Yakuza 0 (First Impressions):

[This first impression contains spoilers]

I played about two hours of this game today. It was wacky and over the top in every way you’d expect of a Japanese melodrama. Yet, its core it had something I wasn’t expecting, a mafia story.

I haven’t played heaps of the game, in fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Yet the game very proudly tells me spraying stuff in people’s face while brawling somehow ‘sobers’ them up. Karaoke is a real rhythm mini-game. The combat is bombastic and fun. In fact, the combat in someways feel like a rhythm game of their own.

The voice acting, so far, is really good. It has just the right amount of dramatic yelling, filled with a good amount of pauses.

So far, I’m intrigued. Awesome!

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God of War: The Throwing Axe Simulator

[This review contains spoilers]

When I first started the game, I thought it was perfect. That feeling carried for the first 5 or so hours before cracks started to show. Enemies soon lost their initial feeling of variety, the word opens up, which can break the pacing of the game and the over the shoulder camera can get in the way, making you unable to readily see where attacks are coming from.

Yet that same camera provided the game with such a feeling of immersion, in someways it was worth the issues of combat, for just the feeling of intimacy that it provided to the game.

I really enjoyed the story, a man trying to atone and escape his sins. Trying to raise a son, and causing his illness, by denying the truth to him. I thought for the most part, it was very well done. Except for when ‘Boy’, also known as Atreus, starts to think he’s better than everyone else because he’s a God. I found it to be a moment of tonal whiplash that came out of nowhere, though its resolution was satisfactory. Why did he begin acting like that to begin with? It was rather out of personality.

The mythology of the world truly is what pulls you in, with Kratos interacting with these foreign Gods with a certain disdain. Mirir is truly a highlight, explaining the world around you in a truly organic way.

Kratos’ relationship with his son is also a strong aspect, he obviously loves his son, but doesn’t know how to express it. It’s touching watching him learn how to truly be a father. Also, with his wife’s death hanging over both their heads, it’s touching watching them both mourn her.

The gameplay is also fun. To me this game has good combat, but it can be repetitive. Despite that, it’s satisfying upgrading your character and son. Becoming stronger is noticeable and a welcome aspect to the game.

An easy criticism would be to say God of War is a ‘throwing axe simulator, also known as the land of invisible walls’. Yet that’s be simplifying it. Yes, a lot of the combat can just be throwing the axe, yes, the invisible walls can be immersion breaking, but these are small complaints.

The set-pieces in this game truly are breathtaking, the art direction creates a beautiful and fully realised world. I recommend this game to anyone.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This film is both a squeal and prequel of the original. It’s literally a cerebration Donna’s life. She died in the sequel, but the prequel is all about her journey to Greece and the three men she slept with.

I found the modern day, surrounded by Sophie’s mourning for the mother, Donna, to be rather touching. I enjoyed that life went on, she wanted to continue with her mothers hotel, she wanted to make her proud.

However her relationship with Sky is strained. He wants to remain in New York for career opportunities, she wants to stay on the island. The line is brought up, she should tell him that she loves him more than this fight.

Donna in her youth is wild, fun and is looking for something in life. Honestly, the prequel had the type of youthful energy this movie needed.

The shifts between the present and the past were a little sloppy and not always a smooth transition, but at least the film tried to be different. I’ll give it credit there.

The musical numbers are well done, and shot nicely. No as good as West Side Story, but that isn’t a fair comparison.

This film is sappy, made to make you cry and kick back and forget about life for a few hours. The acting is fine, the singing is good, with a few standout moments. It was nice listening to Abba songs that weren’t as popular.

The tensions happened naturally enough. The ending had a nice poignant moment where Sophie baptises her child, while Donna does the same for her. In that same small church on that lonely Greek island.

Yet that’s the main crux of the film, you’re never really alone. Yes, drama will happen, you won’t always get along with people. Maybe those boys you left, would come back, and decide that all three of them will be your daughters father.

You never know. Life is odd and mysterious, but there will always be people there to take care of you. That’s the overall message of the film, and I approve.

West Side Story (1961) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

I didn’t expect what I got out of this film. I thought it’d be a fun romance, what I got was far more. It’s a very nuanced and mature film. The way it was shot is almost poetic. I didn’t expect for it to start with an aerial view of the city. Something that almost every TV show and movie does now, but something I almost never see from movies of that era.

It was lovely seeing New York in the 1960s, it really drew me into that time period, firmly establishing the mood of the film.

The dancing was excellent and very masculine, not something I can often say about a musical. The way the camera moved with the dancers, as if it was apart of the choreography, it reminded me of Gene Kelly.

This film is definitely a really good version of Romeo and Juliet, even better than the original in my mind. There are things that are done that I just think overall makes the story stronger. For example, Maria and Tony never marry like Romeo and Juliet, but they imagine what it would be like; saying their vows. It’s more realistic, but shows their commitment to each other, yes they basically just met yesterday, but they are madly in love.

The thing that really sets this film apart, besides the great music and dancing (and I don’t say that flippantly, the music really is great). It’s the racial tensions. Maria is Puerto Rican, and so is her friends and family. Her brother is in a Puerto Rican gang, that fight an American gang.

Both sides are young, and both are stupid. The film doesn’t take sides, it shows that the Puerto Rican gang feel alienated by American society and, to some extent, feel the weigh of racism on their backs. Yet the Puerto Rican immigrants argue amongst themselves, stating how America is a land of opportunity, yet they some of them spit back, sure if you’re ‘white’.

Yet, to counter these arguments is the American gang, this ‘land of opportunity’ produced them. Kids that are on the bad side of the law, from broken homes, that only feel at home on the streets fighting for their one bit of road. They only have each other as family, and they’re not going to give that up for anything.

These racial tensions in the film aren’t just between the Americans and the Puerto Ricans, it’s amongst the immigrants themselves. That’s what makes this film so nuanced, and just poignant.

Both sides are idiotic in the end, because that violence ends up with death on both sides. It shows that if you allow for that kind of hate and anger fill you up, nothing good will come if it. There is no winning in a war they literally created.

I did think there were some weaknesses in the film, like Maria just forgiving Tony after killing her brother almost instantly, but moments like that were few and far in-between. The film mostly overcomes them with just how good everything else is.

This film is easily recommended for anyone. Check it out, if you want a serious film that actually means something.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (2017) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

More of the same is best way to describe this expansion.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I liked Horizon Zero Dawn, I thought it was a good game, and I think this is a good expansion. What I liked most about it was the amount of content you get with it.

This is very similar to amount of extra content that Witch 3 and Oblivion gave you. Most modern games don’t go out of there way to give you this much content anymore. A lot of DLC is throwaway nowadays, so its nice to see something that really does feel like an expansion.

Now one of the biggest issue I had with The Frozen Wilds was the difficulty curb was too hard in my opinion. It also taught me something else, that once you play the ‘new game plus’ mode, you can’t change the difficulty, which is in a word: Bullshit.

It hampered my overall enjoyment, despite it being a well made game.

The Frozen Wilds really did make me appreciate one thing though, Horizon Zero Dawn was, and is, beautiful. The visuals are still stunning, even when compared to new game releases.

Another issue I had with the game is that it felt like a rehash, like they didn’t know what to do with the plot; so they just rinsed and repeated what they had before, which just came across as lazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s competently written, and there is nothing wrong with it. This game just could’ve been better.

I mean I liked the characters introduced, like Ourea, that worships an AI like a God, but somehow still befriends her. I always liked how Horizon handled these tribes people explanation of technology as something magical, it’s the contrast between the future and the primitive that’s just so interesting.

However outside that, don’t expect much, like I stated before it’s more of the same. While that isn’t bad, that isn’t a great thing either.

Demolition Man (1993) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

Fun is the definition of this film.

If you want cheesy one liners, a dumb plot, silliness with every breath. Then this is the film for you. It was exactly what I wanted from it.

Hell I even got more. It was surprisingly prescient, I mean, it obviously ripped off better Sci-Fi, with implants and the type of fascism that it entails. I liked that it mentioned thought provoking things like that. I mean there were people that were known as the ‘leftovers’ that lived underground. They resisted those that were both metaphorically and literally above them.

I loved that it wasn’t afraid to even mention how a utopia of peace, can be twisted.

Please keep in mind, this film isn’t deep. There isn’t a problem in this film that can’t be punched better, yet it is deceptively complex.

Is it okay to have peace when it’s against the law to have salt, or to swear? Where words like fuck are banned?

Where people make up dumb words to ‘curse’ appropriately within the law?

The underground people are literally starving, because they choose not to be apart of the ‘utopia’, but as a result have to fight for food. There is a social commentary there. Is freedom worth it?

Again, the film doesn’t ask too many hard questions, but the context of the film’s setting is surprisingly interesting and comedic.

The main character John Spartan (a great name) is played wonderfully straight by Sylvester Stallone. Yet Wesley Snipes is the real star of the film, he has the best delivery of perfectly cheesy dialogue. He added so much to what could’ve been a boring villain. He was charismatic, goofy, and just plain evil.

I mean, he stole guns from a museum.

If that doesn’t explain what kind of film this is, then this film definitely isn’t for you.

Disenchantment Season 1 Review (2018)

[This review will contain spoilers]

This show is the very definition of ‘okay’.

It was created by Matt Groening, who also created the Simpsons and Futurama. Two shows that had some of the best animated comedy you’ll see. They’ve both got their weak points. Simpsons became a victim of its own success by lasting far beyond the point of being good anymore, and Futurama was at it’s best in its earlier seasons.

Disenchantment on the other hand is a different fairy tale (I know, bad joke).

It’s unique, despite its art style being reminiscent of the previous shows mentioned. It most certainly not the type of show that you should take seriously, which in some ways is a step back from the Simpsons, which was surprisingly mature. One episode that springs to mind is when Homer is guilt ridden over the idea of cheating on his wife, so he doesn’t.

Don’t expect anything like that in this show, it’s silly, and sometimes a little forced, like the last few seasons of Futurama.

Elfo is an annoying as hell character, that I’m more than happy was killed off (please don’t bring him back). Luci, a demon, is the ‘other’ sidekick, that has funny and witty one liners that’s a much better character when he’s left in that role.

Princess Bean in the main character, and she’s a bit dumb, but a capable fighter and loyal friend. Her morality seems to change with the wind, which can be surprisingly funny. It’s unfortunate however, that many of the jokes in this show falls flat. A lot of it feels forced.

Yet this show had a great ending.

Why? Because it took a risk.

Bean saved her mother, instead of Elfo. Normally when a choice comes up like that, the main character makes the hard but ‘right’ choice and saves their friend, the character that the audience grew to love.

This show chooses otherwise, and I love that. I even loved that the mother is villain manipulating her daughter to the ‘dark side’. It’s very fresh, and new, and different in all the right ways. It’s just a shame it took the whole show to get there.

I look forward to the next season, just please keep up the momentum, don’t stall and become just ‘okay’ again.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

I didn’t enjoy this film. There, I said it.

It’s far too slow, it doesn’t really go anywhere and Nazis appear randomly at the end. That probably sounds funny, depending on your sense of humour. At least, it’s supposed to be. Noir and Comedy are rarely two genres that cross paths. Yet that’s the very crux of this film.

Steve Martin plays Rigby Reardonm whose very motto is to stay away from women. He can screw them, but heaven forbid he cares for one. Then walks in Juliet Forrest (played by Rachel Ward), a beautiful woman that happens to faint in their first meeting.

Rigby catches her, but don’t mistake him for a gentleman, he is anything but. Kissing a woman whilst she’s unconscious is hardly romantic, but this film plays it off as a gag.

Everything is too serious in this film. They try to be funny, but without ever winking at the camera. The plot is a mess, jumping from one story to the next. Rigby gets shot several times, only to have Juliet pull a bullet out with her teeth like some sort of magician.

This happens several times throughout the film. Rigby gets drugged by women, several times as well. The romantic aspect is stale. There is very little truly exciting that ever gets this film going. Even the climax is underwhelming, with a halfhearted chase scene.

Only thing that saves this film is the way they integrate a whole bunch of older films throughout its run. It cuts back and forth between actors that today are long since dead in an interesting and sometimes funny way. I get the feeling if you’ve seen all those other older films, this one might be funnier. Without those references, it’s hard to say. I haven’t watched the majority of those 1940s and 50s films shown to know.

I think it’s an interesting gimmick that this film does, but it’s too bad it isn’t enough.

The thing is, Steve Martin is a good actor and in other roles, has been very funny. Just not in this film.

This is one you can miss, it’s stale, and with a barely noteworthy trick.

Atomic Blonde Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has pacing issues. The thriller aspect lack intrigue and explains so little that it isn’t always clear who’s on whose side. That wouldn’t be a problem if was well written and not boring during the slow moments. But it was and as a result became a bit confusing. Especially since you’re not always sure why everyone is dying for the list to begin with.

They say it has important information that will prolong the cold war, but you have no idea why that is. So it leaves the struggle for it rather lacklustre.

It’s a good thing that this isn’t the only aspect of the film otherwise it’d be incredibly dull.

The action saves this film. It’s face paced, brilliantly choreographed and shot very well. It’s a thrill to watch and keeps you on your toes. The fights are unrealistic, but if you wanted that you wouldn’t be watching this film. They’re also fabulously brutal. The only criticism I have is that the hits didn’t quite land. When a punch was thrown, sometimes they didn’t connect, and thus impact wasn’t felt.

It’s a small complaint, but I think it would’ve made the action that much more hard to watch; and all the more exciting.

I also liked that Lorraine (played by Charlize Theron) was properly bruised up. It made her feel real and that much more of a badass. Also her outfits were great, very stylish.

Charlize Theron also did some nice acting, very believable as cool heroine with a gun.

The ending was the one bit of strong writing in the whole film. When all the plot threads come together very neatly with some great plot twists.

The music was good and very 80s; however I felt like this film wasn’t as much of a time piece as it tried to be. People’s hair were too normal and the fashion was too toned down for that time period.

It’s also just a good looking film, with thoughtful composition and great lighting choices.

Overall this was a fun and intriguing movie. It’s ashame that it had those pacing issues, because it was very close to being better than it was. I liked it, and it’s a recommendation from me.

A Star Is Born (1954) Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

There are three different versions of this film, soon to be four by next year. I think that’s interesting given the heavy nature of this picture. A Star Is Born is about a young woman that becomes a ‘somebody’, and even more so, it’s about her alcoholic husband.

Judy Garland plays Esther Blodgett, renamed as Vikki Lester. It’s what they did back then, to give you a more ‘Hollywood’ name. I find it interesting that this film in someways peels back the curtain. That the stars people idealise really are just like them, with their own flawed little lives. Norman Maine, her husband, is a drunk. He tries to go clean for her, but constantly makes a fool of himself.

He knows he has a problem, yet he can’t help himself. It leads to his wife, Esther, to wither. He inspired her to be a star, to really appreciate and share her talent, yet without him it isn’t worth anything to her.

It’s when he realises that he’s ruining her life as well as his own that he takes his life. The thing is, in this film we see him cry. I think that’s really interesting, because films now rarely show that. It also was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

A Street Car Named Desire had a man wailing with raw emotion.

I find this fascinating, because I rarely find modern Hollywood films trying to hit these types of heavy emotions. Films like that are still being made, but you have to look elsewhere to find them and I think that’s ashame. Because these films are really trying to be about something, and they were mainstream.

They weren’t indie darling, these were intended for general audiences. I wonder why Hollywood doesn’t trust the average cinema goer with this type of art any more?

A Star is Born is flawed. It has too much time spent away from the main plot, making the pace inconsistent and the film far too long. There are parts that are just a bit boring. Yet Judy Garland acts splendidly in this film and sings beautifully with some real stand out songs. The Man That Got Away is a particular highlight.

You also believe their relationship. They really did fall in love and it shows. He worked hard to make her a star. She worked just as hard to save him…but some people can’t be.

When she’s grief stricken and still able to march on. You feel it.

Life is hard, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on your knees when it tries to cut you down.

I enjoyed this film, it isn’t the best of that era, All About Eve is better. Regardless this is still a good film, it’s just not perfect.