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Pick Of The Week

Review: Marvel’s Iron Fist on Netflix

Iron_Fist_NetflixUnlike most of my reviews, I’m going to keep this one straight to the point and less in depth.  The reason is because of the amounts of positive vs negative the show had.  My negatives are NOT what other people complained about.  I guess I’m a purist and less concerned about appeasing to the masses, because the negatives that I’ve read is more along those lines.  That being said, there is a lot of positive too, that isn’t given enough credit.

Let’s set the record straight.  This is not the best Marvel Netflix show.  It is in my opinion tied with Jessica Jones for last place, but certainly not bad.  The controversial casting is absolute crap.  Danny Rand as a white guy has always been.  The actor did a great job with what he was given, and I’m hoping his mannerisms are corrected as this is sort of an origin to the Iron Fist character.  My complaints?  Use a razor.  I’m tired of the scruffy look.  Danny should in my mind be clean and youthful looking.  He was with monks after all.  We already have Daredevil, Jessica, and Luke being total badasses.  He should be just as kick ass, but not so tough looking.

The Hand played a decent role in the show, with the highlight easily being Madame Gao, and Davos.  The latter of these two also had a good set up for becoming the next villain (Steel Serpent).  Claire is obviously the glue to bring the Defenders together, so her role although it felt sort of forced, worked for what it was.  Colleen and the Meachums were also very good in every scene.

Action wise this played out just like a classic kung fu movie, with heavy story and not a lot of fighting until the end.  The problem here is that the fighting seemed subpar.  For someone who is supposedly the best fighter in the world, he sure gets beat up a lot.

The first five episodes really had me hooked.  Then episode six came and it slowly went down hill.  The final episode was great, but then they threw on that extra two minute ending and I wanted to forget everything else.  That ending was not good.  They threw it there to get people to come back and see what happens next, but it felt disrespectful to everything else it had done over 13 episodes.

In my opinion Iron Fist doesn’t really work on its own.  I think it has to be Powerman and Iron fist or a heroes for Hire.  That would be worth the time.  I wanted to really love this show, and though I liked it, I can’t claim I’d ever rewatch it.  Other reviews say Danny should have been an Asian guy.  Stop changing races and looks of characters!!!  We get that enough.  If any thing I’d think that’d be offensive to Asians to be typecast in that role.  Danny being trained by Asian monks is what makes the idea work.  They just need to figure out how to do all of that.

One final thought… they could have done a little better of explaining how he got his powers.  I know, and comic readers know, but any new comer will be left slightly confused by the lack of information.

Iron Fist gets 2.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings from me.  It is enjoyable at its good moments, and disappointing at its bad ones.  These fall 50/50 throughout the whole thing, so I’ve voted right down the middle.

What did you think?  Comment below.


Review: Stranger Things Season 1

stranger-thingsOkay, I know I’m behind on this one, but best things come to those who wait, right?  I’ll keep this review fairly brief.

Season 1 of Stranger things was a hesitation on my part.  I didn’t want to watch because everyone said such great things about it, that I didn’t want to be let down.  This is part of the reason why I never watched Lost, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or Walking Dead (past season 1).  I just think things get taken out of context and hyped too much.

For Stranger Things though, I can say the reviews were mostly right.  I am stuck wondering if this is a generational thing though.  The show was nostalgic for me, and reminded me of how life was when I grew up in the 80s.  Okay, maybe not the upside down, or monster aspect, but the way childhood and family life was handled.  There were less worries about people being bad, and more about the fantastical.

Some of the show’s narrative was predictable at parts, but mostly it was given a good level of suspense and story telling to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.  Credit must really be given to the cast.  Each of these actors and actresses were outstanding and convincing in their performances.

I don’t want to review much about it because it takes away from it if you haven’t seen it.  All I can say is that it is easily binge worthy, and I can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store.  I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 sCrypt coffins only because some originality was lost due to nostalgic things, but this is not at all a flaw with the series.  In fact, I think it is part of what makes it what it is.  What did you think about Stranger Things Season 1?

 


A Whole new experience

IMG_7659[1]Whether you are into video games or not, this is something you must try.  Before I get into how amazing Zero Latency’s VR Arena is, I want to take a moment to mention where I played it.

Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos of PA was probably my second favorite vacation of all time (Second only to Disney).  The décor, food, water park, arcade, shops, and comfort of the rooms are only part of the experience.  We stayed from Friday through Sunday, and it served as a perfect little get away.

Now onto the gaming experience.  I was privileged to try the Arena and given a selection of which scenario I’d like to try.  As of right now there are only a handful, but this is just the beginning of an era in VR technology.  I’ve tried the headsets you can buy in the store, but they don’t even compare.  The arena is in a full sized warehouse.  It is an empty dark room with some circles on the floor and walls.  You wear a vest, headset and VR helmet, which puts you into the game using a series of motion capture sensors.

I had the honor of meeting Andre, who works with the company responsible for the games.  We spoke a bit about the two available games (they run about 20 minutes each), and what is on the horizon for the company.  Hint: They are opening more locations around the country and the world.

You must be 13 to play these games and that is for a safety aspect.  The one game I didn’t try was called “Engineerium.”  It is a cartoony world where you solve puzzles to progress. There is no shooting or action, but the bit that I saw was out of this world… literally.  It works in an M.C. Esher manner where you can walk on walls and upside down.  In real life you are standing and walking in a room, but your mind sees and tells your body something else.

Since I just did the Escape the Room experience a few weeks ago, I wanted to get into the genre where I first began writing books.  Since FLESH AND LEFTOVERS was my debut novel years ago, I felt it’d be good to revisit zombies.  So, I played “Survival.”

I was warned before hand that this can be an overwhelming and downright intense experience.  I’ve tried military simulators in the past, so I wasn’t worried.  I now retract that line of thought.  This is something way beyond that.  Picture yourself inside a video game, able to walk around in a place that responds to your body movements.

The survivalist in me didn’t need the four weapons supplied.  (You are given a shotgun, sniper rifle, assault rifle, and heavy assault rifle.)  You only actually carry one weapon in your hand, but a button on the side allows you to switch back and forth.  I’m a person who likes to make every shot count, and conserve my ammunition.  I stayed mostly with the light assault rifle for short controlled bursts.  It paid off.

IMG_7661[1]Myself, and 4 others were put into the scenario together.  I was the only person who hadn’t played it before, but was able to figure out a plan immediately.  In this game you must defend your position from a horde of zombies.  Not only is it important to make your shots count (headshots are the best), but to utilize the explosive barrels, and keep your defense barriers erected to prevent an onrush.

Andre played with us, and he took a sniper position on an elevated platform.  (In reality he was really on the level we were, but to us and him in game, he was up high.)  We worked well together for the first ten minutes.  Our base was heavily fortified.  But then it became frantic.  More zombies came, and this is when the stress began to kick in.  Andre called down to tell us that he was coming down to help out.  The zombies started finding a way up to him, and it was becoming harder to maintain our borders.

Then someone shouted, “We’ve got a breach!”  and as I turned around I saw a zombie within a few feet of me.  I ran.  Yes, literally ran away as I fired into its face.  My flaw was not thinking about what was behind me, and the surround sound told me I needed to turn fast.  A massive beast of an undead man towered over me by a few inches and I managed to dodge in the nick of time.

At this point in the game, I actually felt anxiety.  I kept telling myself this wasn’t real, but when I say I could feel fear build within me, I’m not lying.  I breathed slowly and tried to act calm to concentrate on the task, and not the flurry of emotion.  One of my squad mates was then “eaten.”  When you die, you stay in place in a neutral state until you are respawned ten seconds later.  I did not die, but when your team mate does, it becomes even harder.

Movement is the key.  This is not a shoot em up game.  This is survival… and shooting is only part of that.  Communication and agility help as key factors.  Once the helicopter arrived to lift our platform, we ran to the extraction zone.  This was very difficult because you need to remain relatively confined at this point.  The good news is that you are all back to back, so you can cover each other and all sides.

Once our platform was lifted, I switched to my sniper rifle and began picking off the horde from a distance.  This was more calming and was a good wind down to the whole thing.  There are people who have run out on the scenario and have asked to be removed from the game for its intensity.  It is only a game, but your mind does a great job of taking you into that virtual world.

If horror isn’t a thing for you, then you need to try the Engineerium.  It won’t scare you, or get your anxiety up, but will force your perception of reality into another world.

They also rank you in the game.  I scored the highest kills in my squad, and among the thousands of people who have played, I placed #115 in rank.  Apparently I’m a way better survivalist (though not the best) than a gamer, because if this were on a TV, I wouldn’t have the benefit of being able to see all my surroundings.

I can see this as a more improved training device, not just for fun, but for running special training for police and military at some point.  (Of course nothing will prepare you for the real thing, but this is an amazing step toward that)

I’ve attached a pic of my score, and if you head over to my Instagram page @rickpipito, you’ll see a little video clip of me being calibrated into the game.  I’ve also embedded a trailer of the game I played (below).  Picture what you see there, but up close and personal, and all around you.  The visuals and audio provided really take you to another place.  Also, head over to http://www.zerolatencyvr.com to learn more about it and all their games/locations.

Have you ever tried Virtual reality like this?  let me know what you think.  Comment with your thoughts on where gaming is going or anything else you want to say.

 

 

 

 


Review: Logan

loganDafne Keen.  Remember that name, because she’s a talented young actress in a movie filled with every aspect of the emotional spectrum.  I’m going to review Logan in my typical breakdown, so if you don’t want spoilers, then skip down to the final paragraph for my rating.  Otherwise, stick around for my character break down and feel free to share your thoughts on the film.

James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine – Hugh Jackman gave us what we wanted.  He may not have always had the best material with which to work, but the man cared about what he did.  His portrayal of the character in this movie is the best out of them all.  The dynamic of his healing factor being practically gone made him very vulnerable.  Combine that with his care free attitude, and you’ve got a grumpy old man who is being poisoned by his own adamantium.  I must say that I’m happy he perished in the end.  I don’t want to see anyone take up the mantle of wolverine for a very long time after this (UNLESS it’s X-23).  We will get to that in a moment.

Professor Charles Xavier – As with Hugh, Patrick Stewart always shined in his role as the psychic mutant, but in this movie we are given another shift in the standard.  He’s got borderline alzheimers, and needs caring for.  I love that they addressed this disease in a mutant.  Imagine if in real life, one had his abilities and had no idea what they were doing with them.  There was a brief mention that he was the one responsible for the X-Men dying.  I’d have loved to have gotten a little more explanation on that, but I think it would have been unnecessary in the long run.  I was surprised he died the way that he did, which is a good thing.  It happened at a moment that was him confessing his own guilt.  What a perfect way to go (not in the manner that he died, but the fact that he’d gotten it all off his chest.

Zander Rice – Although a small role, it suited its purpose.  This was more about the characters, than the actual story, so he didn’t need to be doing more than he was.  We got his back story, and a nice tie in to the original weapon X program that his father ran.  In a way they respected all of the previous movies to an extent, despite the timeline being reset.  It shows that some of those original events may have happened the same or slightly different.

Donald Pierce and the Reavers – I was really hoping for Omega Red, a return of Lady Deathstrike, or Sabertooth as the villain.  When I heard the reavers were the antagonists, I shook my head and thought it was going to be a failure.  I am SO glad I was wrong.  They managed to make decent villains that matched the tone of this film in a way that was akin to Mad Max.  It worked really well.

Caliban – I loved Stephen Merchant in this role.  I don’t know why they recast him since Apocalypse, but he looked very similar, and for anyone not paying attention I’m sure they didn’t notice.  He played the part better than his predecessor, but I wish we’d have gotten a mention of his younger years in that way.  We were also presented with Zander Rice saying to gather the body, when Caliban sacrificed himself.  It set up 2 possible scenarios.  1) Caliban could be cloned and come back as a more deformed version (like in the comics) or 2) in the original Days of Future past storyline (in the comics) they used mutant hound trackers to locate the mutants.  This would make sense, as the anti-mutant sentiment was strong in this film.

Laura/X-23 – Remember that name I mentioned, Dafne Keen?  Well she played this part so well, that I think we can have a very VERY good version of wolverine from here on out.  In the comics, she’s the current Wolverine after the death of her father.  They’ve set it up, so I think she’d be perfect in all future incarnations.  I’d love to see her as part of the X-Force movie.  She did an outstanding job with her rage, caring, and rebellious nature, but when she was crying, “Daddy,” at the end I lost it.  I never cry in movies, and I could feel the tears trickling.  Excellent job, little lady.

Rictor and the New Mutants – Who were the new mutants?  Who knows, but the presence of Rictor could mean an X-Factor reference or set up.  While I’ve no real care for these characters in the comics, it’s nice to have this sort of nod in the movies, and despite James Mangold constantly saying this is a stand alone movie, the references to the greater universe seem to be abundant.  The use of the children here wasn’t overwhelming, but a decent nod to what’s possibly to come.  Could they be X-Factor like I said, or maybe recruits for Cable, or even a set up to what eventually could be an X-Men 2099?  Like I said, these don’t need to be all made into movies, but it’s fun for continuity and discussion sake.

X-24 – Here’s what I feel was a low point at first, but then my mind changed.  Hugh Jackman is basically younger here and more primal.  He’s even got a haircut and style to match what Sabretooth had in the first Wolverine movie.  Why then wasn’t Sabretooth used?  We never got a final showdown between the two.  It would have worked just as well as X-24.  Hell he could even have gotten his wish and become X-24 with Adamantium skeleton.  (Remember that is what he wanted originally).  So I complain about this, but then think to my childhood and how there was once a character named “Albert.”  Albert was a robot created by the Reavers that looked like Wolverine.  His storyline also involved a little girl that Logan had to take care of.  Okay, it got way more complicated than that, but I feel like this is not a coincidence.  I believe they used this angle to replace the elements they couldn’t use from the original Old Man Logan storyline.

Enough rambling from me.  Here are my final thoughts for potential on what this movie COULD mean for the X universe.  Here’s my speculation:  GAMBIT is in the works.  Where he falls into this all remains to be seen, but he could be a good element to X-Force since Archangel was killed off in Apocalypse.  Now that Wolverine is dead, perhaps the film could see this lineup: Cable, Deadpool, Domino, X-23, and Gambit… NEW MUTANTS is in the works as well.  Maybe this will center around the new team of kids, but who would lead them?  Again, there’s no telling, but if James McAvoy’s run ends then we could see Cyclops, Jean, and Storm leading the new team.  I realize there is a time problem here, but when hasn’t there been in these movies, and with Cable involved this is all possible.

In conclusion: Logan was a film made for comic book fans, and movie goers.  It reminded me of an old western with comic elements.  It was a roller coaster of emotion that didn’t disappoint.  There will be bigger nerds than me complaining about certain little things, but who cares?  This was the best interpretation of Wolverine yet.  Stewart and Jackman played the roles better than they ever have, and Keen showed talent rare for even veteran actors.  She’s a natural.  I’ll give the movie 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt Coffins.  What did you think?  How would you rate it?  Comment below.


Review: Resident Evil 7 Biohazard

resident-evil-7-biohazard-cpy-cracked-1I won’t go too in depth here because I feel that this game surprised me so much, that I don’t want to spoil it for others.  I’ve been a huge fan of the Resident Evil game series since its beginning.  After 6 I was left satisfied at a storyline that sort of closed out.  7 brings a fresh take on the franchise that is so much better than zombies.

This game scared the hell out of me at times, gave me anxiety, and had me so involved in the mystery of the story that I couldn’t put it down.  If I claim that this is the best of the franchise, I don’t think I’m exaggerating.  It IS the best one.  The switch to a first person perspective, and the tweaking of inventory items is a loveable change.

With barely any ties to the other games at all this really does feel like a new adventure, and I can’t wait to see where they go with it.  There is DLC coming out in the Spring, and I’ll be sure to check that out because I was left with a question or two.

My main question is a big spoiler, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know…. Maybe someone can give me a theory on it… Was that really Chris at the end?  I don’t think so, because 1) he looked different, 2) he referred to himself as his last name, and 3) He was enemies with Wesker, so why name a gun after him?  (If you missed the name of the weapon he throws you it is called “albert”.)

End spoilers…  Anyway, overall the game gets 5 out of 5 sCrypt coffins in my book.  It is the first game in a while that has really impressed me, and the introduction of all new characters was a relief.


Review: Rogue One A Star Wars Story

star-wars-rogue-one-poster-691x1024There’s been no doubt that this movie would be a success, so in order to avoid seeing spoilers I rushed out with my son this morning and saw Rogue One.  We found this one to be a good stand alone movie that fills in some back story, and introduces new characters that fit in well to the canon.  But does Rogue One live up to the hype?  If you don’t want spoilers, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating, otherwise here is the breakdown of what I thought per character:

Jyn Erso: Felicity Jones’ character didn’t need to have more than ten minutes of back story to understand why she is who she is.  They did a great job of explaining a lot in a little bit of time, and it feels as if she’s been key to the main episodes all along.  (In truth she has).  The fact that she dies in the end (along with every other member of this main cast) quells any fan boy theories about her being Rey’s mom.  This was the biggest shocker (the death of everyone), that didn’t really shock me after I thought about it.  It explains why we never see or hear of these characters again.  It also was a great thing, as we know they won’t try to pump out useless sequels to something that’s supposed to be a spinoff one shot.

Cassian Andor: Diego Luna had me thinking he was going to be a real prick from the moment he was on screen, but his rough exterior and approach was a façade.  Jyn and he made the perfect team.  His motives are clear, and despite anything he’d done wrong in the past, he has a reason to back Jyn up on her mission in order to right those wrongs.  I loved this angle.

Krennic: Was a completely unlikeable villain.  This is good for story telling.  He reminded me of a teenager not getting his way and throwing temper tantrums.  Adolescent demeanor aside he provided a big threat to Erso and Andor’s plans, but got his karma paid back in the end.

Chirrut Îmwe: He was perhaps my favorite new character.  A blind monk who lives by the Force, and provided a bit of comic relief.  I like how there was a brief mention that he was a guardian of the Force Temple. (That’s the place we see Luke at at the end of episode 7.)  So we get a bit of what those people were like.

Baze Malbus: was an equally badass partner to Chirrut.  Although he didn’t believe so much in the Force, he stood by his friend’s side til the end.  His heavy weapon pack was one of the coolest Star Wars weapons to date.

Galen Erso: Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors of today, so you can already see where I’m going with his assessment.  It’s odd to see him in the role of a good guy lately, but he plays the part of father well, and this now makes A New Hope that much better.  One of my all time complaints with episode 4 was that the Death Star was too easily destroyed for such a massive and seemingly impervious machine.  Galen building the exhaust port as a way to access the main core is a genius way of making that which happens next make more sense.

K-2SO: As always with these films, the droids are a highlight, and he’s no exception.  Finally we get to see a droid in action and with no filter on his mouth he seems more relatable than any of the previous droids we’ve met.

Bodhi Rook: seemed unstable to me, even before that creepy squid leech thing latched onto his mind.  Despite that concern, he proved to be a reliable character that fleshed out well.  I only wish we’d have gotten to understand a little more about his motives.  He betrayed the empire.  We get Galen’s reason, but why did Bodhi?

Saw Gerrera: was in the Clone Wars, so this is the first character we actually get to see from that era who was key to the plot.  Unfortunately for us we don’t know (without watching the cartoon) how he got so damaged physically.  He needed oxygen not so differently than Vader does.  He’s a heaping mess of bio and mechanical parts.  His demise so soon was unexpected as I thought Forest Whittaker would have been in it longer, but I think how he was utilized was done so with a smart approach.

Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, C-3PO, and R2-D2 – all had good placement in their cameos/small roles.  It connected this movie to the others in a way to show continuity, without using them as the driving force (pun intended) behind the new characters.  We also get a few other nods and cameos in the background or in quick passing that made me smile.

Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia – And here’s what left a bad taste in my mouth.  The special effects here were off with Tarkin in a way that made him uncomfortable to watch.  I think it’s awesome that they brought back the character, as he is crucial to the next chapter in the main story.  He had to be there, but the digital recreation of the face didn’t work when he was speaking.  It was almost as if his face was moving too much, yet not at all in some spots.  I understand this is nitpicky, but then we get the cameo from Princess Leia at the end, and she looked flawless.  I mean it was like she was pulled right from episode 4.  Aside from the looks the presence of these two was perfect.  This shows how Tarkin gained control of the Death Star, as well as how Leia got the plans.  Even my son’s eyes went wide with Leia’s cameo at the end.

Storm Troopers: My son always loves the storm troopers, as do I.  I found that the addition of the Sand troopers was a bit much.  They didn’t really need them as there were standard troopers everywhere.  It’s not like they were trying to blend in.  This was a pure merchandising move, but one I won’t argue with.  The same can be said for the newly added ships.  Not necessary, but a welcome addition.

Darth Vader:  I have to say that by the end of the movie I was a little upset at his lack of use, but then the second I thought that he came on screen and went on a rampage.  This was the best Vader scene we get to see in full attire.  It shows him at the peak of his rage, and connects him more to his former Annakin self than the other movies do.  I love how we also get to see how he takes a bath.  A Sith Lord must keep clean after all.  My complaint may be picky, but I’ve two here.  1) The lightsaber looked out of proportion.  It looked entirely too short in the final shot of him, and I feel it didn’t match up with what we’ve seen of the weapon in all its other appearances.  It was more a short sword than anything else here.  2) James Earl Jones was a welcome return to the voice, but something about his portrayal didn’t feel energetic or convincing enough.  It could be that he’s quite a bit older now, but I feel he lacked some emotion that could have made Vader much more menacing than he already was.

Time period wise I was a little off in my assumptions of when this took place.  I thought this happened a few years before episode IV, but I was mistaken as it leads directly into A New Hope.  Either way it was a great interpretation with lots of surprises that caught me off guard.  With the exception of some special effects irregularities, this stands well with the franchise, but does not exceed the greatness of a couple of the other entries in the series.  All in all I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5 sCrypt Coffins.

What do you think?  Did you like Rogue One?  Comment below.


12 Days of Not So Christmas Movies

There are dozens of lists about which movies make the Christmas list and which take place during Christmas.  The problem with these lists is that they are almost all the same.  Sure, there are a few repeats in here, but I wanted to share with you my choices for movies that take place during Christmas time, but are not actually Holiday movies.  Here we go in no particular order:

img_71221: Harry Potter – Why did I not mention which Harry Potter movie?  The answer is that a few of the films take place during the Holiday season, so therefore the whole franchise gets thrown in the lot.  These are perfect for the kids and family.

2: When Harry Met Sally – Who hasn’t seen this movie?  It’s one of the best romantic comedies of all time in my opinion.  Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan deliver a perfect date night movie that will never get “oh, oh oh…..” old.

3: Die Hard 1 & 2 – Okay, so the second installment was basically the same as the first, but with a different location and terrorists, but it still fits in as a kick ass movie.  Any action fan will be saying “Yippie Kayay, Mister Falcon” after watching the TV edited version.

4: Batman Returns – Michael Keaton suits up for the second time as the Dark Knight in this slightly campy, but dark movie.  When better to fight the Penguin and kiss Catwoman under the mistletoe, than during the holidays.

5: Gremlins – For the horror fan.  Okay, it’s not super horror because it’s got that cute little Gizmo, but it falls into the scary category, and will never get old despite the practical effects.  Just don’t eat popcorn after midnight if you’re still up watching it.

6: Rocky 4 – Stallone brings in another emotion grabbing chapter of the Philadelphia boxing franchise.  This time you get to watch as faces off against Dolph Lundgren.  Make sure to have your presents wrapped in time though or Ivan “Must break you.”

img_71237: Trading Places – Ah, Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd  at their finest.  Comedy used to be so witty and smart instead of over the top shock humor.  This is no exception to the intelligence behind the writing.  I wish I could switch places with a millionaire for a day (at least my bank account does).

8: Lethal Weapon – What?  You think I’d put Die Hard in here and not Lethal Weapon?  Please.  This may actually be my favorite non-Christmas Christmas movie of all time.  Every time I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” I immediately think of the opening scene to this great action movie.

9: Friday After Next – As a huge fan of the Friday movies (yes I can actually quote most of the first movie), I feel the need to go back and watch this one.  All I remember is that it involved Ice Cube hunting down a thief who was dressed as Santa.  This makes me still hold out hope for a “Final Friday” sequel.

10: Nightmare Before Christmas – I struggled with putting this one in here as it technically can be a Christmas movie, but in reality it revolves mostly around the characters from Halloweentown, so While Jack Skellington may be trying to take Santa’s place, he will always in my mind be someone who belongs in the month of October.

11: Ironman 3 – There are many things wrong with this movie, but the few things it got right make me enjoy rewatching it on occasion.  Plus it takes place during the holidays, so you have to love seeing Tony Stark get the best gift of all… the hole in his chest repaired.

12: Just Friends – This is probably one of the most underrated Ryan Reynolds movies ever, but I don’t get the distaste for it.  It’s a funny movie about a kid who was not everyone’s picture perfect person, who grew up to prove them all wrong.

starwars* (Runner up) – Star Wars Holiday Special – This didn’t make the list of 12 because well, it never came out in the theater, and George Lucas still denies its existence to a certain level.  But what we have here is a classic WTF moment in film making.  Okay it was a TV special, but who cares.  It was the first Star Wars show during Christmas time, and man is it terrible.  If you’re a fan of Star Wars, then you MUST give it a watch, or at least try to.  The original cast reprise their roles in a thin plot with bad everything.  I mean beyond bad.  So bad it’s good?  No!  It’s very very bad.  But you HAVE to watch it at least once to get an idea for how bad it is.  It’s like George Lucas is Santa Clause and he crapped coal into your VCR while you were amped to tape this from TV when it aired.

There you have it!  My list for the 12 days.  What are some of your favorites?  Do you have any non-Christmas holiday movies that you think should be on this list?  Comment below.


Review: DC on TV Fall 2016

I feel like I have to review all of these shows in one article, as they co-exist in the same universe.  Notice I kept Gotham separate, because it’s its own entity.  This will cover the first half of Supergirl Season 2, The Flash Season 3, Arrow Season 5, & Legends of Tomorrow Season 2.  This brings everything up to the winter finales of these shows, so I’ll review the latter halves later. There will be spoilers, so if you’d like my full review without those, then scroll down to the last paragraph of each section to get my ratings.

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First up….

SUPERGIRL SEASON 2 PART 1:

Kara / Supergirl is easily the strong point of this show.  Her and Martian Manhunter are what really makes it fun to watch.

Sadly Cat Grant has left for at least a little while, but she’s been replaced with a decent interpretation of Snapper Carr.  He adds a little more to the dynamic.

Miss Tessmacher and The President (played by Lynda Carter) were fun little throw backs to the Superman and Wonder Woman movies and show.  Plus we got a little Batman reference in there as well.

Superman was a very pleasant addition, and though I didn’t feel the actor quite had the look down, we ended up with arguably the best interpretation of Superman for the fans.  He was a cross between Chris Reeve and Tom Welling’s portrayals in their best moments.  Hopefully he’ll return for more.

Miss Martian and Mon-El are welcome additions though they are likeable to the point of making me wonder who they are going to turn bad or kill first.  Still each scene is done well with these two, and their origin stories are pretty close to the comic versions.

Scorch, Roulette, and Parasite were done very well with the latter two easily being the highlights.  Even though Parasite’s history was altered, I can’t tell you how excited I was to see a good version of him on screen.  Of course then they killed him off, so that’s a bit upsetting.

Jimmy /Guardian & Wynn – having James take on the role of Guardian was initially upsetting to me.  After it played out a bit I realized that he’s better off in this role.  Let’s face it… this isn’t the Jimmy Olsen we know and love.  He fits in the Guardian shoes better.  Wynn works well as a compliment here, so all I’d like to say is I hope they add some color to his outfit to reflect the comic counterpart well.  I am eager to see how Supergirl will take the news of these two working behind her back.

Lena Luthor – Something makes me want to believe her, but the Luthor name just has me skeptical.  Lena’s presence feels a bit off.  I think Lillian plays a better fitted role as the director of Cadmus, and that should be the focus… not redeeming the company’s name by Lena.

Speaking of Cadmus… we were given two great comic book villains that came off quite differently.  Metallo was perfect in every way, but Cyborg Superman was downright stupid.  First off…. it was stupid to call himself that because he isn’t Superman at all, nor does he have any connection to him in this universe.  Secondly he’s more of a Cyborg Martian at this point than anything else.  I know this is me being nitpicky, but the actor playing Superman could have easily done this as the real Cyborg Superman and it’d have been much better.  OR they could have turned Mon-El into him. Instead we were left with a pretty lame take on the character.

And finally we get to the part that makes me cringe.  When Maggie Sawyer stepped onto the scene I was excited.  I love her in the comics.  Her sexual preference doesn’t feel forced in the comic pages, and it really doesn’t here either.  My problem isn’t with Maggie.  It’s with Alex Danvers.  Her coming out wasn’t handled well at all.  Instead we got 5 episodes of her realizing she was gay, having very uncomfortable dialogue (it would have been uncomfortable were she straight too), and a drawn out forced plot line that fell short.  What does this mean?  It means the writers saw an opportunity to introduce a gay character, but didn’t take time to flesh out the scenes.  Instead of a natural flow we get a very forced, and very bad dialogued few scenes that are almost unwatchable.  I’m glad she’s found her true feelings, but the constant focus on this is too much.  It should only be a minor side thing, and not a primary focus.  This is SUPERGIRL after all.

Despite the villains being high points, and the appearance of Superman, this season has so far been bad.  I feel as though they didn’t take time to develop anything, and are just throwing characters and situations in without giving the viewer time to understand or adjust to what’s going on.  So far this season gets 2 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  Let’s hope when it returns on January 16th they get their heads on straight and deliver some really fun and good writing.

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THE FLASH SEASON 3 PART 1

The Flash (Barry Allen) is struggling this season with his decisions to alter the past.  By creating Flashpoint, he managed to really screw things up for everyone.  What I don’t understand is everyone being pissed at him, but we will get into that down bottom during the crossover event.  Grant Gustin continues to shine in the role.

Iris & Joe – Sometimes feel out of place, but they are necessary over all.  I love their presence here, so while it isn’t always written well, they make up for it in their delivery and support of Barry.

Jay Garrick / Flash, Wally West / Kid Flash, and Jesse Quick in no way feel like they are overshadowing Barry.  They work well as compliments to him.  To me however, I want to constantly see Jay Garrick.  John Wesley Shipp is the flash I grew up with and the cameo of “his” earth’s Trickster (Mark Hamill) was really fun to see.  He’s playing Jay the way he played Barry back in the day, so for fans of the old series this is a very pleasing thing to see.  I can’t get enough Jay Garrick in this show.

The Rival, Magenta, Top, Reverse Flash, and Alchemy were good villains for an episode or two.  Though the Rival’s costume reminded me of Bale’s Batman, I still liked the villain he played.  My favorites so far are Mirror Master and Shade.  The first of those two should really have had some closer costume to his comic book one, but I’m glad to have finally see him debut.  Although Shade was a bit underwhelming, he was always a character I liked, so performance didn’t matter because the threat was there.

Killer Frost and Vibe – are now direct results of Barry’s altering of the timeline.  I love the slow shift of Kaitlyn into her evil half, but am a little upset at how much of a dick Cisco has become.  I understand him being upset at his brother’s death, but he was the comic relief on the show, and now we’ve barely got that.  It leaves us with a very serious season, that is great for story, but brings the tone too close to that of Arrow (which is meant to be that way).

Savitar is finally an interesting villain, but he looks like a Transformer.  I’m not sure why only Barry can see him, but perhaps its the speed his molecules vibrate at that makes this possible.  Will we find out if he really is a god like he says?  Time will tell.

Overall this season has become too dark.  It’s not bad at all and the additions were done well on the hero and villain side.  Flashpoint was touched upon in a way that worked nicely, but I hope we get some more lighthearted moments back for the second half of the season in January.  I give Season 3 part 1 a 4 out of 5 sCrypt rating.

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ARROW SEASON 5 PART 1

Let’s start with Green Arrow, Diggle, Felicity, and Speedy.  These staples in the series remain the way they have been with not much change to them.  From acting to character arcs I find them at times annoying, but overall enjoyable.  It is Quentin Lance that bothers me.  Grow up, man.  I get it.  You’re heart broken and on multiple levels, but the city can use you and that is a way to distract you from it.  The drunk issue is a real issue, but we can move on from that.  Plus how much longer is Oliver going to be able to have dual roles of Mayor and Green Arrow?  When does he sleep?  Oh, and Thea just decides during Invasion that she’s in?  WTF?  You’ll fight aliens, but not save your city?  Seems like they just wanted to throw her in there. (Still it was nice to see her back in action).

The new team is a mess. Wild Dog is nothing but a thug who doesn’t care for the rules.  How many times does this guy have to screw up?  Mr. Terrific needs to be more like his comic counterpart.  Instead, he feels like he’s just shoved in there to be another character.  Don’t get me wrong… I love what they are doing with Curtis, but as Mr. Terrific I don’t buy it.  Artemis?  Well who didn’t see that coming?  I only wish they’d have used Sportsmaster (since he’s her dad) instead of Prometheus for her betrayal twist.  Finally Ragman.  While I love that he’s on the team, I also hate it.  It’s almost like he could do it all himself because of his powers.  Why wouldn’t he have been more of a help during Invasion?  There’s just many plot holes with these characters because we were bombarded with them all at once.

Adrian Chase / Vigilante – is not quite like the comic version, and to be honest, I’m not sure I like him either.  So far he’s just someone who kills anybody in his way.  I mean he tried to murder team Arrow even though he knew they were doing the right thing.  The guy is a nutcase that makes all gun owners look bad.

On another note, Christopher Chance aka Human Target, was awesome!  He was used perfectly, and with no fanfare. I hope we see him again at some point.

Anatoli is the KG Beast in the comics.  He’s less of that and more of a mob boss here.  This is neither a good nor a bad thing, as the actor does well.

If anything, the awesome cameo from Dolph Lundgren should have been in the KG Beast role.  I was waiting for him to whip out some Rocky 4 lines, but for a role on TV, I have to admit, this was some of Dolph’s best acting so far.

Tobias Church was an intimidating villain who seemed to be too easy a pickoff when Prometheus was done with him, but the latter character gives me mixed feelings.  I don’t like the costume or the rehashed feel of this season, but I love that it all ties back to season 1 here.

Black Canary is back!?  Is this a result of Flashpoint somehow or the time travel in the Invasion episode?  Who knows?  But I really don’t care!  I Love that Laurel is back, and she better stay that way.

All in all this season is shaping up to be mediocre.  It’s better than the last season, but feels rushed at points.  I am eager to see where it all leads, and for the first time in the history of the show I want to know how it will affect everything.  I feel like there is way more on the line, other than crazy villain trying to destroy a city.  It’s a breath of fresh air in most places, while still stale in others.  Arrow Season 5 Part 1 gets 2.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings from me.

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LEGENDS OF TOMORROW SEASON 2 PART 1

Firestorm finally has an interesting turmoil plot point where Stein is dealing with the existence of a daughter that initially wasn’t there.

Atom is all over the place.  First he’s Iron Man, then he’s a brief Captain Cold replacement, then he’s got a suit again, but there is hope… He mentioned that he needs to update the suit, so maybe we will be getting a more Atom appropriate costume soon.

White Canary must have every STD ever known because she just sleeps with every woman she meets in history, instead of focusing on her being the new leader of the team.

Heatwave is perfect the way he is, and always has been the stronger point of this show.

Both newcomers Vixen and Citizen Steel have been given interesting stories and their substance hashed out well.  If anything I enjoy this show for these two the most.

Rip Hunter just up and left?  WTF?  And to top it off now he seems to be just a movie producer?  It makes little sense at this point, but hopefully we get some resolution as to why he left in the first place, and why he has no recollection as a time master.

The Justice Society of America was placed well with decent representations of Commander Steel, Stargirl, Obsidian, Dr. Midnight, and Hourman.  Likewise was the utilization and return of Jonah Hex done well.

Damien Dahrk and the Reverse Flash are interesting villains in this.  With Dark Archer/Malcom Merlyn coming on board, it’s bound to be not just a legenday hero team up, but also a villain team up.  Throw in Captain Cold, and have Rory betray the team, and we’ll have a Legion of Doom that will be way better than the heroes they are facing.

Captain Nazi Baron Krieger and Quentin Turnbull were nice comic book cameo villains.  The zombies and historical figures were a welcome addition too, but I sometimes feel like this show only has to do with time travel so that they can throw stuff like that in there.  It’s called subpar writing, something DC struggles with recently.

In all I am enjoying Legends much more this season than the previous one.  It’s a little more developed.  While it shines in some areas, it’s still lackluster in others.  I think with the Legion coming on that it will become much more interesting the rest of the season.  I’ll give Season 2 Part 1 of Legends Of Tomorrow 3 out of 5 sCrypt logos.

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The 4 part crossover “Invasion”

I wanted to include this as a separate entity because it really remains a standalone miniseries without affecting much of the main shows’ content.

Invasion was a lot of fun.  Supergirl’s episode was really only a stepping stone.  Arrow’s 100th episode was filled with cameos.  Flash’s episode was filled with everyone hating on Barry.  And Legends’ episode was downright kick ass.

I have to address two major problems with this whole thing.  1) They are not the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, that’s the Avengers, but even if that wasn’t an already taken tagline, they still aren’t.  A true crossover of this scale would have brought Superman & Martian Manhunter to fight against the Dominators.

The Dominator storyline was actually a bit interesting, and the CGI was good in most parts.  My second complaint isn’t with that though.  It’s with time travel.  Everyone is blaming Barry for everything, yet these idiots in Legends are traveling through time every week and killing countless people in history.  How is their tampering not having ramifications?  Even Vibe said he felt guilty realizing he changed the past a little.  But this whole future Barry sending a message back to blame himself is BS.  If anyone’s to blame for screwing up the timeline while trying to protect it, it’s the Legends.  Every. Single. One of Them.

It was a kickass team up though, and I think handled better in the future (pun intended), that they can get rid of the problems I had with it.  On a side note that doesn’t affect my rating.  Don’t they all look like a bunch of cosplayers above?  Just saying.  🙂

Invasion gets 3 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  So what did you think of the 4 shows and the crossover?  Chime in with your comments below.


Review: Agents of SHIELD Ghost Rider S4Pt1

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Francisco Francavilla’s Ghost Rider promo art.

Season 4 Part 1 of Agents of SHIELD focuses on Ghost Rider, and it made me enjoy a take I wasn’t sure about.  Read my spoiler filled review of the first half of this season.  If you don’t want spoilers, then scroll to the bottom paragraph for my rating.

 

The Agents: We are getting more of the same here with slightly adjusted roles, but they are less of a focus this season, and seem more of a supporting cast to those with powers.

Robbie Reyes / Ghost Rider – let’s get this out of the way now.  I never thought I’d like the Robbie Reyes version.  I grew up on Dan Ketch and Johnny Blaze.  I was completely unfamiliar with him except I knew he had a cool car.  That being said, Robbie’s Ghost Rider is the best thing about this show so far.  His origin even brought in who we can only assume by his attire and motorcycle is Johnny Blaze’s Ghost Rider.  And he gets a face to face with the demon itself.  Mac gained the GR abilities briefly making us really see how desperate this demon is.  While we’ve seen his story end in SHIELD’s current season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back soon or get the rumored spinoff.  Either way we know there’s more to come.

Gabe Reyes – Unlike his brother, Gabe’s role was only supporting to serve for an origin story.  At times it felt like the actor was merely present on set, but there wasn’t much more for him to do.  It was wise to work it the way that they did.

Yo-Yo / Slingshot – While she took a slight backseat role this season, they used her when it was necessary.  She even pulled a cool Quicksilver moment, and is now getting a 6 episode mini-series on the web.  What was initially to me an unknown character, I feel has become a staple in the show.

Dr. Radcliffe and AIDA – I was worried that they were going to pull another Ultron event, but the creators are handling this quite well.  AIDA has already replaced May with a Life Model Decoy (LMD), so it begs to question how she did it, and what’s her motive?  We still have yet to find out if she’s going to help or hinder everything, but this will be the focus of the second half of the season.

Jeffrey Mace – Known as the Patriot (and one time replacement Captain America for Steve Rogers) his timing couldn’t have been more appropriate.  Now that Steve is no longer Cap, it’ll be interesting to see where they take this Inhuman.  In the comics he didn’t have powers, but his enhanced strength and athletic abilities here make sense as an addition.  We could very well see him suit up as Cap or at the least, the Patriot.  What are his motives though?  He’s done good, but also shady things.

Quake / Daisy – While I enjoyed her being a vigilante I was getting sick of her arms constantly breaking.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think this was a good story element, but it made no sense that she had shattered arms, yet she was still fighting without any issue.  She should have been an invalid for the most part based on the description of what was happening to her with every use of her powers.  Now that she’s back as an agent of SHIELD, we don’t have to worry about it, but it still feels like a weak plot point.

Eli Morrow / Darkhold – For a very small villain, he played a very intimidating role.  This half of the season presented us with a threat that seemed to put everything on the line.  We haven’t truly had that before, so despite his lack of grandeur, Eli was a great antagonist (as well as the ghosts of Darkhold and their link to the afterlife).

Agents of SHIELD Ghost Rider started season 6 off with a bang, and ended it on a high note.  When it returns next year I hope to see it continue on this high note.  For this part I give it 4 out of 5 sCrypt logos as my rating.  What did you think?  As always it’s open for discussion.


Review: Once Upon A Time Season 6 part 1

once_upon_a_time_season_6Well the winter finale has happened, so how is this season shaping up so far?  Last year we were left with a mostly unwatchable series, but now we seem to be going back to what originally made this show great.  Below will be spoilers, so be warned.  If you want my rating without the spoilery material, then scroll down to the last paragraph.

The Snow White family: Snow White, Prince Charming, Emma, and Henry are exactly what they started out as.  Henry’s holding everything together, Emma is doubting herself, Snow and the Prince are acting like real leaders.  My question is what happened to their other baby?  Has he been written out of the show?  This seems like a plot point that needs to be addressed.  Other than that, I have no complaints so far.  Even the return of the sleeping curse (with a major twist) was very creative.

Regina vs The Evil Queen and where the Wicked Witch lies: This just reminds me how much I missed the Evil Queen.  I love Regina as a good guy, but she’s so much better when she’s bad.  I’m not sure I like the dynamic between her and Rumple, but it doesn’t take away from anything.  Zelena is always better showing her wicked side, and we’ve gotten away from that a bit, but it’s starting to return, which I love.

Captain Hook and Nemo – Hook has proven to be quite the hero all around.  Even his past seems to haunt him in ways I didn’t think possible.  The 20,000 Leagues under the sea episode was one of my favorite this season.  It proved Hook can be like a father to Henry, and leaves me with no doubt that he has good intentions.

Belle and the Beast: Rumplestiltskin proves to be a thorn in his own side.  As evil as he is, he still doesn’t seem like the threat he used to be.  Instead of everyone fearing him, it is really Belle who does for their baby.  Rumple is a beast to himself more than anything and causes much of his own sorrow.  I want the secure beast to return and be the ultimate bad with his ways.  Otherwise the portrayal falls a little flat for me at times.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – What a twist!  I had no idea the roles would be reversed, but they did it in traditional Once Upon a Time fashion.  They were a short lived arc, but given just the right amount of time.

Aladdin, Jasmine, & Jafaar – Even Iago the parrot got his little cameo this time.  Jafaar has been recast since Wonderland, but the transition was smooth.  I only question when this happens in the timeline.  Since Wonderland a few seasons ago seemed off time wise, it makes for confusion for long time fans.  Aside from that, I like how they told the story of these three, and look forward to more.  There were nods to the late Robin Williams (who played the Genie in the animated film), and to Abu the monkey.  I think Aladdin deciding to put on the cuffs and becoming the next Genie was an interesting approach.

Morpheus: He appears in a dream to Rumple and Belle as their unborn son.  It was a small nod to the Greek leftovers from last season, but it didn’t feel forced or out of place any of the times he was there.

The Count Of Monte Cristo – This was the first episode in a few seasons that had me feeling refreshed.  It finally focused on something new, and added to the already great arc of Jekyll and Hyde.  It may have been a one timer, but the land of untold stories is great source material for many one shots.

The return of Cinderella, Dr. Frankenstein, & Jiminy Cricket – Ella’s back story was a great episode, and finally answered some things that were left hanging since the first season.  The Cricket and Doctor have supporting roles, but I’m happy to have them back, since they’ve been virtually missing since 2 seasons ago.

The Woodcutter (Huntsman) – A small villain role that served as a very interesting addition to a crowded snow white back story.  It shoehorned in nicely as filler material to the main couple’s true love.

The Black Fairy and Blue Fairy – I always enjoy the Blue fairy, but the addition and identity of the Black Fairy was decent.  It shows that Gold has ancestry of an evil entity, and this contributes to why he is the way he is.

The Mirror and the Dragon – If you missed earlier seasons, it is implied that the Dragon is Mushu from Mulan.  The episode with the Mirror trapping, and how the original entity was trying to escape took us to another dimension entirely.  It also showed the power that the evil Queen really does hold.

The Wish Realm, and the return of a hero? – Emma and Regina are trapped in an alternate world where Emma was never the savior.  It took some convincing, but as they are ready to return, Robin Hood arrives.  In this universe he never died, which leaves us waiting until March to see what will happen.  With Emma and Regina trapped away from Storybrooke, how will the real world get through it all?

In conclusion, Once Upon a Time Season 6 part 1 has utilized some of the old, and brought in some untold stories anew.  The potential for this show could continue for years, and I’d like to see that happen if they keep on this route.  I’m sad that I have to wait until March to find out what happens, but at the same time I feel the break is needed to keep the show going like this.  Dare I say season 6 could be the best season yet?  Yes.  I dare to.  If you haven’t watched in a while, then you should tune back in, and if you never have watched, then now is the time to.  Cheers to the writers this season.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.