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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

GotG_Vol2_poster.jpgWith the success of its 2014 predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a tough act to follow. Did they do enough to reach the stars, or did it get swallowed up in a black hole?

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tensions are high as the Guardians begin to unravel the mystery of Peter’s parental past with friends and foes both old and new.

While they do somewhat recap the last film in bits here and there, to get the best experience you need to have seen the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  The only reason I’m mentioning this is because I went with my family and my dad kept asking me to explain stuff during the film.

While there is a lot of fast-paced action scenes, the focus of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is on the characters. In particular, Yondu and Nebula who are second tier characters in the first film get their time to shine here. We learn more about the Guardians and their backgrounds and see a more vulnerable side to Rocket and Gamora.

3o7budMRwZvNGJ3pyEWe are also introduced to Mantis, a character that I hope sticks around. I could rant about how much I adore her but that would give away major spoilers, so I will, regrettably, move on with the review instead.

There are a lot of emotional moments and I am not going to lie, I cried. I cried more times than I care to admit. That being said, I cry easily so that might just be me being a softie.

For a Disney film, there is a surprising about of sex jokes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I’m not complaining, as most of them got a laugh out of me, I just didn’t expect it. On that note, while comedy is subjective I found this film when it wasn’t making me cry, side-splittingly funny.

Personally, I loved this film and I can’t wait to see it again. If you liked the first film, you are going to love Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As always stick around for the after credits clip, because there isn’t just one extra scene this time.

 

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return Review

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Before we start, I think I should admit something. I never really watched Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In fact, before this reboot of the series, I had only seen one episode called Devil Fish on YouTube a few years back. That was it. I liked it but it didn’t make any real impact on me so I forgot about it.

When I heard about Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return I remembered the Devil Fish episode and thought to myself “Oh yeah, that was funny. I’ll check out the new one when it comes out”.

So while a collection of the original series is available on Netflix, at the time of writing I have only seen this version, but I might watch it later on.

For that reason, I’m going to judge Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return solely on its own merits and not compare it to its predecessor. On top of that, as someone who had only seen one of the old episodes, consider this an outsiders opinion and review.

mst3k-netflix-e1-openingOk, now that’s out of the way, why the hell did I not watch this series sooner?

Pop culture references? Check. Meta humour? Check. Likeable if not lovable robots and human host? Check.

If I had to sum this show up in one word, it would be charming. Everyone in this show, even the so-called villains are oddly charming in their own way, which makes the show a joy to watch.

While comedy is subjective, I personally enjoy Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return‘s sense of humour. If you enjoy sarcasm and fourth wall jokes, then you are going do have a good time with this show.

I thought that the show was simply going to be Johan and the bots mocking cheesy films, but there is something of a running plot line near the end of the season. I won’t spoil it for you, but I didn’t see it coming.

tumblr_ona5naR1PL1v1zngbo1_540To be honest, there is one thing about this show that I dislike, the ad breaks. This season was made for Netflix, so I don’t understand why there are so many ad breaks. It ruins the flow of the show for me. The only reason I can see for this is that it is a reference to the original. However, this is a personal issue, don’t hold it against Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a silly but fun show to binge then might I suggest Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return. Oozing with charm and wit, it’s 90 minutes of good old fashioned laughs. I highly recommend it.

 

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Oxenfree Review (PS4)

Oxenfree-posterYes, I know that I am late to the party (AGAIN) but hush!

Until the 22nd of this month, the Playstation Store is having a sale called ‘totally digital’ with several games being reduced in price up to 60%. Oxenfree is one of the games included in the sale. I had been interested in this title for a while, but, as I have stated before, my laptop can barely run any game that isn’t 8-bit. So I was chuffed when I saw this game going for £5.79.

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of teens who’s island party takes a disturbing turn. You play as Alex as she tries to navigate through this nightmare. Your only tool is a radio, and time is running out.

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but with most thriller games I often see the twists and turns coming a mile away. That is not the case with Oxenfree, though. The game keeps most of the details vague until late in the game, you get hints here and there Oxenfree doesn’t show its full hand imminently.

oxenfreeposter3In terms of gameplay, Oxenfree is a very linear game with a lot of dialogue options, watch what you say, as your way with words will decide which ending you will get. This gives the game a decent replayability factor.

Without giving anything away, I was pleasantly surprised by Oxenfree. The tricky thing about thrillers is that you need to give the audience, or in this case the player, enough information to know what is going on but not enough to spoil any upcoming twists. Oxenfree pulls off this balancing act perfectly.

I don’t normally talk about music when I review games, but I’ll make an exception for Oxenfree. The music is haunting with its use of synths and melodies. It sounds like it doesn’t come from this world, which ties in expertly with the story of the game. SCNTFC, you are a genius! Even if you don’t play this game, at the very least listen to the soundtrack.

Overall, Oxenfree was an otherworldly experience that I am glad I played. It is a suspenseful thriller with elements of supernatural horror. That said, it has a lot of heart and there are a few funny moments here and there. If you are looking for a unique game with an engaging story then I recommend tuning into Oxenfree.

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A Silent Voice Review

shgdAs part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, A Silent Voice had a screening at the GFT and the film’s Director, Naoko Yamada ( K-On!, Tamako Market), held a Q&A after the film.

A Silent Voice follows Shoya Ishida, who used to bully the deaf Shoko Nishimiya mercilessly as a young child. Years later, he tries to redeem himself and make amends for the pain he inflicted on her. Will he be able to heal the damage he has done, or make the suffering worse?

Going into this film, I was worried that Shoya would be an unlikeable character, and to an extent he was. As a child, you hate him for the nasty things he does to the new girl but quickly learn that the older Shoya is a different person entirely. You see him suffer for his actions and believe his intentions are genuine when he tries to make amends. He is hardly perfect, but that is what makes him relatable.

80136.jpgI can’t really say much about Shoko and the other characters in this film without giving away spoilers. Considering that the focus of this film is the characters and the emotional experiences they go through, it is best to know as little as possible going into this film. What I will say is that Tomohiro Nagatsuka is my favourite character as well as the one I personally relate to the most.

This has to be one of the most emotional films I have seen in a while and seeing it with a large audience really added to the experience. The room was filled with laughter at some scenes and you could hear people choking back tears in others. The tension near the end of the film was palpable.

As I mentioned, there was a small Q&A session with Yamada. I was lucky and got to ask her my question. I asked her if there was a scene from the film that made her cry during the film’s development and thanked her for making such an amazing film. She thanked me and said that moments with Shoya’s mum made her tear up. I can’t say  I blame her.

I loved A Silent Voice. It was an emotional rollercoaster that I won’t forget in a hurry. It doesn’t sugarcoat bullying nor the damage it does. In fact, it shows not only what happens to the victim, but how it can come around and hurt the bully as well as the others involved in the situation. With well written characters with a story that will move anyone, I highly recommend A Silent Voice.

 

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Beware the Slenderman Review

beware_the_slenderman_posterBeware the Slenderman is HBOs latest documentary that documents the aftermath of two 12-year-old girls stabbing a friend 19 times to please Slenderman. It also looks into the mythos of Slenderman and how it became viral in the first place.

The majority of Beware the Slenderman is about the families of the two girls who committed the crime. They talked about their daughter’s childhoods and the effect this situation has had on them and their family.

It was an interesting angle to take, I can’t imagine what a situation like this would do to a family. However, the way it was shot made me apprehensive. The documentary seems like it is trying to make you feel bad for these girls as if they were the real victims of the crime.

In case you were wondering, no they don’t interview the young girl who got stabbed nor her parents. I would have liked to know their opinions on the matter, but considering the situation I respect their decision to decline the interviews. While Payton “Bella” Leutner has recovered physically, she is still traumatised by the event which isn’t surprising. I wish her the best.

sub-buzz-28608-1478101365-1The court decided that the pair would be tried as adults, which means they could be sentenced to 60 years in prison. According to Beware the Slenderman, their lawyers have appealed to try again to move the case into the juvenile court which would mean their sentence will be much shorter. This will be decided later this year.

As I said earlier, also discusses how and why Slenderman became the viral sensation we know. This is the part that I enjoyed the most. While it has since died down, the Slenderman mania was rampant online for a couple of years. In my opinion, this is the best part of Beware the Slenderman. They interview several different people in this segment, one of which was Richard Dawkins.I wasn’t expecting him to be in this, thank you for the pleasant surprise!

Overall, Beware the Slenderman is an alright documentary. I think I had my expectations way too high. It is certainly worth watching, but it isn’t something that you should go out of your way to see. I’m glad I watched it, but I’m not pressing play again anytime soon.

 

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Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Review

batman-return-of-the-caped-crusaders-2016-movie-posterHoly 60s camp classic, Batman!

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. The joke is a meme at this point, just let me have this one. Let’s talk about this film, shall we?

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is the latest animated DC movie. While DCs live action movies aren’t doing so well at the moment, they are pumping out some awesome animated ones! If you feel let down by Suicide Squad, watch Assault on Arkham. You will love it.

Right off the bat (HA!) I have to admit that I had really high expectations for this film. Not only have the other animated DC films been really good, but I love the 60s Batman live action show. So, did this film meet my expectations?

Eh.

batman.pngDon’t get me wrong. This is a good film, but I guess I got caught up in the hype. I think part of the appeal of the 60s live action show is that they looked and acted like cartoon characters, like the Princess Bride.

Frankly, you can tell whether or not you will like this film within the first five minutes. If you don’t can’t stand the cheese then get out of the dairy aisle. If you have seen the original series, you pretty much know what is going to happen.

Maybe this is just me, but the main storyline they took (which I can’t talk about, spoilers) is one of my most hated cliches in any media. That one element is what dampened my experience for this film. I know it sounds petty, but I have to be honest. That is just my personal gripe with Return of the Caped Crusaders. It really bugs me, even more, when I realise just how much I love everything else about this movie!

batman1The animation is so fluid and colourful with smooth lines. The sound design is great and oh my god, the references! They even reference the three women who have played Catwoman over the years! I laughed so hard at that scene.I love cheese, so the alliteration and BatPSAs were a joy to watch. Oh boy, the fight scenes are my favourite parts, the camp levels are over 9,000.

Also, getting to hear Adam West as Batman just made me so happy. Burt Ward as Robin was also great to hear. The award for MVP has to go to Julie Newmar as Catwoman, she steals the show every time she stars in a scene.

batIt is pretty obvious this movie was made for long time fans. If you didn’t like the TV series, you are going to hate this. Otherwise, you will get a kick out of Return of the Caped Crusaders. I failed to mention this, but all the characters made the translation from live action to animation flawlessly, even the ones who were not voiced by their original actors which is pretty impressive.

The only issue I have is the story, which in fairness is a matter of personal taste rather than a glaring problem. Again, I get how stupid it must sound but this type of storyline really gets under my skin.

In fact, A sequel is in the works, with William Shatner starting as Two-Face. Yes! Oh God, sign me up! That sounds perfect to me. Think about it, it makes perfect sense. Apparently, it will be released in 2017. While this film let me down a little, I am looking forward to this sequal.

I do recommend this film, I just prefer Assault on Arkham.

 

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New Obsession: Pokémon Moon

703a7d6714f94e9ab386e36f0f08935cIt is finally here! After the long wait, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are finally available in the UK! It’s times like this I hate living in Scotland, we get anime and video games way later than the US. It really blows.

As you might have guessed from the title of this ramble, I chose Moon. I picked up my copy on the release date, and have been playing it non-stop since.

Side note, If you don’t know both games play in real time but in Moon, time is reversed. If you play during the day, it is night in the game and vice versa. It makes no sense to me at all.

I am going to be honest, I suspect some of my fondness for this game is because of my rose-tinted nostalgia goggles. Pokémon was one of the first real video games I ever played, so this franchise is near and dear to my heart. Heck, I still play Pokémon GO!

All jokes aside, Pokémon Moon is exactly what I wanted. A simple but fun game with cute creatures, likeable characters and  dripping with charm.

08d567f3c2bdcbcc808ae2ee6a185c7bea5daafc_hqFor the record, I chose Litten as my starter. I have heard people online saying that its final evolution is stupid. I disagree, I think it looks kinda cool, a tad silly but I like it.

Speaking of silly, what is the deal with Team Skull?  In previous games, the antagonistic teams tend to have at least some degree of intimidation. Team Skull? Not a trace, at least with the grunts. I haven’t gotten to any of the higher ups yet. To be fair, they do make me laugh.

Normally I don’t care for the rivals in Pokémon games, Hau is an exception. He is a wee ray of sunshine. I want to cuddle that cutie! Lillie and the Professor are fine, but Hau and his grandfather steal the show when they show up. Hau’s enthusiasm is contagious, I swear.

The best new addition to the mechanics of the game has to be the ability to care for your pokémon after every battle, called Pokémon refresh. You could do this in previous games, sure. However now it serves a better purpose in the game. Instead of just improving the bond between you and your buddies, grooming them heals things like paralysis. You don’t need to do this, but it is nice that the game gives you the option.

tumblr_o85cvd8stx1qaywrho1_500I love the Hawaii-inspired setting. It makes a lot of sense in terms of the story. In other Pokémon games, I found it weird that the protagonist doesn’t know the basics of pokémon training despite growing up with them, and that they need to be told what to do. However, since the protagonist has moved to a new country, it makes a lot of sense. Not to mention that the new designs for the pokémon centres and some pokémon help keep the series fresh.

I can not put this game down. Admittedly I spend more time goofing around in the game rather that continuing the story. If you haven’t picked up your copy, what are you waiting for! Get it now!