I once again find myself late to the watercooler party in finally getting around to watching the sequel to Marvel’s Avengers. When the Whedon directed Age of Ultron made its debut some four months ago, it created no small amount of controversy among the impassioned internet masses. Despite making more money than God, AoU had a decidedly more mixed reception from fans for reasons ranging from odd character choices to continuity errors and straight up plot holes. Having waited until the proverbial shitstorm died down to take a look myself, I’m rather glad I did. I can definitely empathize with some of the issues my fellow nerds had with the movie, but on the whole, I still liked it quite a bit: enough, in fact, to consider it on par with the original.
The preceding statement is by no means a declaration of worship towards the movie, though. I consider AoU as good of a summer superhero blockbuster as the first; enjoyable through its fantastic action scenes, interspersed with Whedon’s as-always entertaining dialogue to add humanity to even the least human characters while we wait for them to begin smashing stuff again. That being said, the characterization is uneven in its quality, and at times perplexing as to why the director decided to take a particular direction. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s get some background and take a look at some of AoU’s strengths while I set up the ol’ cinematic dissection table.Continue reading →
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Earth to Echo is not a movie I’d call original by any stretch. It heavily borrows from the same ET model that Super 8 a few years back, but in my opinion does a better job with it by focusing less on spectacle and more on the character relationships.
The movie stars three friends: Munch, Alex, and Tuck, who’s families are being forced to move when a freeway is set to built going through their neighborhood. On their last night together, the three decide to ride out into the night to investigate a strange electrical disturbance messing with the phones of everyone in the area.
The signal turns out to originate from a crashed alien pod containing a small, robotic extraterrestrial that the kids nickname ‘Echo’, for his ability to mimic and manipulate sound. From there, the story revolves around the trio, joined eventually by a fellow classmate from their school named Emma, helping Echo track down the pieces of his ship so that he can return home. However, as you might expect from the E.T. template, there are others in search of Echo, looking to capture him and disable his ship.
I feel bad for how long it took me to play SoT. Both because of the fact that it is a game that a friend lent to me, and because of how well-crafted it was once I got a chance to really dig into the mechanics. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, published by Ubisoft, and written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves, South Park: The Stick of Truth is both everything a South Park fan would hope for from a video game adaptation, while also being a better turn-based RPG than many a “serious” effort in the genre.
In SoT you play as a new kid in South Park; a character created from the ground up. You’re immediately thrust into a bloody D&D-style LARP war between the factions of the Humans (led by Cartman) and the Drow Elves (led by Kyle), as they battle for control of the Stick of Truth. Who so ever holds the Stick, controls the universe (gets to decide the rules of the game).
Edge of Tomorrow is my favorite kind of sci-fi movie. An ambitious conceit, well-executed, with subtle but effective philosophical commentary, and yet not afraid to blow shit up REAL GOOD. Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, an army man in title alone. A former advertising mogul, he finds incredible prestige through using his sales skills to recruit millions of soldiers for the war against the Mimics, a vicious alien invader that arrived via meteorite, and soon after began laying waste to the world.
Bryan Singer returns for the latest installment of the popular franchise, and it results in easily the strongest of any non-Disney Marvel Film to-date in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Based off of the seminal comic run by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin, the film starts in a bleak future where super-adaptable robots called Sentinels have pushed both mutants and humans to the brink of extinction. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen reprise their roles as Professor X and Magneto, using the powers of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to send the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to stop this apocalypse from happening.
Back in 1973, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinated scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), designer of the Sentinels, in an attempt to stop their production. However, the opposite occurred, with his death convincing the government that they needed the Sentinels to combat the mutant “threat”, they used Mystique’s DNA to bio-engineer the Sentinels’ capacity to adapt and nullify any mutant power. To stop this from happening, Wolverine must bring together the younger Magneto and Xavier (Michael Fassbender and James MacAvoy) and stop Mystique from beginning down the dark path to their mutual destruction.
I’ve often felt that Mark Millar’s greatest strength and his greatest weakness is his ability to so perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to experience comics with the enthusiasm of wide-eyed youth. He perfectly summarizes the intimacy that so many young readers have with their inked, twelve-panel gods, expressing the incomparable impact of their adventures upon budding minds within comics such as 1985. The second side to that double-edged sword is that his ambitions often catapult otherwise clever satire into the absurd, juvenile, and occasionally pants-on-head stupid choices in his stories.
Series like Witch Doctor are why Image Comics has been running on all cylinders for coming up on two years now. Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner’s Lovercraftian Horror-cum-medical drama is every bit as funny, inventive, and engrossing in the second trade as it was in the first. For those unfamiliar, Witch Doctor stars supernatural physician Vincent Morrow, former army paramedic Eric Gast, and anaethesiologist/demonic killing machine Penny Dreadful, as they treat possessions, curses, and demonic rituals with the same medical methodology that Gregory House treats biological illness. To Morrow and his assistants, they represent a sickness caused by pathologies (represented by the ghosts and ghoulies we all know and love) assaulting or feeding off of a person’s spiritual immune system, better known as their soul.
Despite having a relatively impoverished upbringing insofar as video games are concerned (especially considering that I grew up in the 90s, I have plenty of love in my heart for many of the characters and games referenced throughout Disney’s latest cinematic endeavour. A lot of love was put into the call-outs which are placed within the film, but what most impressed me is how Wreck-It Ralph manages to develop beyond the flash and showmanship of nostalgia, weaving a heartfelt story about accepting your own identity, and the human desire to be accepted and loved.