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Written by Gregg Dietz
I’ve been playing the Super Smash Bros. series since its debut on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999. The next iteration was the one I played the most, Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube in 2001. The next was the Wii addition titled Super Smash Bros Brawl. The franchise has been a huge success both in North America and Japan so it only makes sense that they would continue. In 2011, Nintendo announced that not only would Super Smash Bros. be coming to the Wii U but also the 3DS. This would be the first time a Smash game was available for a handheld device. It has been a smashing success so far.
The game boasts a lot of things to do, on the main menu you will see a myriad of options. Smash is the central part of the game. Online is pretty self explanatory. Smash Run is a fun minigame type thing where up to 4 players must fight enemies and find boosts to make their character stronger for the next phase. That phase is a showdown that can be different each time; fighting, racing, target smashing, and a few more. The next option is in the Games & More tab. There you will find Classic, All-star and Stadium. Classic is the path to fight master hand, All-star is where you must go through 7 waves of enemies, and Stadium is where you will find a series of minigames.
This is why I love this game, I was never bored. With 37 starting playable characters and 12 more to unlock, there is never a dull moment. I chose to beat every mode with every character on easy. That took me hours upon hours to complete. Because it was with a different character each time, granted there are a few clone characters, I was always learning a new move set. The thing about this new version is you can have Mii Fighters. The customization for this was astounding to me. Everything you do goes towards making these Mii Fighters better and better. There are 3 styles to choose from, Brawler, Swordfighter, and Shooter. Each has the ability to customize their specials as well and that makes for a huge number of unique characters.
Speaking of customization, you are able to customize just about everything in this game. From controls to music to levels, the game gives you complete control of how you want to play. I’m not huge into the competitive fighting game community but the fact that there is a option to have final destination type maps only is amazing. The standard characters can even be customized and the option to have them with different specials and colors. The way to get these is by playing classic and landing the roulette wheel correctly. You can also unlock these by completing challenges. These were concentrated on pretty intensely for a majority of my play time due to them being...well...challenging.
I do have a few gripes, regardless of how much fun I had. I could only play the game for short periods at a time to take breaks. The shape and contour of the 3DS is not conducive to your hands and gave me cramps constantly. This is not necessarily Smash’s fault but it is Nintendo’s doing so I feel it goes hand-in-hand. The other gripe I have is with the loot system. There are challenges that require you get a certain amount of specific items for the Mii Fighters. What makes this so difficult is there is no place to farm for these. Every time you play classic mode, you are given a roulette as stated above. There are 3 things it can land on, coins, trophies, or items. The items range from character specials, Mii fighter outfits, hats and specials. This margin for RNG is too big and can make grinding an annoying experience, especially when you can get the same item multiple times.
Overall I love this game, I can’t praise it enough. With hours upon hours of content, i was never wondering what to do next. I still have stuff to do in the game but I must move on to other titles and await the Wii U version. If you have a 3DS and are a fan of the originals, I highly recommend this title. If you are concerned with the cramping and are awaiting the Wii U version, that's understandable due to it being a real issue I dealt with. I give Super Smash Bros. for 3DS a 9.5 outta 10.
Which version are you planning on getting? What are your thoughts on the 4th Super Smash Bros.? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan Page, or tweet us @MissionStartP or tweet Gregg @ChubRockGeek
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Written by Gregg Dietz
It’s rare these days that we are treated to a crossover event the likes of The Flintstones meets The Jetsons. The Phoenix Wright series was first released in North America in 2001 to favorable reviews. Professor Layton and The Curious Village released in North America in 2008 to critical acclaim. Both series require critical thinking but in different ways. That’s why it’s such a perfect pairing. My history with either series is varied as I have not played a lot in either series. I have played the first in both and thats why I was very interested in this game.
The gameplay is a mix of both franchises strengths. Professor Layton games are all about the puzzles and there are a large assortment of them here. A lot of the puzzles are easy, or that the hints you can ask for give away the solution. I thoroughly enjoyed the level of difficulty though because it allowed me to advance and enjoy the story. Phoenix Wright games are most famous for the courtroom sections and that’s the only part of that series that makes it in the game.
In the full Phoenix Wright games, you are tasked with finding clues and evidence to help you in the court hearings. This is not the case since you are given everything you need in the court sections. I actually enjoyed this because it allowed me to just concentrate on what was happening instead of wondering if I missed a piece of evidence that could make things less frustrating. The court has a new gameplay element with having multiple witnesses on the stand at once. What this allows is when you press one witness and further their testimony, another witness will notice a contradiction and make an audible sound to notify you. Granted this is not difficult and in certain instances, makes things easier, it’s a lot of fun to build a better picture for what happened.
The story is interesting in terms of how they had these 2 franchises come together. This is a little bit of a spoiler but not towards the ending. A young woman named Espella comes to Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke Triton for help and accidentally transports them to the medieval storybook town of Labyrinthia. As for Phoenix Wright’s involvement, he is tasked with finding Espella innocent for the crime of assault and theft. After the trial, the same book that transported Layton and Luke was left behind at the courthouse and thus transported Phoenix and his assistant Maya Fey. The game is centered around the idea of “what if you threw these characters in a magical medieval setting?” Having everyone try to use logic in a magic setting made for an interesting experience.
It takes a good long while for the 2 pairs to meet but when they do, the serious nature of the Layton games and the quirky comedy of the Phoenix games mixes surprisingly well. Luke and Maya get along very well and it’s quite interesting when you take the characters and separate them. Phoenix and Luke together are funny when Luke basically calls out Phoenix for being stupid but in an unintentional way. While Layton and Maya are together their dynamic is different, Layton is more of a teacher. They interact very well together and supplement each other in surprisingly complex ways.
This leads me to the cast of unique characters. You have your Layton characters who are very serious and are not at all intended to me funny, then you have your comedy characters who are directly like the ones from Phoenix games. These characters are spaced and spread out enough to not feel strange. They mix well and when you have to interact with them, you feel like they belong in the story and not just added for length.
This leads me to the writing for each line of dialog. This game is part visual novel in that 95% of it requires you reading it. There are moments of voice acting spaced out in critical moments throughout the game. I would have liked more but the moments where you get voices are a pleasant surprise. Especially since this is first time I’ve heard Phoenix speak more words than “OBJECTION!” or “HOLD IT!”. There are also fully animated moments that are so much fun to watch but also incredibly short. It leads me to believe that there could be a fully imagined anime in either series. Upon further research, the studio Bones are the ones responsible for the animated sequences. People may know their work from such titles as Wolf's Rain, Soul Eater, Fullmetal Alchemist : Original and Brotherhood, and Space Dandy.
I have a few gripes with the game. Firstly, some of the dialog was brain numbingly long when it didn’t need to be. Talking to a character when there is no story based reason and you end up spending 5 to 10 minutes speaking with them only to be left with no new information is very annoying. Secondly, I realize that there needs to be character building moments but my bet is that people didn't get this game to watch and discover new characters. They got this game to have fun watching 2 franchises that they know well enough clash together. Having well known characters go off and do what could be considered a side quest was incredibly boring. And Lastly, the ending...oh boy. the ending. This ending is long, or at least if feels as such. Everytime you think credits are going to roll, they don’t and it’s more character resolution. It was as if each person had a point they wanted to make and damn those credits. It took me almost 31 hours to complete the game and by the time everything was said and done, I had to watch a 30 minute ending. It just left a sour taste in my mouth.
My overall opinion of the game is that it’s a lot fun. You have a lot of puzzles that aren’t too difficult and the court hearings are funny and relatively easy. A story that’s intriguing to the very end and a cast of wonderful characters both whimsical and unique. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend you check this one out. I give Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney an 8 outta 10.
What did you think of the game? Are you planning on getting this title? What series do you enjoy more? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan Page, or tweet at us @MissionStartP
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I remember the first time I saw the trailer for the first Sin City in all of it's stylish, comic-accurate glory. The cinematography was a gorgeous contrast of black and white, the stories took film noir to a deliciously gritty extreme, and everything about this film felt like a labor of love by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. This movie came out at a time where comic books were slowly crawling back to the silver screen, but still weren't taken as seriously as they would be today. Back then Sin City stood out as an uncompromising cult hit for comic fans and would make Frank Miller a household name, with fans eagerly waiting to see how a sequel would turn out.
It's 9 years later, and a LOT has happened since then: Frank Miller's writing became critically panned, Batman became a dominant force for DC, and the rise of Marvel Studios made its comic movie adaptations more popular than ever before. The world of cinema has changed, and it seems that Sin City: A Dame To Kill For might just be a product of a bygone era.
Like its predecessor, A Dame To Kill For isn't so much one big narrative, but rather a collection of four short stories that paint the atmosphere of the infamous Sin City. Three of them are direct adaptations of the comics while the last one is an original sequel penned by Frank Miller himself. Old favorites like Gail (Rosario Dawson) and Marv (Mickey Rourke) return to the screen, a couple of recasts show up like Dwight (Josh Brolin), Miho (Jamie Cheung) and Manute (Dennis Haybert), and there are also newbloods in the form of Joseph Gordon Levitz as Johnny and Eva Green as Ava Lord, the titular Dame To Kill For. This film touts it's all-star ensemble for all its worth and the performances are exactly as grimy and pulpy as you expect, but special mention has to go to Eva Green's performance that's oozes charisma every minute she spends onscreen. Old fans of Sin City will be happy to see these stories faithfully recreated and may get a kick out of the new original story which explores Nancy Callahan's descent into darkness as she seeks to avenge the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis), possibly the only perfectly heroic character to ever come from this godforsaken town.
However therein lies the problem lies with A Dame To Kill For: Sin City is simply a place so dark and bleak that it soils everybody it touches. The first time around the film presented itself as a dark parody of film noir that was brutal but fun. This sequel opts to wallow in the city's corruption, showcasing the futility of justice and the death of innocence that deems this place a living hellhole. Nancy Callahan, the relatively innocent stripper in the first film, has become a psychopathic vigilante hellbent on revenge. Johnny, a charismatic slickster who's out to wound Senator Rourke's pride, gets horribly brutalized for his efforts. Even Dwight, the heroic ex-lover of Ava Lord, pulls out every dirty trick in the book only to be duped into murder. The only character that seems to come out relatively unscathed is Marv, but he's a brutish thug who lives for this stuff anyways. Any sense of decency is slowly sapped away, and all that's left are pathetic sheep who will keep marching to their own self destruction the longer they stay in Sin City. Not exactly the feeling you want to have when you leave the theater is it?
Nine years ago Sin City felt fresh for its faithfulness to the books and uncompromising grit in a time where the general public would dismiss comics as frivolous superhero affairs. But now in an age where superheroes have reached a widespread audience by being fun and likable, Sin City's vision of comics as bleak, dark world no longer holds up, and it doesn't help that Frank Miller's misogynistic, borderline racist writing can turn off more people then it draws in. Even though this film has plenty of action and violence, it all feels less viscerally thrilling and more like an uncomfortable exercise in making the audience cringe. The cinematography is still just as stylish and gorgeous to look at as the first film, but scratch the surface and you'll be getting a heaping helping of nihilism at its worst.
For the hardcore Frank Miller fans, A Dame To Kill For will hit the spot. For everyone else, it's probably best to wait for the DVD.
- Review by Richard (Rikun) Jao
Written by Gregg Dietz
This is the second issue in a series though Scattered comics. The title aptly named Hybrid Earth refers to the synopsis, “In December of 2015 the nano-bomb was created, fusing nuclear and nano technology together. The first, and last bomb, was detonated into Earth’s atmosphere. When the irradiated nanomachines came back down, they merged humans with machines.” Written by Rustin Petrae and Co-Written & Artwork by Frederick Allison Jr, they come in with a level of expertise that rivals some of the veterans of the most popular comics. As a note though, I’ve not read issue #1, this review is solely based on issue #2.
I’d like to start with the characters, The main protagonist is Xander Hastings. He works for the Hybrid Enforcement Agency and is a no frills cop who plays by his own rules as long as it gets results. I really enjoyed this guy, he was cocky but rightly so. Many times I was expecting a depressed cop on the edge but instead, he’s a guy who does his job while having fun doing it, also he really enjoys hamburgers.
The next person we meet is Cameron Abbott, she is the sister of Willa, who was featured in the first issue I’m assuming because Xander references getting his ass kicked by her. She’s a scientist and here’s where the writing gets very clever. During Xander’s visit to her house, the antagonist of the issue shows up, he starts firing on them, Xander then shoots him in the chest, due to him not being human, he stands back up. Between him getting laid out and getting back up, Cameron starts asking a myriad of questions that create a very clear idea of who she is. The reader is instantly understanding of Cameron and that is something that I tip my proverbial hat to.
The story arch through the issue is actually quite simple, and thats great. Rustin and Frederick do an amazing job building a world around these characters without leaving them behind. Story should never be about the world, it should be about the characters and I never felt that it was about anything else directly. I love the idea of a storm that creates hybrid man/machine people. This will allow the comic to go on indefinitely. As with any good story, there is a main story arch, which this has. Xander’s job is to find out what is causing these green-eyed maniacs to be causing havok. However the promise of more villains down the line makes this so much more.
The art style is definitely up my alley. I love the sketched lines with color. It gives the world a gritty feel while also letting the reader know it’s going to be fun. Frederick has a unique way of allowing the reader to study faces that are showing emotion but also still having that feel that makes it his style. Another thing that a lot of artist strive for in comics that I personally feel have a strong tendency to fall flat, are action shots that stay within the realm of physics. Frederick not only makes sure that all the characters have weight, but also how the clothes and hair would move in that exact moment. This allows the reader to feel invested in reality and closer to the world.
My gripes are basically nitpicks, but this is a good thing because it means the comic was great. There are a few moments of dialog that took me out of the story for a moment. These lines mainly come from Xander. There aren’t many of these but I just felt that they were out of place for the situation that was happening.
My overall opinion on the issue is thats its wonderful. I want to continue the story and go back and read issue #1. The ideas that are implemented through character design and world buliding are so fantastic that I anticipate where it will go. I highly recommend checking this one out. I give Hybrid Earth #2 a 9 outta 10.
If you are interested in picking this comic up for yourself, click here.
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Written By Gregg Dietz
Seconds is the eighth graphic novel from the Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O’Malley. The plot involves a young woman named Katie who feels her life has been stuck in rut for a while. She’s been working at the restaurant “Seconds” for many years now and it has become less than fulfilling. Her life takes an interesting turn when she is woken up one night by a mysterious girl named Lis who offers her a fix to her problems. I was quite excited to get my hands on Seconds because I am a big fan of the Scott Pilgrim series. I was wondering if it would be too similar to Scott Pilgrim or a fun departure from that style. It has a very unique feel and I was pleasantly surprised.
The art style is wonderful, I’ve always been a fan of how O’Malley illustrates situations with emotion not found in a lot of other graphic novels. He has a way of making backgrounds and sets feel alive while also telling a story through those images. He really enjoys showing unique angles with clever reasoning. Nothing is on page for fluff, it all has a reason. There are moments in the comic that are very confusing, intentionally. For the clever reader, you will notice several hints at what is actually going on and call out what is happening. That is not a gripe, that is a major compliment, because it made the story more interactive.
Speaking of the story, I loved it to its wonderful conclusion. Every turn was a fun mystery that made me want to continue reading. The way he tells the story as an unfolding mystery from the eyes of the protagonist is what needs to happen in stories. The fact that you are figuring it out alongside her makes that connection even stronger. Katie is a very relatable character being that we’ve all felt stuck looking for a easy solution. Her journey is a fictional tale of what all late 20 somethings go through. That’s what really was so appreciative about it for me. I could easily see myself in her life and wanting her fantastic solution.
My gripes are few and far inbetween. Most of these are about how Bryan tries to casually add people who are repressed in our society into roles of non-exclusivity. It just comes off as too forced and not as casual as Wallace or other characters from his other works. As I stated before, the story structure can get very confusing and unfortunately, this can turn some away. I was fortunate enough to be invested enough to power through. The level needed for suspension of disbelief is pretty high in certain parts of the book.
My overall feelings on the graphic novel are that it is something you need to experience if you are a fan of Scott Pilgrim. Between the art and story, you will be enthralled from beginning to finish. Just be prepared for the supernatural. I give Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley an 8.5 outta 10.
What did you think of the book? Are you planning on getting the graphic novel now? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan Page or on Twitter @MissionStartP.
You can find Gregg in his other projects on this very website and YouTube with his Let’s Play series titled Guerilla Gaming.
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So here we are. The movie that has been both anticipated and dreaded by young and old fans of our favorite heroes in the half shell. Some were optimistic, others were repulsed, and nobody can deny it's been surrounded by controversy ever since we knew that Michael Bay was producing it. As a longtime Turtles fan I felt very conflicted about what could happen here: on the one hand it had potential to be good, but on the other hand the red flags were just too numerous to count. So after all this buildup, what's the final verdict in this writer's eyes?
In short, plenty of potential but ultimately generic.
This is not the worst Nickelodeon produced movie adaptation ever made (that would be Last Airbender), nor is it really the worst Ninja Turtles movie ever made (TMNT III is still much worse), but there's a lot about this movie that just feels so run-of-the-mill cookie cutter you can't help but think that those behind the scenes only had a passing acquaintance with the franchise. Yes the action scenes are cool and yes the CGI Turtles are going to wow the kids who are no doubt going to love it, but I seriously doubt anyone is going to remember this movie a couple years from now.
There are many critics out there who were waiting since day one to slaughter this film and deem it an utter abomination, but as I said before there is some good in this film. As ugly as their final designs look (and I'll get to that later), they are all at least in character and are entertaining to watch. The banter is likely going to win the audience, and there's an elevator scene with all the turtles that perfectly captures the spirit of the series. Mikey and Raph seem to be head to head in terms of stealing the show whether it be from Mikey's cheesy one-liners or Raph being the only turtle with an actual story arc. Plus if you're here for crazy overblown CGI action you'll be getting exactly what you paid for. Michael Bay didn't direct this, but given director Jonathan Liebesman's previous films (Battle LA and Wrath of the Titans) it's easy to see why audiences can get confused.
Unfortunately, it's everything else about the movie that manages to bring it down. The overly complex designs of the turtles have turned off many hardcore fans and scream of a design department that was trying way too hard to throw in unnecessary detail. Their scaled up size not only negates the idea of the turtles being stealthy, but also has the side effect of forcing the Shredder to use beefed up powered armor to even stand a chance against them. Granted in some scenes the whizzing detail is a sight to behold, but a lot of times it feels like there's way too much happening onscreen for viewers to keep track of. This isn't specifically a Michael Bay signature, but it's certainly prominent in any high CG action movie in this day and age. As for the Shredder himself it's a shame to see him reduced to what's essentially a one-note heavy, especially since in this version there's no personal vendetta between Splinter and Shredder that's been a trademark for every other incarnation of the series.
If there's anything that sets this adventure apart from most other adventures would be the way April O'Neil has suddenly become the center of the Turtles' existence. While she's still the plucky reporter that classic Turtle fans would recognize, this story manages to upgrade her to being indirectly responsible for saving their lives as a kid, which would allow them to mutate into the heroes they are today. To some it may feel wonky and forced, but it probably could have worked if April was portrayed as a likable, average young lady. Unfortunately this iteration comes off as more of a woman with a perpetually blank face that's reduced to a PG-13 sexual punchline. I know that Megan Fox is trying, but if only she learned how to emote more clearly.
As for the overall story, don't expect to remember much about it. Like others of its ilk, the story is less of a plot and more of a stitching of one action scene to another. Character development, if any, is either glossed over or rushed, any "deep" dialogue literally feels forced, and the climax is something that anyone who's seen the first Amazing Spider-man would recognize beat by beat. Heck, the soundtrack alone sounds like it came straight from the Transformers series when it comes to the "hero" shots of the movies. Considering how crazy and off-the-wall the premise of this series alone would offer, it's a shame to see it copy the tropes of other action movies to create a paint-by-number blockbuster designed to rake in the dough.
I write this review knowing that by the time this is published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has already hit the number 1 box office spot for its opening weekend, and as much of a Turtle fan as I am I can't help but feel disappointed in this development. I remember hearing the audience behind me clapping and cheering in the places I knew were designed to make them clap and cheer, and I could tell that the kids who saw this would later claim how awesome it is when it's mediocre at best. It's enough to pacify the kids and pre-teens, but they deserve so much more than this. The Turtles themselves deserve so much more than this as a major theatrical release. And to think that this kind of no-effort-required shilling is enough to warrant multiple sequels that will rake in money in favor of other projects that put more love and thought into its craft? Stings me harder than it should.
If you want an action-packed summer movie with cool special effects and crazy CG characters, go watch Guardians of the Galaxy. If you want a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, go watch the 1990 version. If you want a good modern take on the Ninja Turtles, just flip to Nickelodeon and watch the current CG animated series. It's only a matter of time before this movie is going to fade into TV filler and something better rolls along.
Bottom line, this film is an okay movie that's going to get much more praise and money than it really deserves. It doesn't matter that critics panned it or that the fans are outraged: it's going to print money in ways that much better movies could only dream of. If anything is right in this world, then the sequels will either genuinely try, or they'll be exposed for the cash grabs they are and shrivel into bad movie beatdown bait.
-Review by Richard (Rikun) Jao.
Written by Gregg Dietz
Scattered is a comic book series created, written and drawn by Jason Dube, about a group of supernatural teenagers that have to deal with all the tribulations of growing up. I haven’t had the opportunity to read issues 1-3 so this is merely a review on issue 4. The story follows 4 characters, Allen; cursed by his ex-girlfriend to be able to see the spirit world and has the power to summon an angel at will. Anna; a normal girl who is seemingly in love with Allen. Genesis; A girl that has been around since the birth of the earth and charts its history by painting her face. Lastly Steve; After his sister died, he went into the studies of dark and white magic to become a mage. The issues plot focuses on Steve, he's upset that Allen gets all sorts of attention and decides to do something about it.
The overall plot is pretty fun with these characters already knowing each other and having history. Seeing them interact with each other as if the reader is a third party bystander is great for story building. It was as if the world was alive and had a heartbeat. Each character feels as they would be a teenager, along with all the angst that come with it. Being awkwardly in love and dealing with that, being jealous and having to come to terms with that, it works in this supernatural setting.
The art style is quite unique. With broad edges on all the characters and colorful designs make for fun characters to look at. The style is a bit reminiscent of Jhonen Vasquez’s style with showing the angst of the characters through art design. Each character looks so different from one another that it’s easy to garner a personality from them. For example, Steve’s outfit is very much the loner type teen who has his nose in books but will emerge to do something interesting. Anna was probably the most interesting to me in terms of design because she is the one character without powers. Yet her design says everything about her
My gripes with the comic are the dialog. A lot of the interactions are so very basic and bland. This is the only thing without its own character. Each line of dialog reads as if it was being said by the same person and not as each individual. That’s not to say that this isn’t attempted with how each character feels in a given situation. It just needs to have some kind of personality for each character in each dialog bubble. I want to feel that these characters lines matter because they are each so unique. The only other critique I have is i would like to have a better sense of the surroundings of stages where characters are. Many times, I was confused as to where they were and if it mattered. Just a bit more clarity on that. Respectively though, this could all stem from this being the only issue I’ve read and it’s more established in earlier issues.
Overall its an interesting story with fun lively characters that I would like to continue to read about. If you have a pension for angsty characters that have powers and rich history, check this one out. I give this Scattered #4 a 8.5 outta 10.
Will you pick up Scattered? Are you currently reading it? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan Page or tweet us @MissionStartP. You can follow Gregg on twitter @ChubRockGeek and watch his lets play series, “Guerilla Gaming”, on the MissionStartPodcast Youtube page.
If you are interested in getting Scattered for yourself, you can buy the issue at most comic book stores, download a copy online from http://comics.drivethrustuff.com or directly from Scattered Comics at www.scatteredcomics.com
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Written by Gregg Dietz
Guardians of the Galaxy is the newest marvel film by writer director James Gunn. If you listen to the Mission Start Podcast on a regular basis, you know that I have been incredibly excited for this film for a long time. My history with The Guardians is a bit different than other Marvel movies. Back when I was reading Marvel comics as a kid, there were situations where the guardians would show up or be mentioned, however I did not read the comics involving them and they are not the team you will see in the movie. The team in the movie was created in 2008 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In 2011, the fighting game, Marvel vs Capcom 3 was released and Rocket was one of the playable characters. Needless to say, i had no idea who he was, so thanks to the internet and comics, I learned about the guardians and knew the movie was going to be good. It wasn’t till comic-con 2012 that I became increasingly excited upon learning who was going to helm the project. As the movie was closer and closer to being made, the cast announcements were making it seem like a dream. The final product was well worth the wait.
The plot is simple, The Guardians must stop Ronan the Accuser from destroying the galaxy. However, everything before and after that is what makes everything so much more than simple. The main cast of characters are as follows, Peter Quill A.K.A, Starlord, is an earthling who was taken from earth as a young boy after a traumatizing event. His 80’s cassette walk-man is his only connection to his roots and he will risk life and limb to not lose it. Gamora is the forcibly adopted daughter of Thanos, the guy you see at the end of Avengers. She wants nothing more to do with Thanos or his men and has a plan to escape. Drax the Destroyer just wants to kill Ronan because he killed his family years ago. Then there’s Rocket and Groot, they are a pair of Bounty Hunters that just want to get paid. The group finds a common thread among them and are barely a team but through that, find friendship that will be hard to extinguish. This is where the heart of the film comes in, the relationship between them is so much fun that you will have a Cheshire type grin throughout the movie.
One major component that I was in love with right away was the comedy. The movie doesn’t have a single “joke”. Instead, the comedy comes from situations that come off as natural, funny moments. Not one time did I feel like a comedic moment was forced or pushed on the audience. Some of the best lines come from Rocket who, at his core, is a character that does not work well with others. His interactions with the rest of the gang are so well written and natural feeling that you just want to have a drink with the little guy. The dramatic parts of the film don’t feel out of place next to the comedy either. There are plenty of moments of tension during the funniest scenes due to James Gunn mixing the two together expertly. The scenes in which that are dramatic and full of emotion are so palatable that you are constantly rooting for the Guardians.
The action within that drama is visually stunning. There are quite a few moments of action that are both space based and physical. Both look so good that it rivals some of the other Marvel movies by leaps and bounds. Speaking of the visual aspect, the mix of CGI and practical effects is well done to the point that none of it seems out of place. Due to the Guardians traveling to places that are full of creatures and aliens, the feeling I got from seeing Star Wars as a child and seeing the Cantina scene came rushing back. You could spend hours just pausing the movie to look at the scenery. James Gunn and company really wanted to build a believable space to go adventuring. There are two soundtracks in the film, one being the orchestra that scores some of the major action scenes much like you would see in most space action films and they are spectacular. The second soundtrack is a series of 60’s and 70’s songs that supposed to be on Peter’s cassette tape, titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1. These songs are inserted periodically throughout the movie and are a great break from all the action.
I usually have one paragraph in my reviews that I use to lament my complaints. The problem is that this movie has so few bad moments that its quite difficult to point them out and it will just sound like nitpicking but I will try because no movie is perfect. One of the the awesome mix songs that plays is a bit out of place. I would say which one or where it is, but for fear of spoilers, I wont. There are few moments towards the end of the film that feel a little forced or bizarre. In the earlier scenes of the movie, it is a bit hard to understand what some characters are saying due to semi-poor audio mixing. Again, I know all these sound like nitpicking but they are a few things I noticed during my viewing.
Overall this movie is one you need to see. Every aspect of the film comes off as a project of love from everyone involved. All the actors feel as if they know what they are doing and never stop being highly entertaining. The cameos are well placed and are not delivered in a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” situation. The soundtrack is something that other films are going to try and duplicate but fall short. The action and visuals will keep your eyes glued to the screen for the full 2 hours. The comedy will keep you laughing and stain an enormous smile on your face that will make joy tears will flow. I give Guardians of the Galaxy a 9.5 outta 10.
What did you think of the film? Did this review make you want to see the movie if you weren’t before? Leave a comment below, on our Facebook Fan Page or tweet us at @MissionStartP or tweet Gregg @ChubRockGeek.
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With summer at its peak and big budget blockbusters pouring into theaters left and right, Lucy is one of those interesting cases where the spectacle is still there but on a much smaller scale. On the one hand you have Scarlett Johannson fresh off the Marvel train as the lead, an obviously complex SFX display whenever you need it, Morgan Freeman playing a wise mentor type, and Luc Besson, director of Fifth Element and Nikita, taking the director's helm. On the other hand, this is a noticeably shorter movie at only 90 minutes long and the set pieces are surprisingly compact given that the entire premise of the story is an ordinary girl turning into Dr. Manhattan.
Lucy (Johannson) is introduced as a carefree college student who gets caught up in a Korean drug ring and forced to transport a synthetic new drug inside her body. When she gets kicked around by your typical underworld thugs, the bag inside of her bursts releasing the new drug into her system and taps into her brain's full potential. As many people online have already pointed out, the "10% of your brain" myth has already been disproven ten times over and over the course of the film its clear that the movie throws logic out the window to give you some mindbending visuals and some pseudo-science about the nature of time and space.
Oh what's that? Knowledge of the universe? The meaning of life? The nature of existence? Yeah...the movie may spout off a lot about this stuff, but it's really best not to think about it. There's a major difference between the kind of sci-fi that makes the audience reflect deeply upon what we still cannot understand vs. sci-fi that makes cool stuff happen because science, and Lucy is deeply entrenched in the latter. Yes it uses all the right technobabble, but the understanding it has on the themes it talks about feels shallow and really won't expand one's understanding of humanity in the same way Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell would. Frankly, even the newest Planet of the Apes did a better job with allowing audiences to ponder about humanity. But hey! Psychic powers! Isn't that awesome?
One of the big questions about this movie is whether or not it proves Scarlett Johannson can carry a solo Black Widow film, and to be honest her performance in this movie is too one-note to really confirm it. The titular character in the beginning is a very likable and fallible human being that everyone can root for, but the instant the superpowers kick in she essentially reverts to the Terminatrix for the rest of the film. Yes it's understood that Lucy loses her humanity the more powerful she becomes, but it's a shame to have such a wonderful actress play an emotionless girl who becomes harder to root for as time goes on. The few times she does emote are a treat and it's also a given she can handle the action set pieces, but you're probably better off watching the previous Marvel movies to get a better sense of her leading lady potential.
I'm not going to beat around the bush longer than I have to: Lucy is a small film in a sea of giants that's fun to watch and nothing more. While it may seem intelligent and thought provoking based on the trailers, it's ultimately an entertaining popcorn flick that's not nearly as heavy as the huge epic blockbusters that will likely eclipse it later on. If you're looking for something quick and pretty, give Lucy a go. Just don't expect to have your mind blown.
Confession time: I was one of those kids who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s that was of the perfect demographic to be a Transformers fan...but it never caught on for me. Yes the toys were cool and now that I look back there was some relatively smart writing involved, but the original show itself bored me. The animation was clunky, there was a lot of crazy exposition, and too many robots fighting each other onscreen for me to keep count or even care. Now nearly 20 years and 3 movies later Transformers: Age of Extinction has been released and while it's noticeably better than the last two sequels, I can only give it a resounding "meh".
Oh sure there's a lot of action, the VFX budget is definitely off the charts, and the Hong Kong shots make the city look gorgeous, but there's only so many times you can explode things before everything starts feeling the same, and with this film reaching for nearly 3 hours the last thing you need is a bored audience.
The current story finds our favorite bots on the run since the 3rd film. You see, after wrecking all of Chicago the U.S. Government isn't too keen on letting either Autobot or Decepticon stay on Earth and have proceeded to hunt down every last one of them for the good of the country (sure it is...). We have a new protagonist in the form of aspiring inventor Cade Yaeger (played by Mark Whalburg) as he tries to make a living to support himself and his college bound daughter. When what he thinks is an old junk truck turns out to be Optimus Prime in disguise, it sets off a chain reaction of events that thrust him headfirst into a global conflict of obscene proportions. And if that sounded exactly like every other Transformers movie you've seen then congratulations, you just figured out how Michael Bay prints money with every installment of this series.
There are some good elements in this film. Mark Whalburg is much a more tolerable protagonist than Shia LeBeouf and the Transformers themselves get more screentime as opposed to sharing it with the US Military. Optimus, Bumblebee, and the three remaining Autobots are distinct characters, if not a smidge stereotypical and when the Dinobots show up it's nothing but nonstop mayhem destroying enemy bots left and right. And say what you will about how brainless the plot is, at least the cinematography looks good and you can actually tell what's going on this time.
However given how long it takes for the Dinobots to finally show up and all of the pseudo-intrigue that's supposed to hold our attention, all the explosive battles feel like one exhaustive sequence after another. It creates a weird dichotomy of a lot of stuff going on (Transformium, the Cybertronian bounty hunter, the CIA, etc.) and yet at the same time nothing of real value happens. We have a character arc for Optimus and some hints as to what the Cybertronian world may be like, but there is absolutely nothing that pushes the overall story of the Transformers forward. The fact that more recent animated series manage to do so much more in the same run time than all the movies combined speaks volumes, but if the box office numbers on this movie are anything to go by there is an airtight audience for this spectacle.
As I said before, Transformers: Age of Extinction is an all around average blockbuster movie. Not terrible by any means, but is ultimately a shallow explosion exhibition that really isn't all that different from the first couple of movies. There are much better blockbusters coming out this summer that are worth much more of your time, and really I'm pretty sure at this point most moviegoers have had more than enough of their fill of Michael Bay.
Hope you Transformers fans have fun with this one. I'm sticking to my Ninja Turtles. Now THAT'S what my childhood was all about.
Wait...what was that? A Turtles movie? And Michael Bay is attached to it?
-Richard "Rikun" Jao