

“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” Game Review

Alright, a shittillion hours later and over a year after everyone posted their reviews for this game, here I am. This open world action-adventure role-playing game launched on May 19th, 2015, garnering over 10 million copies worldwide and some of the strongest reviews of this gaming generation. I know it’s super late, but what can I say? I made a promise to my fans long ago, and I’m a man of my word. Based on a series of fantasy novels and short stories by Poland’s Andrzej Sapkowski and set in the fictional Northern Kingdoms, this third installment concludes the story of Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a witcher, a genetically modified being who is hired to slay monsters and deal out people’s problems. After experiencing a nightmare, he goes with his mentor to find his long-lost lover, Yennefer. They must reunite with their adoptive daughter, Ciri, a powerful witcher who is being pursued by the titular Wild Hunt, a group of spectral elves whose presence marks the end  of the world. But Geralt and Yennefer must also try their best to avoid the bloody, ongoing war between the Nifilgaardian Empire and Redania. I loved how the world and story managed to combine elements from both Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. While it does create fantastical beasts and creatures, the people living in the Northern Kingdoms are either poor and miserable or wealthy and scheming for more power. The central plot is not about saving the world; it’s simply about finding your loved ones and trying to stay out of politics. And Geralt is not a hero or doing the things he does out of the goodness of his heart. He just earns money. Moving onto the scale and the visual style. The Witcher 3 has some of the most beautiful graphics, most believable character model expressions, and highly detailed environments I have ever seen. Though I couldn’t play it on my PC, the resolution and smooth framerate is unparalleled. And within this astonishing world, you get to ride around a huge landscape in the Northern Kingdoms. Although these locations are separate entities and not interconnected as I was lead to believe. But when all these locations are combined, it makes up what is perhaps the largest open world game to date. No offense to Skyrim; it, too is enormous in scope and scale, but this realm is said to be roughly 20% bigger. A key mechanic required for this task was fast travel, which was missing in the previous Witcher installments. Or you could ride around on horseback with your trusty, but stubborn-and rather dumb-horse, Roach. As for the gameplay, it’s much faster and more accessible than the previous two games. The combat can take time to gel, but with time and practice, it’s challenging and rewarding. There is an element of strategy with the weapons necessary and magic potions needed for certain enemies you encounter, creature or human. And this game surprisingly has a satisfying crafting system where you can collect items and have blacksmiths make some awesome sets of armor. It isn’t without it’s flaws. I would not recommend playing at Easy Mode because the A.I. of your enemies can get jittery at times. I felt like the crossbow wasn’t very useful aside from fighting beasts underwater or in the air. It’s impact on human beings just felt inconsequential. Speaking of underwater, the Witcher 3 allows players to swim around for the first time. But the controls and camera often felt awkward, even after the first several hours of experience. While on the topic of controls, if you’re playing this game on the PC, it is essential to play with a wired controller, because it’s just unplayable in comparison with the keyboard and mouse. Sure, the game has its fair sure of glitches and crashes, but its pretty much standard for open world games these days. Plus the game now is so polished, it’s in shing mint condition. Despite the bugs and controls, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an ambitious, personal, and epic video game that improves on nearly every aspect of it’s predecessors. It touches upon a wide range of sociopolitical themes, and set in a vast world with fascinating characters and multiple solutions to complex problems. In short, The Witcher 3 is one of the greatest RPGs ever made.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Could be Terrible or Amazing

Didn’t I say there are a few posts for me to do? I wasn’t even planning a post until I realized the last time I spoke of this was critique on Marvel vs. DC. As many of you know, I actually liked Man of Steel, but acknowledged problems. I was interested in their next move, and now we’re less than a month from it’s premiere. Warner Bros. is counting on success and there is a lot of potential; both good and bad.

Ben Affleck is in Peak Form

It’s well known that Ben Affleck’s casting as the Caped Crusader was controversial. I personally didn’t see it. But in a world where seeing is believing, it doesn’t look like Affleck stumbling in a skin-tight outfit like Daredevil. That is BATMAN. He looks so bulky and muscle-bound I’m now convinced of Batfleck, especially after the last trailer. Plus Ben Affleck has recently starred in or directed a number of critically acclaimed movies, including Gone Girl and Argo. So I trust his ability to give a powerhouse performance.

David S. Goyer and Zach Snyder have Shaky Track Records

Talent in front of the camera is very different from talent behind the camera. The first draft of the script was written by David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the Dark Knight Trilogy. It’s being directed by Zach Snyder of fame from Watchmen and the Dawn of the Dead remake. Those sound like impressive resumes, but they’re also responsible for abominations such as Sucker Punch and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Granted, the screenplay was rewritten by Oscar Winning screenwriter, Chris Terrio, who also worked with Ben Affleck on Argo. Fingers crossed.

A Broadened Spectrum of DC Universe Lore

In the second trailer, it was revealed that Doomsday would be acting as a big baddie in the plot, which, depending on how you view things, may or not have spoiled the whole story of the movie. Regardless, a couple months later, a photo of Batman standing in front of a desolate, desert-like city with the Omega symbol. That’s the symbol for Apokolips, the home world of Darkseid, who is perhaps the most powerful villain in Justice League’s history. Though there are rumors that that scene might be a dream sequence, it could still be a potentially great teaser setup for one of the more complex supervillains since his inception in the 1970’s.

Then Again, Overstuffed is More Than Enough

While a broader spectrum could prove useful for fans, it could also be confusing for newcomers. One thing I’ve realized since Age of Ultron was that it was overstuffed with too many quips, pointless fan service, and underdeveloped, forced characters. While Marvel slowly builds their conflicts and relationships over a few movies (for the most part), DC is introducing its key characters right away. Not only will Batman make his debut, but also Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, Doomsday, and supposedly Robin. Even with a theatrical runtime of a whopping 2 hours and 31 minutes, that still sounds like a lot of characters and Easter eggs completely shoehorned into the film. Though, there was a recent confirmation that some scenes and characters had been cut and supposed saved for the Ultimate R-Rated Edition.

It looks and Feels Different

One of the most important aspects of a comic book movie is to distinguish itself from others with a fresh tone and vibe. Deadpool was incredibly self-aware and hilarious, The Dark Knight Trilogy was gritty and realistic, and Ant Man was a family-friendly superhero heist movie. After Man of Steel established the darker and edgier tone for the DC Extended Universe, it caught many viewers off guard. This next installment looks to continue with that trend, yet stands on its own by taking inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns with the major theme of accountability for a reckless vigilante’s actions that could result in major consequences. While it may share a lot of similarities with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, it does have the advantage of releasing in late March, allowing itself to have at least a month to dominate the box office.

So are you excited for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Do you think it will suck? Whatever you think, leave a comment. And be sure to Follow my blog for more awesome content.