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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

ni-no-kuni-game

Ni No Kuni was a game I heard was absolutely incredible in 2013 if you were a fan of traditional RPGs.  Now I’ve probably only played from start to finish a handful of RPGs, most of them being  Konami’s cult favorite Suikoden series.  I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game other then the first two on Gameboy Advane, so I know nothing about Cloud, Aerith, or any of those other spikey haired characters.  Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Final Remix was the last RPG I had played before Ni No Kuni and I had a mixed reaction to that, so I wasn’t already with a good attitude when it came to RPGs when I started Ni No Kuni.  And low and behold when I started Ni No Kuni, it was slow, boring, and slightly frustrating which threw me off  the first 10 hours or so when I was so swamped during the school year.  But when summer started I sucked it up and tried another go at it when I had more time.  40 hours later, my mind had completely shifted and Ni No Kuni is definitely one of the greatest RPGs I’ve ever played and I’m the best part is I’m not even close to being done with it.

All images owned by Level 5

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edge of tomorrow tom and emily

Edge of Tomorrow may be one of my favorite surprise good movies I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this year.  Edge of Tomorrow has comedy, action, a thought provoking story, incredible visuals, and a damn charming Tom Cruise.  Based on the novel, All You Need is Kill, the story follows military propaganda specialist Cage (Cruise).  When Cage resists a direct order being of joining the battle, he’s put on the front line where he dies almost instantly.  But something happens to Cage where he wakes up after death only to relive the same battle over and over again.  With the help of the army’s most badass marine, Rita (Emily Blunt), Cage uses this ability to his advantage to turn the tide of the war.  Basically this movie is Groundhog Day with space marines and Tom Cruise.

Minimal spoilers below.

All images owned by Warner Bros.

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the whole gang

Orange is the New Black aired on Netflix this past weekend and what a rush it has been binge watching the up and down roller coaster  that the second season was.  Following a similar structure as the first season, but mixing new elements such as new characters, an all-affecting conflict, and a different direction that shows that Litchfield has more problems than what Piper is directly dealing with.  The flashbacks return, showing welcome light on some of the older and lesser used character in the first season and we even get development on characters we really despised in the first season.  Orange is the New Black season 2 confirms that even the worst/best people have a shade of gray which makes us re-question our loyalty.  I know several times over my live-tweet marathon of the show that some of my tweets can be easily reversed based on some of the dynamic changes my favorite characters went through.

Anyways, today’s post is a further breakdown of what I thought of the season.

Spoilers ahead!  Watch this series if you haven’t!

All images are attributed and owned by Netflix

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wonderwoman guns

My first venture into DC comics was through some of the classics: The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight Returns, and Knightfall.  Sooner or later, I continued to pick up other Batman titles like Hush, Death in the Family, and Arkham Asylum.  I picked up everything that was considered Batman essential stories and sat proud of my collection of DC titles.  I continued to pick up a few DC imprints like Vertigo comics such as Fables and Y: The Last Man, further cementing my status as a DC fanboy.

What I hadn’t considered in the past was exploring other main DC titles.  For a while I was perfectly content with my collection.  Then I stumbled upon a fan webcomic created by Yale Stewart known as JL8.  This web comic series, based on the Justice League as if they were eight year old children, really compelled me to explore some of the other DC characters.  As a result I purchased The New 52 Justice League, happily reveling in the adult version of JL8.  But as I read Justice League, I slowly became interested in the individual members of the Justice League.  After some research, I’ve found that although Superman is one of the most popular superheroes in the DC universe, his beginning New 52 wasn’t as highly acclaimed as some of his co-League members.  Two heroes that have gotten a lot of acclaim were Wonder Woman and surprisingly Aquaman.  So I picked up whatever current volumes existed for these two super heroes.  I quickly learned that DC isn’t only ‘just Batman’.

The volumes covered in this article include:

  • Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench, written by Geoff Johns & illustrated  by Ivan Reiss
  • Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others, written by Geoff Johns & illustrated by Ivan Reiss
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood, written by Brian Azzarello & illustrated by Cliff Chiang

Minimal Spoilers ahead

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attack on titan opener

I don’t normally watch a lot of anime nor do I actively seek it out nor can I tell a good one from a bad one.  But 2013 was the year of referencing Attack on Titan.  Wit Studio, the company responsible for adapting the popular manga series, released the series only to claim a large number of rewards like best series, best musical score, and best theme song.  For all the websites I visit, reddit, kotaku, etc.  Attack on Titan has been at least referenced at least once as an incredible if not at least controversial series.  Especially because I don’t watch too much anime, I normally would’ve brushed this series off due to general disinterest, but all the media coverage and the constant referencing finally coerced me into watching the first couple of episodes.  And by episode 4 or 5, I was hooked, lined, and sunk into an abyss of excitement and sadness.

The Background

The year is 845 where over 100 years ago, a mysterious force called the titans wiped out majority of humanity.  These titans are giants, whose seemingly only purpose is to devour and wipeout mankind.  In response, humanity has created a series of walls, in order to ward off titan attacks and keep humanity safe.  When the walls are breached for the first time in 100 years, ambitious and young Eren Jaeger vows to wipe all the titans off the face of the earth.  With the help of his deadly adoptive sister and brilliant childhood friend, Eren embarks on a journey that can only be viewed as a suicide mission.

Watch Attack on Titan for yourself here on Crunchyroll

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joel and ellie
All images are owned by Naughty Dog

If you follow video games at all, you must have heard about Naughty Dog’s most recent title, The Last of Us, which is shattering records in both the critical acclaim and sales aspects.  The Last of Us is a hyper realistic survival game set in an post-apocalyptic world, following an unlikely pair, Joel, an old and grizzled man, and Ellie, a young girl.  Together they go on a journey across country trying to find the key to humanity, or at least survive it.

This game is definitely one of the top contenders for the title, ‘Game of the Year’.  As ambiguous and generic as giving that title to any game may seem, The Last of Us had it all.  Great story, compelling action, beautiful graphics, and emotional depth.  We’re not going to go into story too much here as a matter of fact, we’re not going to talk much about any spoilers at all.  This is simply a review of the amazing things that happen in the game and some of the not so great [but kinda negligible] things worth commenting on.

I haven’t tried the multiplayer yet, so if you have any comments on that, let me know in the comments below in addition to any other comments you might have about the game in general.

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veronica mars camera

When you come across ‘best tv shows ever’ lists, you’ll see a hodgepodge of obvious award winning television shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, etc.  Every once in a while, you’ll come across a little known UPN/CW show called Veronica Mars.  Back then, I would scoff and say how weird this Dawson’s Creek/Gillmore Gills look-a-like made this list?  I mean a show about the dramas of little ‘ol highschoolers?  How is this ABC Familiy-esque TV show getting such high praise?  So I threw it in the back of my head and judged the judgements of others and claimed that it must have been some sort of fluke.

And then that Kickstarter happened.  Creator Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter asking loyal Veronica Mars fans to help make their dream come true by asking the unreal sum of $2,000,000.  Twenty four hours later, the goal was broken and the final sum of the Kickstarter ended past $5,000,000.  So I had it.  That was it.  I had to see what the big deal was about.  Who was this Veronica Mars and why was she so special?  What could compel fans enough to throw $5,000,000 at the promise of a movie about some non-premium cable TV show?  How does a such a rabid fan base exist that I’m not a part of yet?  I investigated all these by finally catching up on the three seasons of Veronica Mars in preparation for the movie.  And now I just wish I was a fan earlier, so I could too help support this much needed cause.

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Parks and Recreation - Season 5

It’s no secret that my love for television extends beyond many of my other loves.  These include video games, movies, drawing, books, and comic books.  Doing these recaps are my favorite because it allows you to share with everyone about your favorite shows and gives others a chance to chime in their opinions on what I’m missing out on!  Trust me, these kind of things actually happen because it’s because of my readers that I got into Modern Family!

Anywho, Winter/Spring television is very much started and some shows only have a week or two left before their finales, but I figured now would be a good time to recap on what’s happened and why you should pick up on the shows I’m watching!  11 Shows this season, can you keep up?

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dark knight returns 1

Did you ever want to know what would happen to Batman when he would inevitably become aged?  In Frank Miller’s non-canonical but still incredibly relevant, “The Dark Knight Returns”,  follows Batman in his golden years, 10 years after retirement.  As Gotham is still in the dark shadows, a new generation of criminals who do not know fear try to take over Gotham.  Only so long can the Dark Knight sit idly as he watches the city he gave half of his life to burns.  But he isn’t the only one watching Gotham…When he inevitably comes back, an old foe’s spark is reignited to return as well.

Spoilers beware

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kick-ass

Kick-Ass, a title you’ve only probably heard as a 2010 movie that relatively little people saw, revolved around a boy who wanted to become a superhero in everyday life.  The movie was based on a comic book written by Mark Millar (Wanted) and illustrated by John Romita, Jr.  Being a super geek myself, I’ve found myself in the same position that I wish I could be a superhero in real life.  Unfortunately this is not the type of comic book or movie to inspire you to do so.  Both tales are dark, one being significantly darker than the other, with cutting dialogue, violent page spreads, and snappy pop culture references.

Seeing as not many people have read or even seen the movie, I’ll keep this article light on the major spoilers.

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There are a lot of options to choose from when looking for something to watch on Netflix Instant – sometimes too many options to tell what is good and what isn’t. There is one movie available which stands out as a groundbreaking example of one of the world’s first sci-fi films.

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The Amazing Spider-Man came out on DVD and Blu-Ray this past week and I was able to finally watch what I didn’t feel obliged to watch in the movie theaters.  After only 5 years, it’s pretty absurd to get another reboot, with other reboots of such short range only being [in my knowledge] Sweden’s 2008 Let the Right One In and America’s 2010 adaptation Let Me In or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Swedish and America’s version in 2009 and 2011 versions, respectively. But in all honesty, rebooting foreign films is somewhat understandable versus the Sony reboot with totally different cast and director.  So this was definitely an interesting watch.  Balancing whether or not it stands in itself from the original trilogy starting in 2002 or if it’s better or worse doesn’t necessarily matter, because it already made loads of money and sequels are on the way.  This new series will eventually overshadow the original whether it’s better or worse simply because it’s more contemporary.  However, I still find it interesting to write about as the new direction they took is definitely worth writing about.

You all know Spider-Man’s story.  Peter Parker is a textbook nerd with a descent heart and gets bitten by a mutative spider.  Director Marc Webb [500 Days of Summer] took a darker approach to the film with more realistic [but still fairly absurd considering the source material] storylines and better chemistry between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone [in my opinion] than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.  But let’s get into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Spoilers Away!

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As I finished a test on October 30th, I left the classroom defeated and broken.  In a rage of impulsiveness, I went to the closest Gamestop and purchased Assassin’s Creed 3 on the fly.  I had read a couple of reviews and I actually wasn’t expecting myself to buy this game.  At least until the Game of the Year Edition came out with all the DLC loaded.  But I was in such a foul mood after that test, I needed some immediate happiness.  So after purchasing the game and throwing possibly over 10-20 hours into it already [maybe more], it’s been quite an interesting road.

Assassin’s Creed 3 picks up where Assassin’s Creed: Revelations dropped off [which I didn’t get].  My familiarity with the franchise only extends to 2 of the four previously released: Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood.  The story is somewhat bloated between the present day  Assassin/Templar conflict and the historical setting that’s essentially simulated.  I have little care for the relation between the two and find myself loathing the present day stuff, so I’m going to focus this review on the historical setting chosen.

You play a Native American, Connor, during the peak of the American Revolution.  The colonies are in conflict and the British Royal Army continues its oppression.  Given the skills of a masterful assassin, it’s your job to turn the tides of the war making friends like Samuel Adams and George Washington along the way.

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Loeb and Sale

There isn’t a more fitting review to write a couple of  days after Halloween.  A while back, I announced my recent expedition to graphic novels.  About half of my purchases were Batman-related.  My recent obsession with Batman is quite deep: drawings [see them here] and a replay of  what is my opinion the best video game of 2011, Arkham City.  Reading the Long Halloween was another great way to solidify my love for the Batman universe.  Widely regarded as one of the best Batman Graphic Novels of all time,The Long Halloween adds surprising depth to the Batman universe and in Christopher Nolan’s words, “The Long Halloween is more than a comic book, it’s an epic tragedy”.  This review is riddled with references to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as it’s well known that this graphic novel served as inspiration to the writing of that movie.

This is a recommendation piece, so I’ve allowed as minimal spoilers as possible.

Historical Overview and Basic Plot of Jeph Loeb

Written in 1996 and published in 1997, The Long Halloween was written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale.  The graphic novel itself received critical acclaim and created two sequels to this series: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome. The basic plot of Jeph Loeb’s story is written during the early days of Batman’s career where crime mob families are still adjusting to the Dark Knight’s presence.  But when a serial killer sparks a mob war between two families, Batman tries his best to get down to the identity of the killer before more people are killed. (more…)

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I got around to finally watching Prometheus having skipped out on it when it was out in theaters.  I didn’t really know what to expect as a whole although I did watch the trailer and was pleasantly surprised on how hair raising it was.  Therefore, I wasn’t too surprised and even disappointed when I saw the movie and thought it to be as hair raising and spine tingling as the trailer.  Ridley Scott sure knows how to make a pretty damn entertaining movie.  The cast is great, with special shout-out to Michael Fassbender’s David.  The writers however have another issue coming at them, while they did pen a great cast of personalities and create an interesting premise, they ultimately failed to deliver on the bringing the story to some descent closure.  First a short summary and then read on below for a SPOILER FILLED  critique and review as well as hopefully the beginning of a great discussion on a definite “love it/hate it” type movie.

Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are archeologists/anthropologists [I’m not entirely sure on what their profession is, seeing as they’re pretty well versed in a lot of stuff regarding humanity] who have found an alien connection throughout human history.  They appeal to a research and development company to charter a 2 year journey to an obscure planet.  Joining them are a crew of geologists, biologists, pilots, an android and commanding officers.  When they arrive on the planet they find themselves far more over their heads than thought possible.

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Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was perhaps my most anticipated film voyage as of late apart from maybe Perks of Being a Wallflower. The British film is based off of a novel of the same name by Paul Torday. It premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and achieved widespread release in 2012. The premise is eccentric and endearing. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are the dream team of charm. And there is something romantic to me about salmon. I want to start this review of “Salmon Fishing” the way one of my favorite movies 500 Days of Summer began. This is the story of a boy meets movie, “but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.” (more…)

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Starz

The workplace comedy.  It’s funny how work place comedies entertain us through something that we’re supposed to be confronting with everyday.  For those who don’t know what the workplace comedy is, it’s like a movie or television show that is primarily set in a single business and follows the antics of its employees, using jokes that are relatable to anyone in a similar situation [queue the entire workforce].  The comedy is written around office norms and situations and the antics that can occur.  While some movies and television can be solid escapism, workplace comedy juggernauts like Clerks, Office Space, The Office, etc. can certainly point out some of the funnier aspects in what many of us consider mundane.

Queue the most recent workplace comedy I’ve been fortunate enough to watch: Starz’s Party Down, starring Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, and Ken Marino.  This show aired in 2009 and was cancelled after 2 seasons.  There have been talks about a movie release, but it doesn’t seem enough gas is on the burner, so I’m writing this article to maybe get 1 or 2 of you involved with watching to increase the cult following.  Set is California, the comedy revolves around a party catering company that primarily consists of failed/working actors using the catering company Party Down as a means of making money before finally making it big.  Self-centered, lazy, horny, ignorant and [often] drugged up, the Pardy Down crew ‘caters’ to a myriad of hilariously great situations that involve brushing with a Russian Mob, a Porn Star Dinner, and an orgy.  Read more as to why I recommend you become a follower of this cult hit [more cult followers = more likely chance of a movie getting made, just look at what Arrested Development accomplished].

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It took a while, but I finally got to the end of Mockingjay, the third book of the Hunger Games Trilogy.  To be straightforward with it, I’ll be honest, I didn’t enjoy this one.  People say that the third book is their least favorite, but this book became so much of a chore to finish, that I ended up resenting it for putting me through it in order to finish.  The adventures of Katniss Everdeen have long worn me down with her whining and essential uselessness, and the finale of the war for Panem through her eyes is so boring and disappointing that it kind of put a sour taste in my mouth regarding the whole series.  And I find it even harder to believe that this is the movie they’ll be splitting up into two parts.  Below, my list of both my distastes and liked moments of the Hunger Games Trilogy Finale.  Spoilers below.

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All images owned by Gearbox Software

Since my midnight pick up of Borderlands 2, it’s an understatement saying that it’s been a tremendous trending event in my life.  I’ve had about a week with the game and I’ve thrown over 40 hours into it so far.  With other places like IGN, Gamespot, and other professional sites giving reviews of having played even more hours than I have, I decided to share some of my experiences and impressions instead.

Any Problem with the First Game? Consider it Fixed

If your beef with the first game was the dry settings, similar AI, and bland/uncompelling story, then start praising Gearbox for taking the time to listen to their audience and fix all these problems.  It’s not uncommon knowledge that the settings are way ore beautiful, the enemies are way more diversified, and the story is much more sensical and even worthwhile.  Even some smaller issues with the game like lack of personalization of your characters are attempted to be fixed.  Beforehand, ‘treasure hunting’ was the primary motivation for the vault hunters, but the game makes somewhat an effort to try and draw why these new characters are on Pandora in the first place.  And if you were confused as to why the originals are in Pandora, seeing them again certainly fills in some plot holes.

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It’s been over a year since I pledged to watch The Wire and I’ve finally accomplished it.  People have gone to great lengths to define the greatest television drama of all time, with The Wire more than often reaching the finals if not being the victor.  That’s what truly inspired me to get in on this in the first place.  I mean, regardless of content, personal taste, or opinion, if this many people are praising it or even talking about it as much as they are, I figured it would definitely be worth the shot.

So 5 seasons later, which equivocates to over 40 hours, [5 seasons with about 10 episodes each episode having 50 minutes] here I stand, finally having an opinion on what is regarded as one of the greatest shows on television.  And shit, boy did it not disappoint.  We’ll keep this discussion spoiler free as I’ll tread lightly on some of the high points of the series.  Read on below to either learn about the Wire or simply relive some memories.

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