The works of Award winning author, Rick Pipito, and more

Posts tagged “Ghost Rider

Review: Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD ssn 4

Agents_of_S_H_I_E_L_D__season_4_posterMy season end reviews kick off with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD season 4.  I did a review mid season, so I won’t get into too much detail other than a few minor spoilery things, and general thoughts.

Overall, this season was superb.  The writing strayed from campiness and into darker territory.  While this can be a curse for a lot of shows or movies, the darkness worked here because of Ghost Rider’s inclusion and the Dark Hold.  Both were handled very well.

The second half of the season gave us an alternate “What If” world created by AIDA.  Her role as Madame Hydra was surprising, but also a welcome addition to the plot.  Usually I’m not for the combination of characters, but in this case it was handled well.  The emotional buildup especially with Mack and the loss of The Patriot, gave the show a more realistic feel.

It’ll be interesting to see where it all leads next season.  There’s Mack and Yo-Yo who will obviously be in a strained relationship, but they aren’t the only ones.  Fitz and Simmons have an interesting new dynamic with Fitz’s dark side having affected everyone, and Coulson and May also have some places to go.

We are left wondering a few things: 1) Where are they at the end?  Is this a SWORD installation in space?  2) With the Inhumans on the run again, will this be how they introduce the new Inhumans show?  I’d like to see Daisy make an appearance somehow.  3) Where did Ghost Rider go exactly?  and finally 4) Who will be the big bad of season 5?

Time will tell.  From what was once a cringeable series, it has now become something I look forward to.  It’s not quite up there with Netflix shows, but that’s to be expected.  Season 4 gets 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings from me.

What did you think?  Comment below with your thoughts and speculation.

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Review: Agents of SHIELD Ghost Rider S4Pt1

francesco_francavilla_ghost_rider_poster

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.


Poll: Demons

etriganIt’s time for another comic book crossover battle, and for this installment, we will travel (once again) to the very bowels of hell and back.  In a prior match up, we saw the devil himself fighting for each comic book company, but today we will take demon spawns and pit them in the arena.  By demons spawns of course, I mean that they are part demon and part human, or at least residing in the human world alongside us.  DC comics presents Etrigan, Marvel comics sends Ghost Rider, sCrypt Comics has Satan, Image is well known for Spawn, Dante springs to action for Capcom, Hellboy is presented by Darkhorse Comics, Scorpion teleports in for Midway, and IDW’s Ghostbusters series shows us Zuul.  Check out the contestants’ brief bios and vote in our poll below.  If you feel there is another good choice, then please ghost-rider-covercadd them to the list in the comments section and vote “other”.

Etrigan is a demon bound to the knight, Jason Blood.  Once the incantation is recited, then gone is the form of man, replaced by the demon Etrigan’s form.  The demon is forced to speak in rhyme and is under the will of Jason Blood, therefore working as a force for good.  Blood is a trained combatant, with an extraordinary sword wielding skill.  The Demon has enhanced strength and healing, is an expert in sorcery and mystic bolts, and has some telepathy in his arsenal of abilities.  Etrigan first appeared in DC Comics’ The Demon #1 in 1972.

There have been many Ghost Rider’s throughout history, and all have exhibited mostly the same abilities.  The demon Zarathos bonds himself to the soul of the next chosen rider.  The fallen angel is then willed by the soul of the new rider.  Once the chosen soul becomes ghost rider, their appearance changes into that of a flaming skeleton.  Using chains embued with hellfire, and the ability to manipulate hellfire, these are only his first line of defense.  The Penance stare is his deadliest ability which makes the victim of the stare feel the pain and sin that they’ve caused others.  The rider tends to ride a flaming motorcycle, but has elected other vehicles as well.  A Hellfire shotgun has been used as satan from "Devil's Dessert" - art by Sakura Joneswell, especially in the Johnny Blaze version.  In Dan Ketch’s role as the rider, he has the will to change whenever needed, but initially only came when innocent blood was spilled.  Ghost Rider first appeared in Marvel Comics’ Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1972.

Satan is thought by many to be THE devil, but he is only a general in his army.  He represents the demon of anger and hatred.  In his true form, he is very much the way people have perceived, but his secondary form is that of a human guise.  As this false human, he owns a tattoo parlor where his many piercings, filed teeth, and tattoos are intimidating to any normal passerby.  When Taylor Bryant, an ex-con with a violent past, gives in to his anger, he and Satan merge.  Now in the form of a large, African American man, Satan joins his brother and sister demons in order to pave way for the arrival of the true face of darkness.  Satan first appears in the 2013 novel, “Devil’s Dessert” by Rick Pipito.

Spawn

Because of his life as an assassin for the U.S. government, Al Simmons was sent to hell upon his death.  He made a deal with Malebogia (the devil) to come back and see his wife one last time.  The deal was not exactly what he expected.  Now a hell spawn, Simmons vows to destroy the legions of hell with all his might.  His body is made of necroplasm, which enables him enhanced abilities, strength and healing.  His cape, spikes and chains act as extensions of his body, and must replenish his dark energies by feeding on the dark energy of evil.  He frequently uses military grade weaponry so that he doesn’t drain his necroplasm too quickly.  There have been many Spawns through history, but none as prominent as Simmons.  Spawn first appeared in Image comics’ Malibu Sun #13 in 1992.

Dante was raised by his human mother after his demon father’s death.  Once his mother was killed, Dante vowed to hunt demons for the rest of his life.  His physical abilities far exceed that of a normal man’s, including flight, and he uses these enhanced traits alongside his dante“Ebony and Ivory” dual pistols that never need to be reloaded, as well other blades and firearms forged by his father.  Dante first appeared in Capcom’s Devil May Cry in 2001.

The offspring of a demon and a witch, Hellboy was raised by the United States Army and has lived as a force of good amongst humans since the second World War.  He works as an agent for a special group within the Bureau, and investigates paranormal activities.  Aside from superhuman strength, healing and endurance, he carries a utility belt of sorts with military weaponry, as well as his deformed, right hand of doom.  Hellboy first appeared in Dark Horse’s San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 in 1993.

Ninja, Hanzo Hasashi, was murdered at the hands of his bitter rival, and brought back from the Netherrealm as one of the dead’s demons.  This revenant covers his skull face in his yellow ninja garb, and has not only kept his highly trained combat technique, but has also Hellboy 2gained the ability to conjure fire.  From the palm of his hand he can also project a sentient spear to pierce an enemy and drawn them to him.  Even death cannot keep Scorpion at bay.  He first appeared in Midway’s Mortal Kombat in 1992.

Zuul is a demon demigod known as the Gatekeeper to Gozer.  The demon takes control of Dana Barrett in an attempt to bring about the Destructor.  She has the ability to hover in midair, and once scorpiontransformed into the Hell Hound form, she has horns, claws and fangs, as well as other unknown abilities.  Zuul represents IDW comics, but first appeared in Ghostbusters the movie in 1984.

zuul_by_baron_von_jello-d4nfa33Cast your vote below (click on the link) for your favorite “demon among us”, and feel free to add your own.  Results coming in a few weeks.

Which demon reigns on Earth?

 


Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance: Nailed it? or nail in the coffin?

Review of Ghost Rider 2: Spirit Of Vengeance by Rick Pipito and Dan Pipito

First off let us say this before you go see it (and we think you should)… We are not “Marvelites” as some fans are dubbed.  Sure we love Marvel comics, but also love DC and many others just as equally.  In other words, we gave this an unbiased review in terms of comic book companies.  Now, things you need to do before seeing Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance:

1) Don’t pay for the 3D because it isn’t worth the extra money

2) Realize that this is from the guys who directed the Crank movies (Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine), so don’t expect Oscar material

3) Nicholas Cage may have made some horrible choices and seems to be losing it, but at one time he was a decent actor, so there still is some of that inside him.

4) Ignore all reviews you see if they do nothing but tear this movie apart.  Sure this is our opinion as well, and you should treat it as such, but there are so many things against this movie that it isn’t being given a fair shot.

Okay with that being said, here we go.  Us owners of sCrypt Comics have drawn inspiration from a lot of things we were fans with growing up.  We both loved the Ghost Rider character.  Sure, we grew up with the Dan Ketch version, but still knew enough about Johnny Blaze to be excited about seeing any kind of screen time for the character (even when he showed up in the 1990s animated X-men series for a three second cameo, we were happy.)  BTW YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.  SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!

Here’s the BAD:

1) The 3D was almost so non existent that the glasses had to be removed at times so that you could see if it really was a 3D movie.

2) There was a scene where Ghost Rider is hit by a grenade and wakes up as Johnny Blaze in tons of pain in the hospital.  First he robs the hospital of prescription pain killers and then downs them like they are Pez candies.  This is a PG-13 movie.  Not to get preachy because I’m not, but is this really a good message to be sending out to younger people?  The hero of a movie is a thief, and a pill popper and a bad one at that.  Done preachiness.  The even bigger problem is that the next time he is Ghost Rider, he is hit by ten times the explosive power of that one grenade and it only throws him around.  Bad writing guys.

3) Since when did Ghost Rider become a snake?  Nicholas Cage admitted that when he was GR, he based his movements on those of his pet snake.  It just looked awkward to say the least.  Actually it was uncomfortable to watch.  It was almost as uncomfortable as watching a porno movie with your parents in the room.

4) The action… Where there was still plenty of action, there were places in the movie when there just seemed like a lot of dead space.

5) Campiness was abound.  It was not as serious as a Ghost Rider movie should be expected to be.  Some of the jokes worked well, but there were a few things that were a little over the top.

6) Johnny Cage transforming into Ghost Rider didn’t look as it did in the comics.  It still looked cool, but it just wasn’t what we wanted it to be.

7) The ending…  I really expected something more at the end.  I can imagine what that ending meant, but what if I’m wrong?  There is no way to tell unless a sequel is made.  And really?  The final line in the movie is Johnny Blaze yelling “Hell yeah!”

8) Nicholas Cage’s voice over in the beginning is horrible.  It makes you believe that the whole movie is going to suck right off the bat.  It isn’t the dialogue as much as it is the delivery, but it is definitely a factor of the two.

Now for the Good things about the movie:

1) The special effects were outstanding.  Ghost Rider looked down right scary as hell.  Blackout’s powers were eerie and effective, and the overall flames effects were amazing.

2) It really made up for the bad things from the first one.  There was less crummy dialogue (though it still existed to an extent).

3) People have been ripping on a scene that involves Ghost Rider pissing fire.  If you pay attention to the movie, this scene is not really happening.  It is what Danny is picturing in his mind.  Johnny Blaze was trying to be entertaining for the kid.  It showed the father figure that Blaze was becoming.

4) Ghost Rider getting hurt was cool to watch.  His flames would begin to extinguish, showing how even demons are not invincible.

5) They explained the spirit inside Ghost Rider.  The whole origin of who Zarathos (this spirit) was.

6) The intermission scenes were animated in a digital watercolor style.  As people who appreciate art, it was cool to see these comic booky scenes in the movie.

7) They weren’t afraid to put religion into it.  Ghost Rider comics often mentioned God.  A lot of people frown upon faith in today’s day and age because they claim it is politically incorrect.  This movie fit it in briefly, and did it tastefully and well.

8) The Hell fire within Ghost Rider killed over fifty people.  It wasn’t gruesome, but lots of people turned to ash.

9) Ghost Rider’s voice was so much better than the first movie.  It was really only a whisper this time, but it was menacing and made you feel like he really was a spirit.  It added to the eeriness.

10) The movie started out with a bang and had us on the edge of our seats, assuring us this was going to be good.  Then of course voice dialogue came in (see above for our thoughts on that).

And finally, the character breakdown:

Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider: We loved how Blaze screamed while transforming.  It is even said in the movie that Zarathos was an angel that went insane.  Nic Cage portrayed this well (maybe because he is a little nuts himself).  At times though Blaze didn’t seem like the suave character he was from the first one, and Ghost Rider seemed lost in some scenes as he stared into space.  Overall, the combination of the two was better than we expected it to be.

Ray Carrigan / Blackout: Carrigan was more of a thug, but with a purpose.  He was a typical cold villain that was perfect for the part.  When he dies and is transformed into Blackout, his display of powers was great each time.  The down side is that he seemed like more of a background character than a main villain.  We would have liked to have seen his role and the roll of the devil switched.

Roarke / The Devil: Ciaran Hinds has the perfect menacing and evil look to play this part.  We would have liked for Peter Fonda to return as Mephisto, but it is even explained that the devil goes by all kinds of names and appearances, so his placing was done well.  The down side is that he just seemed a little too predictable.

Moreau: It was sad to see Idris Elba’s character die in the end, but this actor is absolutely amazing.  The character was the voice of reason, and he had a human side as well.  We are just wondering how many times Idris Elba can exist in the Marvel Universe (he was Heimdall in Thor, Moreau in GRSOV, and is rumored for Black Panther and Power Man in future movies).  Any way you deal it Marvel can bring him back as much as they want and we’ll be happy.

Danny: Is this Dan Ketch?  We like to think so.  We don’t know why they would leave out his last name, but it sure as hell looked like he was going to be the next Ghost Rider.  The young actor that played him did very well and was convincing in the roll.

Methodius: Christopher Lambert makes us cringe sometimes when he comes on screen in a movie (sort of like Nicholas Cage).  You never know what you will get with him, but he did a great job in his short roll here.  The monks had a small but important roll in the film.

Nadya: She may not have been the best mother with her choices, but she was the perfect eye candy for this movie, plus she was a little bit of a badass herself.

All in all, we’d be sad if the first one got a sequel and this one didn’t.  This is a popcorn flick and nothing more.  There were quite a few flaws, but for a movie of its stature, we gave it a 7 out of 10 on the fun scale.  So to answer the question as to whether they nailed it or put the nail in the coffin?  We’d say somewhere in between.  It’s more like they removed the nails from the coffin that had been established from the prior movie, but didn’t completely lift the lid.


Hearts of Darkness

Issue: Ghost Rider / Punisher / Wolverine : Hearts Of Darkness

Published: December 1991 Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Rick Pipito for plot

I chose this issue to review because these are three of my favorite Marvel characters from my youth.  All three have something in common… bad movies (although I really loved the most recent 2 Punisher movies, they got less than perfect reviews).  This issue is short, but shows what the characters are all about.  There are spoilers, so be warned.

It begins with Dan Ketch arriving in a town called “Christ’s Cross”.  He has been contacted by a mystery person to meet at a bed and breakfast.  The B & B is run by a woman who has a young daughter named Lucy.  He settles in and washes up and then arrives in the dining room to eat dinner with the owner and the other two guests (Frank and Logan).  Yes, the three of them are eating an awfully silent dinner together and all are suspicious.  This scene is very good at making the reader feel as though the tension in the room is uncomfortable.

Afterwards, Logan knocks on Frank’s room door to confront him.  The phony mustache that Frank was wearing did not fool Logan’s heightened sense of smell as to who the visitor was.  They realize each other are the Punisher and Wolverine.  They have both been contacted by a mystery man as well.  Okay, this is a little predictable from the get go, but I like how they get right into trying to figure out who it is.

Suddenly, all three are confronted by Blackheart and made an offer.  Their mystery contact has been revealed and he offers them extended power to eliminate his father Mephisto.  Hmmm, make a deal with a devil to take out the devil?  None of them will forfeit their souls to do so.  I like Blackheart’s explanation as to why he chose them.  He knows their emotions won’t get in the way of doing what needs to be done.

Since they won’t cooperate, Blackheart places the entire town in a trance and kidnaps the little girl Lucy.  This is a key issue for the Dan Ketch Ghost Rider.  Until this point he has believed that he needs his motorcycle to transform to the spirit of vengeance.  When the innocents are threatened however, he changes even though Blackheart has stolen his bike.  I love the way John Romita Jr did the art for the transformation.  It is only across three frames, but it is effective.

The trio of heroes pushes past a wall of thorns and demon souls to follow the demon into Hell itself.  There, the dark one attempts to kill the child, but Ghost Rider takes his gloves off.  With flaming fists, he beats Blackheart around and even tears off part of his face.  Wolverine doesn’t do a whole lot more than cutting off the demon’s arm.  The least likely of the heroes who could battle Blackheart then steps in.  Punisher unloads so much ammo into his enemy that he is perforated into pieces and explodes.

A final scene of the three heroes with Lucy is portrayed atop a hill overlooking the town.  Everything has returned to normal and while this is predictable as well, Ghost Rider makes a memorable statement.  “It doesn’t matter if there is an edge or we occasionally cross it.  As long as the innocent are protected our cause is just.”  He puts the Punisher’s motives out of doubt and reassures them all that they are doing the right thing.  It is nice to see the slightly human side to them when they realize that they are so violent in their ways that a demon would actually choose them as his pawns.

Overall, I give this a 7 out of 10.  I enjoyed the story a lot, but would have liked more meat to it.  Everything happened so fast, and I would have been a little better with more content.


Looking back at the first Ghost Rider movie

Since, this past friday marked the theatrical release of its sequel, I decided to rewatch the first movie.  First, let’s state the good things.  Johnny Blaze was not bad.  The dialogue and acting, though not at all the best, was for the most part a good start.  Then Nic Cage became Ghost Rider and the script took a dump.

His dialogue became so cheesy and unbelievable that it was cringe worthy.  With that being said I still enjoyed it for a popcorn flick, but one that I won’t watch again for a very very long time.

I grew up thinking that Ghost Rider was one of the best comic book characters out there.  I loved his story and just saw it as a breath of fresh air.  When I heard that they were making a movie and it was staring a supposed comic book loving actor, I thought they could do no wrong.  Boy was I mistaken.

Aside from the crappy dialogue, the villains in it looked nothing like their comic book versions.  I also did not like the fact that the tires of the motorcycle were melting the ground wherever he drove.  Now let’s get on to the characters.

Johnny Blaze – In the comics he had long blonde hair.  Nic cage has short receding dark hair.  Okay, I can get over that, but the look was already off.  Cage’s acting could have been worse, but for the first half of the movie I felt that he did Johnny Blaze justice in portraying the kind of stunt bike guy he is.  I especially enjoyed the end when he used a shotgun to defeat the main villain.  Blaze in the comics had been known to carry a shotgun that fired hellfire.

Roxanne Simpson – Eva Mendes is gorgeous.  She was one of the good things about the movie, but I feel that they just made her out to be so dumb.  She is a reporter and she puts up with Johnny Blaze’s crap because she just doesn’t get it.  Her dialogue was again, poorly written, but not painful on delivery.

Ghost Rider – The look was good, excellent in fact, and the motorcycle was fantastic.  His voice and CGI were off a little and made him look fake in certain scenes.  I hang my head low in shame even now as I type this.  I will say that the horrible spikes growing from his shoulders and the way the chain was aqcuired was odd, but this is redeemed by the effects of his “Penance Stare”.  The way it was done in the movie could not have been displayed any better.

Mephistopheles – Peter Fonda’s acting was as painful as Cage’s.  He had these occasional “mmmm” sounds he would do that made me wonder if he was passing gas.  In the comics, Mephisto was evil looking.  He looked like Satan with red skin and angular hair.  If they would have made Fonda’s skin red in color, I’d have been satisfied, but like Johnny Blaze’s hair, I can get past this.  I did not like however that when the lightning flashed, it showed his “demon form” briefly.  I didn’t feel that was needed at least with Mephisto.  He did have however the best character development in the movie for what it was.  He still felt evil as well.

The Hidden (Wallow, Gressil, and Abigor) – This group of demons was not something I was familiar with as they were created for the movie.  They were perhaps my favorite part of the film.  The water, earth and air demons looked badass and were exactly what they were meant to be… supporting roles.  Their effects looked good, but I feel as though they were defeated way too easily.  It was as if there was no climax with them.

Blackheart – I am mad at this one.  Blackheart is the son of Mephisto, and while they did not mention that in the movie, they didn’t need to.  He was a rogue general of hell’s army just rebelling against his father.  My problem here is that they got some goth looking guy to play the part.  Blackheart was a black demon that had long porcupine like spikes coming from his head and body.  Even at the end when I expected him to let go of his human form and become what I so wanted to see on the screen, it never happened.  The way he was defeated felt too forced as well.

Carter Slade – Sam Elliot is a good actor, though he didn’t have much to work with here.  I don’t even know what to call him.  They combined two comic book characters into one.  Because of this, I will analyze him in that way.  First up is the Caretaker.  He looked just like the comic counter part with the cowboy appearance and shovel.  He also had the same mentor type roll and guardian of the cemetary mission that I knew him for.  This Caretaker side of him was dead on all around.  Next is Phantom Rider.  He was never called this in the movie, but the name Carter Slade in the comics was the alter ego of Phantom Rider, who was the original old west ghost rider.  I liked the fact that he was in the movie, but he wasn’t needed like this.  The caretaker could have been left the way he was without changing him.  In the comics he was more of a ghost looking rider than a flaming skull ghost rider.

To summarize my review I’ll put it this way.  I accepted the many flaws this movie had.  If I was someone who had no idea what the comic book was like, I think I would have enjoyed it except for the delivery of bad dialogue and anticlimax.  As a fan of Ghost Rider in the comics, I am severely disappointed.  It did have its moments though that made me satisfied for a brief time.  I plan on seeing the sequel this week and will do a review on that as well.  In the meantime I give the first Ghost Rider movie a 4 out of 10.