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  1. [​IMG]



    A game so good where if I even point out a single criticism, I'll be DDOSed and get death threats. YAY!




    It's kind of amazing to me that it's been 6 years since a console Zelda release. Now I know that there have been plenty of handheld releases for the series as well as HD remakes of both Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, but there's nothing quite like a fresh, original Legend of Zelda game coming out. And with it being released as the Wii U's swan song as well as the Switch's premiere launch title, there's a lot riding on this game.



    Not only that, but people are going berserk over this game in both extremes. Some people are calling this game one of the best games of all time, while others become actively violent against any critic that so much as gives it a simple 7/10, like Jim Sterling over on thejimquisition.com whose site was cyber attacked and he's been dragged through the mud by obsessive Zelda fans upset that it's Metascore went from a 98 of near perfection to a 97 of still near perfection. I'll never understand fandoms.



    Like I said in my original review on the Nintendo Switch, I will always call Nintendo out on its mistakes, and I love to do that, but I still genuinely love the company and what they produce, flawed as it may be. Hell, a friend of mine cannot stand them for not growing up, yet still admit that the games are great for their demographic and are technically really good games. The point is is that I call it like I see it, a good game is a good game and a bad game is a bad game.



    As for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I can easily say that it's a great game with a lot of fantastic elements, but is slightly marred by a few tiny aspects. Not enough to actively hurt the game, but to keep it from being the near perfection others claim it is.



    I mean it's still going to get a 5/5, so what the hell is even the point of this review, amiright or amiright?



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    Breath of the Wild's story is good.



    I would say more about the story, but honestly, the story in a Zelda game has never been the most compelling reason for anyone since maybe Majora's Mask or Wind Waker. I know it seems like a weird note to start this review on, but I'd much rather harp on the fact that while the story is very good and has genuine emotion in it, the delivery system for said story is beyond ridiculous.



    In order to unlock cutscenes that explain essential story information, you have to traverse the massive world of Hyrule, which is beyond gargantuan, and find tiny little spots that will show you flashbacks that will, you know, tell the story for the audience. Now the story isn't essential to enjoy the game, but as a man who likes his stories, it is beyond annoying to have to hunt down well done cutscenes by examining a photograph, then trying to find in the several hundred square miles of Hyrule the one location where I can see the cutscene.



    So my biggest gripe aside, it's time to heap praise onto this game like never before because man oh man does this game do a lot right. From the beginning of the game, you're given free reigns to explore the world however you like. The ultimate goal is to defeat Ganon, but you can do a metric ton of things before you even get there. You can start the game, run at him and try and beat him with a stick like I did, or you can actually explore the world and get so lost in it that you'd rather just complete sidequests, cook food, craft items, and just admire the view than save the world.



    Thankfully, none of it is ever boring. I worried that a huge open world would becoming boring to traverse, and while there are definitely lulls in the gameplay between quests, it's still enjoyable just to explore. There are secrets in every nook and cranny of the game and the joy is just being able to explore the world how you want and when you want.



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    For example, when I started the game and swiftly got my ass handed to me by Ganon, I decided that the most important thing I should do was to fight a bunch of enemies and build up my equipment. So I jumped into a herd of enemies and got my ass handed to me because all of them were stronger than I was and my trusty stick couldn't get the job done. But I kept coming back to them with different strategies until they all died, I collected their weapons, then I blazed a trail of glory around Hyrule just exploring and doing things. Oh sure, I would go back to the main quest when I got bored, but that would only be after an hour or so of just wandering around.



    While wandering, it's very possible to encounter places called Shrines, which function as one room dungeons that can be completed for Spirit Orbs, which are the new pieces of heart, and can serve as a warp point for when you want to fast travel. These shrines can range from solving a puzzle to fighting an enemy, but each shrine always felt unique and different. The one problem I had when encountering a shrine was that sometimes the mini dungeons can just be boring to explore. Some puzzles felt like busywork, and that's never a good thing, especially when there are 120 shrines in total.



    But when the shrines were getting on my nerves, I could always just stop and fight a ton of enemies. Combat here is immensely simplified from other Skyward Sword, but it somehow has much more depth than any other game in the franchise. You can hit an enemy, jump out of the way, draw your shield, or shoot an arrow at them, but all of that is now predicated on one new change; customizable equipment.



    You can swap out your equipment on a dime now and change your sword into an ax, a spear, a broadsword, a hammer, or whatever weapon you have on you. Some weapons would be more helpful in fights that others. Is there an enemy out of reach? A spear could get them! Is an enemy made of stone? A good hammer smack should break them! Your equipment does matter a lot in this game, and by the end of the game you'll have a stable cadre of weapons and shields to use. Now granted, it's really annoying when you run out of axes when you're cutting things down, or your last hammer broke while you were mining for ore and you need to find another one, but that's only happened to me maybe once or twice.



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    And yes, I said that your equipment could break. This is probably the most frustrating aspect of the game, but I'll admit that it only bothered me in the beginning of the game. By the time I reached the second major town, I already had a pretty good amount of weapons with modest strength and had my equipment pouches expanded to accommodate for the new cadre of weapons.



    In fact, most of my frustrations with the game melted away by this point. The beginning was hard as all hell, but th egame became much easier as time went on. I had very low health, bad armor, and enemies hit for a ton of damage, but I eventually got weapons and stats that could resist nearly anything. When I got hit by a boss's secret weapon, it only took three hearts away when back in the beginning of the game a simple Bokoblin could take three hearts from me in one hit.



    Bosses are a bit of a tricky subject in this game as well. There are about as many as Majora's Mask and they aren't particularly memorable. They're just monsters that have elemental alignments, but the way you fight them are so innovative and fun. Bosses don't have a weakness to a single item. Instead, you actually need to strategize how to fight them. One boss will hang from the ceiling and shoot tridents and ice at you, so you need to figure out how to get them down to hit them. Another boss has an aura that hurts you if you touch them, so you need to get rid of it before you even have a chance at damaging them.



    What makes all of it work is that you get every ability at the beginning of the game. In the first hour, you get a bow, bombs, ice blocks you can summon, a magnet, and a stasis field that stops a object in your path. Those are all of your abilities, so boss fights and shrines will rely on using these abilities to their full potential. It's so great just to get the full access to your toybox of weaponry from the beginning and just go to town on the world.



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    Which brings me to the best feature of this game; the world itself. Hyrule is a gorgeous landscape with constantly changing weather and NPC's that will have their own lives and schedules. The world truly does feel alive, whether it's scaling an icy peak, sailing across a river, riding a horse on the plains, free climbing up a mountain, or shield surfing down a ridge. And the characters sell the world too. There are plenty of side characters here, and some of them rank up there as being some of my favorite characters in the series. Sidon the Zora prince is great, the Old Man at the beginning of the game was interesting, and Kass the wandering Rito minstrel. I loved plenty of these characters, and I hope that future Zelda games make characters these interesting again.



    So you all know this game is great, I know that this game is great, but is it truly one of the greatest games of all time? Personally, I think it's a damned good game. It's a game that has an incredible amount of detail and sets the bar for not only Nintendo games but for most open world games in general, but it's not the Alpha and the Omega. I loved my time in Hyrule and for Breath of the Wild being my introduction to the Switch, but I can't say that it's the end-all-be-all greatest game ever made. No game is the greatest game ever made because it's all subjective. My favorite game is Banjo Kazooie, but if you were to ask me if it's the greatest game of all time, I'd say no. Greatest by what? Influence on the medium? Sales figures? Good reviews for opinionated critics? Technical achievements? What makes something the best?



    Breath of the Wild is a stunning game whose minor issues are all sorted out one way or another by the end of the game. It's satisfying from start to finish and brought the Zelda series to a whole new level of polish and quality that is going to take a lot to top. Still, you better believe that we have a serious Game of the Year contender on our hands.



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  2. [​IMG]

    It's dark, somber, morose, and left me dead inside. And I loved it.


    First off, can I just say that so far 2017 has just been producing home run after home run for great movies? I mean, It's only the beginning of March, but outside of the obvious dreck that was 50 Shades Darker, I can count way more great movies than bad movies this year.

    Anyway, Logan! So can we be honest and say that there are really only two or three good X-Men movies? I mean, I know that I already have the deck stacked against me when it comes to liking a superhero movie, but no one I've met has ever said to me that they were massive fans of the X-Men franchise. In fact, X-Men has always been one of those franchises that has a great allegory at its core with a cool concept, but has been let down by just mediocre execution. The 90's cartoon? Bored me. The games? Okay at best. The films? Well you either get the fairly good X-Men: First Class, or you get the abysmal and forgettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But there's never been anything that sold me that the franchise and concept could be truly something special.

    It was with that mindset that I sat down to watch Logan, already aware of the damned good trailers advertising this movie. Whenever you get Johnny Cash's "Hurt" for a trailer, you know that the movie is going to be an experience. And lo and behold, we have not only a great swan song for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart's Professor X, but we have most likely one of the best movies of the year.

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    Now normally I would go into a plot summary about the movie, but I'm opting out of it this time because the plot really just boils down to an escort mission. Logan needs to get a girl from Mexico to North Dakota while being hunted by military goons and scientists. It's so simple that I've joked, and righteously so, that this is really just a film adaptation of The Last of Us. A cruel and unfair world where the main character needs to get a girl to a specific location while meeting some fairly hostile people and a few allies? Just give Joel some claws and you'd pretty much have The Last of Us.

    I don't mean that as a bad thing though, because unlike nearly every other superhero blockbuster on the market, there's one huge factor that differs this from any other big action movie; genuine character development. A majority of the movie is spent just watching Logan, Professor X (who is suffering from Alzheimers), and a quiet girl that's actually X-23 (yes I know her name is Laura, but when the trailer goes to show off her claws and fighting abilities, I'll call her by her superhero name to spread awareness of the character, thank you very much) just drive together. We see them go to convenience stores, a casino, a lake, all of the places that you'd expect them to travel to.

    Make no mistake though, this isn't a buddy-comedy, road trip kind of movie. This is a hard R rated movie for a reason. There's profuse cursing. There's incredibly gory decapitations. Hell, even though this doesn't necessarily apply to violence, there's a scene where Professor X just mentally breaks down at the fact that he can no longer truly control his powers, endangering both his friends and loved ones. This is a truly bleak movie. There's hardly any joy here, and the movie is gut wrenchingly effective at making you feel for Logan and what he's going through.

    Wolverine was always a character that I think was a lot less cool than what people made him out to be. Yeah he's had some great stories, but outside of The Wolverine back in 2013, he never really had a chance to shine in the movie. He's a glorified cameo for most of the new X-Men movies, and the original trilogy had him in a featured role, but was usually just dragged out for a couple of cool action scenes. Admit it, you remember Wolverine because of his great action scenes moreso than the actual character, which is perfectly fine, but Logan gives the man both fantastic action scenes and a powerful and effective storyline.

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    Everyone in Logan gives a fantastic performance, make no mistake about it. Patrick Stewart gives the most effective take on Professor X I've ever seen, making him into a tragic character that I felt so much for. X-23 was also a immensely fun character to be around, if only because for a little girl, she was able to kick so much ass and cause probably more damage than Logan does for the entire movie. Even the bit characters are three dimensional, like Caliban, who helps take care of Professor X, and... well that's it really. The film has an incredibly small list of named characters. I mean there are two villains that get named, maybe even three, but they're really only there to provide action scenes in between the drama.

    If I did have one major issue with the film, it's that it's a long sit. Running at over two hours, I felt like checking the time after a certain amount of time. I mean, you can only watch three character drive around for so long, right? But the more I thought about it, the more that I thought that while it is still a bit too long for my taste, that extra time isn't necessarily a bad thing. Is it really a criticism when something you like is too long? I mean yes, it does feel like Logan and Professor X repeat the same scene with each other about four times over the course of the movie, but the rest of the length just served to enhance the tone and the character dynamics.

    Now I'm not going to spoil the ending for anyone reading this because I'm not some horrid monster that likes to intentionally piss people off (I do that with my scores), but the last five minutes of the movie were just beautiful to watch. Powerful, honest, and all around devastating, the ending actually felt like that; an ending. La La Land may have touched me with it's ending and left me in awe of what I saw, but I got the same reaction from Logan... only this time, it was for trying to fight back manly tears. I could feel my heart sink as I saw those last few moments, and this is coming from someone that doesn't care about Wolverine as a character or the X-Men franchise. When you can make a non fan emote for a character they had no interest in two hours ago, then the movie did it's job damned well.

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    What else do you want me to say about Logan? It's a heart breaking, gory, violent thrill ride that left me thinking that it's already one of the front runners for best movie of 2017. Everyone involved in this movie did a fantastic job, and now I'm compelled to replay The Last of Us one more time.

    Also, the Deadpool 2 preview in front of Logan was brilliant and one hell of a good time. I may have been mild about the original Deadpool, but here's hoping to seeing some great comedy now that all of the origin junk has been taken care of.

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  3. [​IMG]

    Eww, I'm back here again? Really? Alright...


    What a world we live in where we can get not one, but two Fifty Shades sequels in our lifetime! Hooray for the human race. Because clearly after the first movie was ravenously seen by millions of sexually deprived housewives as the rest of humanity looked onward at how jaw droppingly awful the original Fifty Shades of Grey was and wept. I mean, when I say that Fant4stic was a better movie than Fifty Shades of Grey, you had to have messed up somewhere on the winding road of life. And now like a venereal disease, it's back again for another painful run.

    I you couldn't understand from that first movie, I had no expectations for Fifty Shades Darker going in to it. I wasn't filled with rage at the fact that I had to go see it, but instead I wanted to see if the team could have made the transition from being an offensively bad movie into a hilariously awful one. I wanted to see this franchise reach the peak of Terribad that Twilight did before it.

    And it kinda of did... then it swerved off into some weird directions... and now I just feel like I just saw through a bad soap opera.

    I mean, it's better than the first movie, there's no doubt about that. I can actually say there's character development here and that the characters go through the simplest definitions of "arcs", but that's about it. It did the bare minimum to still be considered better than an abomination to mankind. It's not the plague, it's just Ebola.

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    Our story continues... some time after the first movie. I say some time because we never learn how long it's been between certain scenes, so for all we know it could have been a day, a week, a month, or a year that Christian Grey has been stalking Anastasia Steele. And yes, he's a stalker. He goes to an art gallery where pictures of her are on display, buys them all up, then says that he "doesn't like others oggling her." So, you know, like a stalker. But he's rich, so it's all okay. And then they get back into a relationship and we see how that pans out for about two hours.

    That's really all there is to it. It's a repeat of the first movie, warts and all. Whereas the first movie made me rage into the night about how it doesn't understand BDSM culture, maybe I've just accepted that Fifty Shades Darker is a dumb movie that has no idea what it's trying to do. Lord knows I don't understand what it's trying to do. The movie is content with playing a constant cycle of Christian is an asshole, Anastasia rightly calls him out on it, he says or does something that's makes him even more of a dick, and she's won over by it. For Christ's sake, there's a scene in this movie where she nearly gets shot, and Christian turns the situation into a "ME" problem. Seriously, go jump off a cliff.

    What Fifty Shades Darker has that its predecessor doesn't is subplots! Oh my lord, the subplots. There are so many subplots and characters introduced into this movie that I feel like I need a flowchart just to follow what's happening. Anastasia gets a job with an ass named Jack Hyde, Christian's mentor/abuser business partner shows up, Christian's psychotic ex sub shows up, workplace drama, kinky sex, and even marriage proposals all show up at one point in time during the movie. Every daytime soap opera drama rears its ugly head here, but they only pop up for about two minutes before fading off into the night. Remember that crazy ex sub that I mentioned? She follows Christian for one scene, shows up an hour later, and then is put into an insane asylum off screen. Drama!

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    And it's just moments like these throughout the entire movie. Things happen, but they never feel like they have any weight. They never feel like there's a purpose to their existence. These moments are simply there to make the characters do things that end in sex. Even then, I struggle to call the sex feature in this movie sex. They're longer than the first movie, sure, and you do get to see some goodies from both Christian and Anastasia, but there's no meat to it. You'll see a bit of humping, a bit of spanking, then BAM, cut to them sitting at dinner the next night... or maybe the same night because the transitions are so terrible in this movie.

    I cannot stress to you enough how much the space time continuum is warped and destroyed over the course of this movie. In a good movie, you can relatively tell how long it's been since certain events happen. Maybe a title card will show up. Maybe you'll see characters sleeping. Maybe you'll hear a date, or a time, or know when a major event is about to happen. In Fifty Shades Darker, for all we know, their entire love story here takes place over the course of a week at most, and that's including breaking up and getting back together. By the time Christian asks Anastasia to move in with him, I gave up trying to think how long they've actually been together again in order to save myself some sanity.

    And because it's a Fifty Shades movie, let's take out the misinterpretations of BDSM and abuse and replace them with an attempted rape scene and treating a mentally unstable person like a dog. Because, you know, that's what all of the ladies want to see, right? The main character nearly being raped by a creep then watching her boyfriend treat a dangerously psychotic woman like a pet? Why is this franchise popular again? I'm sorry for dwelling on so much on why this movie is just plain wrong, but... actually, I don't apologize, because as long as I can make sure none of you see this movie, then I did my job.

    I will say though that Fifty Shades Darker contains one of the worst scenes I've ever seen in any major blockbuster in my life. I know that phrase gets thrown around a lot, but it's deathly true here. It is so hilarious awful that I dare not spoil it for you here, but it involves a plane crash and the image of Christian Grey running at mach 12 to Seattle. I will simply leave the rest to you imagination.

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    In all seriousness though, what did you expect me to say here? I just spent the better part of four minutes explaining to you all that a terrible movie was, in fact, a terrible movie. These are the kind of reviews I hate to write because there's nothing interesting for me to tell you. I can tell you that it's awful because of x, y, and z. I wish I could talk about why those aspects are bad, but I don't need to. You just need to watch a trailer, or read the original book, or even just watch a single scene from the first movie to understand that this movie sucks royally.

    Now, the question now becomes "Is this movie better or worse than the original?" To that I say, "Who the hell cares, don't watch either of them you brain dead moron! Save yourself the indignity and slander and just go see the Lego Batman Movie again!" But if you were still unsatisfied by me insulting you, then I guess yes, Fifty Shades Darker is a slightly better movie than the original. I didn't feel nearly as dirty when I left the theatre after seeing this abomination, but take that for what it's worth. Maybe it takes more for me to hate things nowadays. Or maybe Fifty Shades Darker is too inept and worthless to muster up any emotion in me besides shooting it point blank with a shotgun. What's that? That's not an emotion? Well too bad, because that's the way I'm feeling right now.

    Fifty Shades Darker feels like a shotgun to the face. See you next year for the finale to this abysmal trilogy.

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  4. [​IMG]

    Can we just get Will Arnett to be the new Batman from now on?


    (Full disclosure; I'm just getting off of a very bad cold where I was bedridden for the better part of two days. Hence, this is going to be a shorter review. Thankfully I don't really have much to say about Lego Batman that hasn't already been said so... there you go!)

    Has it really been three years since The Lego Movie came out? Seriously, The Lego Movie was surprisingly one of the best movies of 2014 to the point where people were vocally upset it didn't get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. When was the last time you ever heard of a large controversy over the omission of an animated movie? Looking back at The Lego Movie, it still holds up really well today, both in terms of its great animation and its hilarious dialogue. So enter Lego Batman, a spinoff of The Lego Movie as well as an all together new Batman movie. And yes, this is one of the best Batman movies ever made, despite there being only two other Batman movies it had to compete with for that honor.

    Unlike every other portrayal of Batman, the Batman here is a narcissistic child that never grew up. He thinks he's edgy and cool and that no one else is smarter or more awesome than he is. Essentially, he's an ass that doesn't really do well around others. That is until the Joker just surrenders. The Joker and all of Gotham's other villains give up, so Batman has nothing to do and no way to impress anyone. Batman knows that there's something going on though, so he hatches a plan to put the Joker into the Phantom Zone so he can never cause any harm again and become Gotham's hero once more. All the while, he has to deal with his new adoptive orphan Dick Grayson and the new police commissioner Barbara Gordon, both of whom just want to be with him and work with Batman.

    I'll be upfront when saying that Lego Batman is undeniably hilarious. The jokes are rapid fire and work almost all of the time, and the animation lends itself to some great physical humor. But I think the reason why the jokes work so well is because we're watching different versions of the characters we love, but they're still recognizable. Batman is a narcissist, Dick Grayson is always obsessed with showing off how much he likes being adopted, and the Joker is shown more as a spurred lover than anything else. His whole planned is based around how much Batman doesn't want to admit he hates the Joker and how the Joker wants to be to Batman what Superman is to Zod. All of these relationships work and makes Lego Batman stand out from the crowd.

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    So I'm actually looking at this movie from two different fronts, as both a Lego movie and as a Batman movie, and the movie is great at being both. There's enough approachable humor here to satisfy kid friendly Lego fans, and enough action and drama to satisfy Batman fans. Obviously this is no Dark Knight, but Lego Batman isn't trying to be that thankfully. This isn't as dark and soulless as Batman v. Superman, where Batman was just shoved inside of a Man of Steel sequel to promote a new shared universe, but instead a light movie that just does its own thing and pokes fun at itself enough times so it doesn't feel forced.

    Are there any flaws that I can think of for this movie? None really to be perfectly honest. I mean sometimes the jokes don't land as well as they should and it's only so long until I can get genuinely annoyed at Batman for just not growing up, but that's all kind of the point. This Batman isn't supposed to be the Batman we know in love, but a satire of him. It pokes fun at how overblown DC has made Batman and it takes a lot of guts to show just how overblown the Batman love really is.

    At the end of the day I was completely satisfied with The Lego Batman movie. Maybe it's the copious amounts of Advil and medicine I've been taking, but I just can't muster any reason why I didn't like Lego Batman. It was funny, it had some great set pieces, and it showed that yes, Batman can have a lighter side and it isn't the end of the world because of it. Batman can joke around and be a joke, but still be a great character and a good superhero because of it.

    Also, Lego Batman beats 50 Shades Darker at the box office. That alone deserves high praise.

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    Oh! Umm... Hi M. Night Shyamalan... Long time since you've been relevant...


    Hello everyone, and welcome back! I've had a lovely break of watching the world not crumble into dust and reading depressing books about orphans, so I've had a fantastic time! 2017 is here, and like it or not, we need to strap ourselves in for one hell of a ride, cause let me be honest with you, the first movie I review of each year is usually a strong factor in whether or not the year is actually going to be a good one. Last year was kicked off with Norm of the North, a garbage movie for garbage people, and this year we have Split, an... interesting movie to say the least.

    I'm not going to sit here and rag on the fact that I'm reviewing an M. Night Shyamalan movie, mostly because I genuinely do like his work to a point. Personally I feel like his original work is wholly his own and has a certain air to it that can't be replicated. I know when I'm watching a Shyamalan movie, for better or worse. He's a director that is honest to God trying to be good, but usually fails by trying to live up to his previous films. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are good movies, but they've forced Shyamalan to try and outdo them, and each and every time has always been a failure. It wasn't until 2015 when he released The Visit that people started to pay attention to him again because he was making films that looked genuinely creepy. Shyamalan would be a perfect horror movie director, and Split just further supports that.

    See, the thing with Split though is that unlike all of his other movies, your overall enjoyment will range on how much you enjoyed or understood the twist. Also, I'm not going to be spoiling Split, so you have nothing to worry about here, but the overall vibe I've been getting from people is that people adored it if they got the twist, or thought the movie was merely good if they didn't. Guess which camp I'm in.

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    Split is the story of three teenage girls that have been taken hostage by a bizarre and silent man named Kevin. Two of these girls are your standard bratty high school girls, while the third is the social outcast who is acutely aware of how much the world sucks. They're taken to a mysterious holding cell and have very little interaction with Kevin and try to escape. They see a woman on the other side of the door they're stuck in and get her to open the door... only for them to see that it's Kevin dressing as a woman. Kevin has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and has 23 active personalities inside of his mind. However, three of them have developed a religion about the coming of a 24th personality known as "The Beast", and he needs three young girls as a sacrifice to devour. So it's a ticking clock for the girls to escape and hopefully use Kevin's personalities against themselves.

    Throwing away the fact that Split isn't even close to being scientifically accurate about DID (it's a horror movie, I can forgive not being correct about how multiple personality disorder works), the focus of the movie is placed right where it should be; Kevin and his personalities interacting with the three girls. They all try to escape in their own unique ways, and Kevin stops them all individually. I would talk about one of the girls in particular, but in a weird way, her story is barely relevant to the overall plot. Her name is Casey, and we frequently get flashbacks to her hunting with her dad and uncle, but it's never really made clear why this matters. By the end of the movie, the only real resolution it brings is muddied at best. We get why Casey is a loner and doesn't hang with other girls, but the impact of her backstory is more of an "oh... okay" moment than anything else.

    But that's kind of fine because the female leads don't really matter all that much here. Like a good horror movie, Split instead focuses on its villain and how he hunts/attacks the girls. Kevin is a fascinating character with a lot of depth to him, especially when you start analyzing and dissecting each of his 23 personalities. There's a quiet man with OCD, a nine year old child, a religious woman, an educated historian, a fashion designer, and a teenage diabetic just to name a few, and that's not even getting into "The Beast" and his whole can of worms. But that leads me to the biggest problem with Split; it wastes its premise.

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    Right on the poster of the movie, we're told that Kevin has 23 personalities and even his psychiatrist starts to name all of his personalities and how they work together. But the movie spends nearly all of its runtime with three of them. The other 20 are thrown to the wayside like they don't even matter, and this isn't a matter of having false expectations. When you tout the fact that one actor is able to portray 23 different personalities in one role, that's damned impressive. In reality, most of the other personas have a line or two then are swiftly forgotten. Hell, if we include "The Beast" and the brief mention of the original Kevin minus DID personas, we only see and hear about eight personalities out of 25. That's not even a third. It's hard not to be a bit disappointed after thinking about that.

    However, James McAvoy does a fantastic job regardless of my personal qualms. It's kind of amazing to see him swap between each personality at the drop of a hat, and I know exactly who is in control. One scene in particular has a personality in charge, but just be taking a breath and straightening his spine, I know exactly which personality is in charge. That's a testament for hos good of a performance this is, and when he has a chance to actually talk extensively as a personality, it's damned good.

    In fact, it's the little things that make Split a good movie. You may think that I don't like Split, but again, I actually do enjoy it. What works works really well, and James McAvoy still does a great job, the scares are still good, and the tension is great when the girls are trying to escape. But of course, we must address the twist, because the twist does affect whether you will like the movie or not.

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    While I won't go into any details here, the twist is reliant on painting the rest of the movie in a different light. It makes the audience realize the the world is different from what we thought it was, and that either made people extremely excited, or people that just didn't care all that much. Make no mistake, Split is meant to have a sequel that address its twist, but for the now, for the me of 2017, I couldn't muster up any interest in it. In fact, I had to look up what the impact of the twist was because I kind of forgot why it was so significant. Once I realized the importance of it, I still couldn't really care about it.

    It's not that the twist is bad, because the signs are there, but it's so reliant on being aware of the world and the characters it references that it loses what makes it special. It undermines the premise of Split by lessening its ending and the struggle that the girls went through. It paints the entire movie in a much smaller light than it already was. I wish I could say exactly what I'm talking about, but instead of making the world larger, it instead made the world of the movie smaller. An established universe is made, but it undermines Split as its own entity.

    Split may have been conflicting for me, but I fully acknowledge a good movie when I see it. The story is solid, the performances are good, and it's a return to form for Shyamalan. It's one of his best movies, even though that isn't saying much. I would much rather take a conflicting movie that has good elements in it than a movie that's just plain boring. Split isn't boring at all, it's just not my cup of tea. I'll drink it, but it wouldn't be the first thing I drink.

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  6. [​IMG]

    Hey, what do you know? A good year for video games! How about that!


    2016 was a great year for games!

    I can’t really think of anything witty to say about that because it’s simply just true. It’s hard to argue with the fact that a ton of great games came out in 2016 and the bad games were either embarrassingly bad and forgotten in less than a week, or just disappointments that at least some people found enjoyment in. Not only that, but there were A LOT of good games. There were so many good games this year that I actually thought about turning this list into a Top 10. So why isn’t it a Top 10?

    While I did love a lot of games this year, my main hesitation on making a Top 10 is that I have to honor some games that I merely thought were alright at best. Now if this was a crappy year in games, then that would make sense for a Top 5, but in a great year full of a ton of great games, it seems cheap to put on some games I felt only half-hearted about when some huge titles are left off because I just didn’t get to play them. I wanted to play Dark Souls III, Final Fantasy XV, and DOOM, but I just didn’t have the time by the end of the year. So while I definitely can make this a Top 10 list, I’m not going to. Instead, I’ll add an extra honorable mention just to make myself feel better about this. So… this is a Top 7? Eh, Top 5 is more catchy, so there you go! Here are my Top 5 Games of 2015 with an extra honorable mention!

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    HM #1 – Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)​

    When I heard the news that a new Paper Mario game was in development, I wanted to believe so hard it was a traditional RPG and less of how Sticker Star was. That turned out to not be true, but I still had a surprisingly good time with the game. The level design felt fresh, the music was great, the puzzles actually felt like puzzles that required some pretty clever item use and paint, and the game had such a great sense of humor. I’d argue that it was one of the funniest games in the series, bar none.

    Now does this game have problems though? Oh yes it does. Combat still felt pointless to the point where I tried to avoid it as much as possible towards the end game, bosses varied from being fun and challenging to short and pathetic, and the lack of challenge throughout was a major issue.

    The developers went on record and said that it was more of an adventure game than an RPG, and I can totally see it. As an RPG, Color Splash isn’t very good. As an adventure game though, Color Splash is a fun little game that serves well as the Wii U’s swan song.

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    HM – Zero Time Dilemma (3DS, VITA)​

    I’m so torn that this had to be an honorable mention, but I couldn’t in good conscious put this game in a number slot despite how good I think it is.

    Zero Time Dilemma is a fantastic visual novel that’s grizzly, has great character moments, a satisfying narrative, and a structure unlike any I’ve ever seen before in any game. The story is downright thrilling and I sank hours into the game and beat it in less than a week, and for a text heavy visual novel that’s saying a lot. As a conclusion to the Zero Escape trilogy, I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion.

    But that’s the thing. I loved this game from start to finish, but that’s only because I loved the other games in the series. This isn’t a case where each game in a series does its own thing like Uncharted or Dark Souls; each game flows into the other to tell one gigantic story. So did I love the game because it was a genuinely great game, or because I loved the other games? How much of my enjoyment came from the game itself and not from the series itself?

    So I decided that Zero Time Dilemma would serve as an honorable mention, but only by a slight technicality. I adore this game, but that’s mostly because it gave me the ending I was looking for and the resolution I needed. Play the other games and give this one a shot.

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    #5 – Ratchet & Clank (2016) (PS4)​

    As a reboot, Ratchet & Clank isn’t that amazing. It’s more focused on tying in to movie (which was perfectly fine for what it was) instead of remaking the first game and honoring it. That being said, the gameplay and visuals here are the best in the entire franchise.

    When I first sat down to play Ratchet & Clank, I raced through it and enjoyed every last second of it. Then I went and played it again. Then I went back and played the original trilogy on PS2 and I have to say, with the exception of Up Your Arsenal, the remake of the original game is one of my favorite games in the series.

    I obviously wish it was a full remake, but for what we get here, it doesn’t really matter that we’re missing a third of the levels or the character beats of the original. The remake is doing its own thing, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s different enough from the original to be worth discussing as its own game, and for what it’s worth, as long as we can get more Ratchet & Clank games like this, I don’t have a single problem with it.

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    #4 – Shantae: Half Genie Hero (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Vita)​

    Regardless of the fact that I funded this game, Half Genie Hero is a damned great platformer that takes a Metroidvania styled series and makes it more linear, but for the better. Levels are still massive, but it’s easier to replay them for fun and enjoy the great level design.

    Shantae: Half Genie Hero just looks fantastic from top to bottom. I’m never someone who puts graphics over gameplay, but hot damn does this game elevate the gameplay through its visuals. Some bosses are 2D fights layered in a 3D environment, and the little hidden jokes and moments on display in most levels is just a joy. There were so many times where I just stopped what I was doing and watched the levels animate around me.

    The gameplay is fairly traditional as a collect-a-thon, but the speed running aspect makes the game even more fun to complete. I’ve been playing the game several times since its release just to lower my time and get better at it. I never speed run games, but Half Genie Hero makes me want to speed run it, and with 4 more campaigns coming down the pipeline, I’ll be playing this one well into 2017 and beyond.

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    #3 – Severed (Vita, Wii U, 3DS)​

    Severed
    was my most anticipated game of 2016, and it did not disappoint at all. I had so much fun playing this dark, grizzly little game that I was compelled the Platinum it, which is something that I rarely ever do for a game.

    Severed wastes no time throwing you into its depressing, Mayan inspired world and letting you go nuts. You kill monsters with a fantastic combat system, wander around and solve puzzles, and just explore dungeons, villages, and forests all in the search of the monster that killed your family.

    There’s nothing cheery about this game, but its somber tone combined with its bright visuals make it unlike any other game that came out this year. Unlike most other Indie games that I played this year, everything about this world just worked. I felt like this was an actual world I was exploring, fighting demons in, and meeting people that left an impact with me. That first moment when you find your brother is fantastic, the crone is great, and finding each memento towards the end was one of the best challenges I had all year.

    I hate the fact that no one played Severed this year, flying by under the radar for most gamers, but I implore you to give it a try. It’s unique controls, eye popping visuals, and world design make this a game not to be ignored.

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    #2 – Pokemon Sun/Moon (3DS)​

    Nintendo had a pretty depressing year this year. The Wii U was officially discontinued, only a handful of memorable games were released on the 3DS and Wii U, and the Switch was not released. I’m dead certain that 2017 is going to be a fantastic year for Nintendo, but unless you were a franchise that started with a P and ended in an okemon, you were struggling.

    Pokemon had a banner year with Pokemon Go! Dominating the world, Pokken Tournament making a fairly decent splash in EVO, and of course, Pokemon Sun/Moon releasing to universal acclaim.

    Pokemon Sun/Moon actually made steps to changing how we play Pokemon games, and that’s a compliment that actually has some weight. Gyms are gone, and trial captains and Totem Pokemon replaced them. HM’s were removed, and levels were designed to have slopes, hills, and depth to them. Regional Pokemon are a fantastic idea that made sense and should be implemented in every game from here on out, and the unique Hawaiian theme made the game more visually interesting.

    There are a lot more tiny touches to the 7th gen that make them stand out against the rest of them, but I couldn’t even begin to list them all. All you need to know is that unlike the graphical advancements of X/Y, there is an actual case to make here about how much the series has grown between gens. I haven’t felt this much of a change since Gen 2, and that is saying a lot.

    My Nuzlocke of the game may have failed, but that’s not to say I didn’t have a blast during it. And even when I died, I still had fun playing with the team I raised and loved. Good on you Sun/Moon.

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    #1 - Overwatch (PS4, Xbox One, PC)​

    No matter what I thought, there was no way for me not to put Overwatch as my Game of the Year. I've played Overwatch more than any other game this year, and that is not a small feat.

    When I first played Overwatch, I hadn't heard a single thing about it except that it had stellar reviews. So I played it and thought that it was a great game, but a bit sparse on modes, so I stopped playing it over the summer. Fast forward to September, and it was all that a friend and I could play. We would play for hours on end or whenever we could get a chance. We tried to get good at several characters, with my mains being Mei, Junkrat, and Mercy, while his were Reinhardt, Lucio, and Junkrat.

    Yes, the game does have a dearth of content, but the matches themselves are always entertaining and are filled with a variety of awesome moments. Moments like going into overtime when the payload is almost at a destination, unleashing an ultimate move that kills half of the enemy team, or just having a one-on-one match against an enemy that ends in one of you dying in glory. You name it, and Overwatch provides the thrills.

    I know a ton of people have exposited about the joys of Overwatch and its cast of characters, but I can't say how much I love every character in the game. From heroes like Tracer's optimism, D. Va's evolution into a troll, Soldier 76 becoming the dad of the franchise, or how Mei is worse than Satan, I can remember everything about each character and how they control. Every character plays differently, so even if you have no idea what you're doing half of the time, there'll be one character that you can just jump into and have fun. You can play for fun in arcade mode, play competitively with other players, or just have fun with a group of friends.

    2016 was the year of Overwatch. People are still talking about how good it is to this day, and with more characters, more maps, new costumes, and new modes coming soon, it's only going to get better from here, This is the game that this console generation needed to really come alive, so I have no problem calling Overwatch my GOTY for 2016.
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    2016 found a lot of new ways to piss me off, but let's just keep it to ten.


    I contend that you usually have three kinds of years for movies. You have a year where everything came up roses and the movies were great and everyone felt great about that year (2015). Then you have the bad years where you have to scrounge together movies that you liked cause everything was just too mediocre or underwhelming to care about (2014). And then you have the oddball year, the year where good movies come out, but they're not what people normally go to see, and the big budget movies do alright, but not great. That was 2016 for me; a year where good movies came out, but there were a lot of weird, outright bad movies that came out too.

    Let me be upfront in saying that while some truly awful, and I mean God awful, movies came out in 2016, I had to actually remember that I saw awful movies this year. For the record, every year I keep a little document open on my laptop that lists every movie I've seen over the year, a few quick thoughts on it, and what I gave my final rating of. Once December hits, I look back at all of the movies and I say that they go on the worst list, the best list, or I just ignore them and forget they even happened. And for the majority of movies in 2016, my response when looking at the list was "I saw that? Oh wait, I did see that!"

    I guess it's good that a movie can be forgettably bad, so I don't have to think about it ever again and I don't have to dwell on it, but still, if you're going to be bad, just be bad! Don't half ass it! Half assing things is boring, and a couple of the movies on here's greatest sin was being boring as hell. Now granted, I didn't see every bad movie that came out this year, I somehow managed to avoid Nine Lives, Collateral Beauty, and Independence Day: Resurgence, but I don't think it's hard to imagine why the movies that got on this list got here in the first place. If you liked one of these movies, more power to you, this is just my own silly little opinion. That being said, here are the worst movies that I had to see in 2016. May I never think about them ever again.

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    HM: Batman: The Killing Joke

    How do you do it? How do you take a surefire premise and ruin it this badly? How do you make people hate The Killing Joke more than they already did?

    Well I'll tell you, fair reader! Let's destroy Barbara Gordon's character in the first twenty minutes of the movie! The original Alan Moore story The Killing Joke was extended by about twenty minutes or so, seeing as how the original story wouldn't even last a full hour if it was a full one-to-one adaptation, so the creators thought it would be wise to make people more attached to Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, before the events that happened to her in the actual story. And instead, we had #batsex, Barbara fighting a sexist gangster that intended to rape her, have her abandon the cowl because she can't get over Batman, and did I mention Bruce Wayne screwed his best friend's daughter? Cause that happened. Oh boy did it happen...

    It was the worst twenty minutes out of any movie I've seen this year, and yet the rest of the movie is great. When The Killing Joke is actually telling the damned Alan Moore story, it's exactly how you'd imagine a DC animated adaptation of it should go. It's dark, has excellent voice acting, beautiful imagery, and the themes addressed still ring true despite Alan Moore's claims that he doesn't like the story anymore. If it wasn't for that worthless, insulting, horrendous, foul, odorous, cancerous, destructive, venomous, baffling, mean-spirited introduction, then I might have actually put The Killing Joke on my best list. But it's down here at the worst because DC doesn't understand how to tell a good story when they have one.

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    #10: Why Him?

    Originally, I was going to put Equestria Girls here because of how worthless it was as a movie. But then two things hit me. First, no one saw the damned thing, so why beat a dead pony letting everyone know how crap it was. And second, I saw Why Him? New Year's Eve, so that qualified for my list! Hooray for bad comedies!

    Why Him? is about Bryan Cranston being a stuck in the mud, old school father figure who can't understand why his daughter is going out with an idiot, stoner, moronic game designer multi-millionaire played by James Franco. It goes about exactly as well as you expect it to, only minus the humor. I like Bryan Cranston and James Franco, but the jokes here just aren't funny or go on for an eternity. There is an entire sequence dedicated to moose urine and moose testicles, followed up by dragons and motor-boating. I would say that movie was trying too hard, but it tried so hard that the jokes were never even funny in the first place.

    And so, I've come up with two honorary awards for this year, and here's to them becoming a yearly tradition. Why Him? gets the "So Funny It's Sad" Award for 2016, for trying so hard to make people laugh, but instead just making me feel embarrassed for everyone involved here. Good job at being so bad!

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    #9: The Birth of a Nation

    And here's the second new award for 2016, the "Oscar turned Razzie" Award! This award is for the special movie that tried to be an Oscar contender but misses the point so hard that it instead becomes a Razzie contender! So congrats The Birth of a Nation for your award win. I'll send Nate Parker a sticky note to hang on his fridge.

    The best way I can describe The Birth of a Nation is that one movie you saw in your history class in high school. You remember the one; the movie that your teacher told you that you were going to watch for a few days, so you got pumped because you weren't going to be doing any major work, but instead you realized just how boring it was, so you instantly regretted all of the hope and joy you felt to the point where you wanted to go back to doing classwork?

    Yeah, that one.

    The Birth of a Nation is dull, lifeless, and either thinks that it's audience is too dumb, or that they're MENSA members. Christ imagery is thrown around so much that it makes Man of Steel look humble, followed by "ask me what it means" symbolism that I'm not sure human beings can accurately comprehend. Nothing happens until the very end of the movie, and even when Nat Turner's slave rebellion happens, it lasts all of ten minutes before going back to Christ imagery and bizarre symbolism. And no, I don't hate it because Nate Parker is a sex offender. That's just dumb. No, I hate this movie because it made me waste two hours of my life on a passion project with no real passion. Go see Fences, Hidden Figures, or Moonlight for passion projects about important African American stories that are actually good, thought provoking, and, you know, aren't The Birth of a Nation.

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    #8: The Angry Birds Movie

    You know what pisses me off well and good? When people go to see a movie and it turns out bad, it's open for discussion and debate as to what worked and what didn't, but when someone goes to see a kids movie and they talk about why it's bad, the response is usually one of indifference as people say that it's a kid's movie, what were you expecting?

    This lame excuse doesn't fly anymore. We live in a time where animated films are better than they've ever been, even in the 90's, and with so many thought provoking, enjoyable, and downright gorgeous kids movies releasing every month, no one is entitled anymore to say "What were you expecting?" You want to know what I was expecting? I was expecting Zootopia, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, Kung-Fu Panda 3, Pete's Dragon, The Jungle Book, you know, any of the good kids movies that actually came out this year, and all of them range from being good to near perfection. And yet those are the exceptions and The Angry Birds Movie is the rule?

    No! No! No! Pig farts and pig butts are the exception now! Pop culture references that date the movie are the exception now! Lazy writing with piss jokes and one-note characters are the exception now! If anyone, and I mean anyone says that kids movies aren't as good live action movies, or movies aimed at adults, then I'll gladly point you all to Zootopia, a movie that tackles discrimination and racism in a way that few have ever seen before and that most "adult" movies don't even dare to tackle. But The Angry Birds Movie is a kids movie, so what were you expecting?

    Just... give me a minute to cool off after that. I'm sorry but a bad movie is a bad movie no matter how you slice it, for kids or not.

    Or maybe The Angry Birds Movie was worse than scurvy because it was a video game adaptation?

    Yeah that may be it, those are never good.

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    #7: The Purge: Election Year

    The Purge continues to be a franchise that could either be a great thriller/comedy series, or turn into a serious social commentary series about... whatever the hell it's trying to talk about. Election Year is the latter, turning a still interesting premise into... I don't even know what the hell was going on here. There's a lot of political satire that doesn't make any sense or is too heavy handed, a handful of incredibly intense scenes that I think were meant to be jokes, and an overall story that was... I'm going to be honest, I don't have any clue what the hell even happened in this movie. There were candy bars, neo-nazi's, political commentary that didn't hold up even when it was released, let alone now, and a horror series that still somehow manages to be more popular than actually good horror movies.

    I would describe this movie in more depth and why it sucks, but when no one can accurately explain what the point here was, I think I'm kind of useless here.

    Really though? The Purge: Election Year? Really?

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    #6: Gods of Egypt

    Honestly, I can't even be mad at Gods of Egypt. It is such a delightfully bad movie that it's almost impossible not to enjoy. Don't get me wrong though, Gods of Egypt is pure trash, but wow is it the fun kind of bad.

    For those of you that aren't aware, Gods of Egypt is an action movie where all of the Egyptian Gods are played by tall, white people that are stated to be obviously better than the native Egyptians. And that's just the premise! Whitewashing aside, and believe me I could spend days on it, there's just something to love about how serious Gods of Egypt is, and how that seriousness makes everything even funnier. You would have thought there was one guy during the production of this entire movie that realized that they were making one of the dumbest movies ever, and yet everyone ignored him because they thought they were truly making art. It's kind of beautiful in a sense.

    And that's not even the best part about this saga! Yeah, Gods of Egypt belongs on this list for how bad the acting is, how laughable the premise is, and how the dialogue feature such gems as "Crawl back to shadow you stinking worm! You shall never feast on my creation!", but that after the movie was released, the director had a public meltdown saying that critics that didn't like his movie were a pack of diseased vultures picking at his movie's dead carcass. Unintentionally, he did say that his movie was like a rotting corpse, so who knows? Maybe this was all just an elaborate prank that everyone fell for.

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    #5: Norm of the North

    Remember way back in January when I said Norm of the North was going to be on my worst list?

    Self fulfilling prophecies are always the best prophecies.

    And now, for your viewing pleasure, a twerking polar bear.


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    #4: Blair Witch

    I really need to shut up when I'm talking positively about things. I just had to go and say in August that horror movies were having a great year, and what was the next movie I saw? The worst horror movie of 2016. So only negative predictions from here on out!

    In order for a horror movie to actually be scary, things need to make sense about it. I need to know the rules of this universe in order for me to be actively scared by it. I'm scared at The Ring because I know how the rules of that universe work and why the characters are so screwed whenever they watch the tape. In Blair Witch, I have no idea what the rules are, let alone if I should be scared at what's happening. At least Election Year had tension and suspense in it, making me think just for a brief second that maybe, just maybe, I could be scared at something, and when I'm comparing Election Year positively to someone, you know it's bad.

    Actually you know what Blair Witch reminds me of most? Slender! Yeah, remember that game, where you had to walk around in dark woods looking for things, but all the while the Slender Man was following you, except he really didn't do anything besides startle you? That's Blair Witch! Dumb hipsters walk into a wood with a video camera, trying to find something, only to have spoooooooooopy things happen to them that ends with a resounding thud of an ending.

    I would say this was so bad it's good, but I was just bored watching this entire movie. It was either people staring into darkness waiting for a fake-out jump scare to happen, people arguing with each other, people running around to the point where I can't tell what's happening, or people in a haunted house slowly moving around. Weird things happened here that were meant to be scary and ask questions, but instead I'm just asking questions because the narrative collapsed in on itself. Regardless, I wasn't scared, I wasn't entertained, but at least it was better than Book of Shadows... kind of. At least that had characters that I remembered. I mean I hated all of them, but having bad characters is better than having bland characters.

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    #3: Ghostbusters (2016)

    I think that since it's been six months now since the movie came out and how reviews ranged from good to bad and that it under performed at the box office, I think we can have a safe, civil discussion about how crappy the script was in this movie.

    No, the actors were not to blame for why Ghostbusters as unspectacular as it was, though I still hate Melissa McCarthy with a burning passion. They did fine. Hell, it wasn't even the bad marketing that was to blame for it, though that first trailer and Fallout Boy song didn't help either. Everything that was bad about this movie hinged from the fact that the story and characters were all written absolutely horribly. Good actors and Melissa McCarthy can only do so much when the actual material is so bad. None of the jokes were funny, and the only good moments came from acknowledging that the first movie exists and was a far better movie.

    Here's a fun little game. Can you remember all five of the main characters names? As in, first and last name, because they give you both of them. What about the villain? Can you remember his name? Chances are you probably can't because there aren't any real characters, just stock roles with stock jokes and lame special effects.

    And the movie wouldn't even be so bad if there was some, or even any, attempt to make the jokes stick or land. You know, to make it highly quotable, like the original movie? Ghostbusters failed to live up to its predecessors, and the fact that at its released it was heralded as being the focal point for a hot new franchise when the franchise already existed is enraging enough. The saddest part of this though is what message do you believe was sent to Hollywood when people didn't go see this movie? Was it that remakes don't sell, or that action movies with women don't sell?

    And again, it wasn't even the actor's fault! A terrible script, horrible special effects, and a genuine, cynical effort to make this movie as neutered as possible were the reasons it failed, not because of whining man babies crying that feminists are taking away their toys. No, Ghostbusters is just a bad movie, plain and simple.

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    #2: God's Not Dead 2

    And you all thought I was joking with my April Fool's Day review! Yeah, I actually saw God's Not Dead 2, and yes, it is a painful sit, if only because of how ignorant this movie is.

    It's going to be hard to talk about a Pro-Christian movie without insulting a lot of evangelicals, so I'll try to be as mellow as I can be. This is not a good movie. It's just not. Leaps of logic are made in order to portray laws, rules, and regulations as evil because they're oppressing Christianity in public schools. I would mention that the separation of Church and State exists for a reason, but God's Not Dead 2 doesn't care about that. It cares about telling Christians that they're being oppressed and that they need to stand up to the oppression.

    You know, I have a good friend of mine who is gay. She's a lovely person and one of my closest friends, and she is genuinely scared at what the future may hold for her because of her beliefs and how the system is geared against her. She believes that she is being persecuted because of her lifestyle, and many people in the country feel that way. Now, whether their fears are justified has yet to be seen, but I can be pretty certain that Christians cannot make the same claims that the LGBT community are feeling right now.

    God's Not Dead 2 suspends all logic to tell its very Christian audience that they are persecuted and that they are being attacked, and that the only way they can defend themselves is to take action. Put aside the fact that the movie is brain dead stupid and paced terribly, spending most of its time in boring court cases that don't have any variation to them, but when your central premise is as flawed and as ignorant as it is, there's no saving it. I have nothing against Christians in the slightest, believe me, and I always play the devil's advocate in nearly any situation I'm in, but this movie feels like a spoiled white kid crying over the fact that they didn't get as much money for a scholarship because their grades weren't good enough and but they claim that it's because they're white.

    There's a reason why I didn't actually review this movie, because God's Not Dead 2 made me enraged ethically and morally. The fact that shameless propaganda could make it to theatres is insulting, and now I'm vowing to never, NEVER watch another one of these movies out of fear that I may write the next "War & Peace" in the form of a a review examining why Christian propaganda films suck so much. I wish I could say that my hatred is only for my number two entry, but nope, it just gets even stronger. You all know what my number one is, so let's just get ready for round two with a movie that I detest from top to bottom.

    [​IMG]
    #1: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Fun fact, HBO was able to get the rights to Batman v Superman for Thanksgiving. So all throughout Thanksgiving weekend, they were showing this movie on a nearly endless loop as their big get of the year. I tuned in for literally a minute, then turned it off. The only reason I did that was because I wanted to remind myself of just how bad it was and that I would have no shame putting it as the worst movie of 2016.

    I tore this movie apart in my original review. I'm pretty sure it was the longest review I've ever wrote because man oh man did I have a lot to say. Batman v. Superman is a horror show. It's like watching people you genuinely care about being tortured alive for three hours and you have to watch it Clockwork Orange style. DC couldn't have been more wrong about how to portray their own characters than if they accidentally had Captain America play Superman, but everyone still called him Superman.

    So Batman is still a blatant murderer, killing 21 people at minimum, Superman still has the charisma of Styrofoam, Wonder Woman's powers don't make any sense, the "MARTHA" scene is stupid, Jesse Eisenberg is truly terrible here, the movie is dark and dour to the point where I literally can't see what the hell is happening half of the time, there's no joy here at all, let alone humor, everyone feels like they don't want to be here, the movie is insufferably pretentious, everyone is an idiot, all of the problems could be sorted out in less than a minute, Doomsday is still a horrible idea for a villain, everyone suffers for being in this movie, and I'm not even going to break down every scene and why none of them work one iota.

    Batman v. Superman may not fundamentally be the worst movie of 2016, but it has given me the most rage and hatred. I couldn't derive a single second of enjoyment from this, and while I hear people say that the extra 35 minutes (!) of footage in the extended cut make the movie better, there is no way in any dimension that I would sit down again to watch this movie. A few added scenes and extra foreshadowing can't make Lex Luthor a good character, Superman charismatic, or Batman actually abide by his own moral code that's been established for over 75 years!

    I was talking with a friend a few days ago, and they asked me which was worse; Fant4stic, or Batman v. Superman. I had to think for a bit on that, but the fact that I had to compare these two movies without instantly saying Fant4stic is shocking to say the least! Now Batman v. Superman isn't as bad as Fant4stic, but only by the skin of its teeth. I can actually see that there was at least an attempt to make Batman v. Superman not a nuclear apocalypse of horror, despite the fact that the end result is still a nuclear apocalypse of horror. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay...

    I'm never going to watch this movie again in my life. Batman v. Superman is the worst movie of 2016, I hate it, and that's the end of that. I would piss on a copy of this movie, but I don't have one under my roof, and I am thankful every day for that.




    Well, that felt nice a relieving. So tune in in a few days for my Top 5 Best Video Games of 2016, followed by the big one, my Top 10 Best Movies of 2016.
  8. [​IMG]

    THANK GOD.


    2016 IS FINALLY OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, I just thought that everyone, as a species, needed to hear that. I would include fanfare and people dancing in the streets in this post to show just how in love I am with that fact, but I can only do so much in a post like this.

    But seriously. thank God that 2016 is done. Political unrest, social upheaval, and the world being torn inside out by its own stupidity. When the most tragic thing that happened in 2016 was the death of a gorilla, then you know for a fact that the world is on a fast track to some circle of hell that we haven't discovered yet. I could go on about how 2016 wasn't all that bad and that there were some good things that happened, but no one wants to hear about that. Everyone wants to hear that it's done, t's never coming back, and that we can move on to bigger and better things.

    So here we are, looking back on a year that was social garbage, but at least some anime were good... I mean not a whole lot, but there were still some good shows, if not downright great shows. I've had a problem with most anime in 2016 because there was just too much of it! With nearly 200, yes 200, shows produced over the span of the year, there were just simply too many titles to judge accurately, let alone ones that stuck out to me. Most of these titles were just generic Moe slop, mobile phone tie in anime, light novel adaptations, and just general assembly line anime that had nothing to them besides existing.

    That being said, I did enjoy several titles this year quite a bit, and I even regretted not picking up some shows in the long run. Usually the shows that I watched were what I was craving at the moment. One season I may want some action anime, while another season I may want some more mellow slice-of-life fare for my palette. Point is, there are some shows I just didn't watch because I wasn't interested in them at the time and I simply don't have enough time to watch them now. Re: Zero, Yuri on Ice!!!, and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu have been popping up on many people's best anime of the year list, but I haven't seen any of them. I just didn't have the time, and in the case of Re: Zero, the concept alone just didn't appeal to me. I know that many people will disagree with me on that, but maybe I'll give that and all of those shows a watch and kick myself for not putting them on my list. But this is MY list. I am the barometer for what I like, and what I enjoyed the most this past year. You may agree or disagree, but that's just the way the world works.

    And so, let's get right to it with our honorable mention of...

    [​IMG]
    Honorable Mention: Mob Psycho 100

    Mob Psycho 100
    was a damned fine show that had quite a lot to say about adolescence and too many other themes and idea for me to accurately explain here. I was debating between putting Mob here or Danganronpa 3, but I decided in favor of Mob at the last minute for how polished of an experience this is.

    Mob Psycho 100 has genuinely great characters, my personal favorite being everybody's favorite con artist Reigen, fantastic animation, and the best OP of the year, but what pushes Mob over the edge for me was that it told a self contained, standalone story. Danganronpa 3 is a niche of an anime, appealing to fans of the game and being both a prequel and a sequel to games that never got an anime adaptation. It had a high entry bar for non-viewers, though fans of the series, like myself, enjoyed it immensely. Mob Psycho 100 on the other hand, is accessible and has topical messages all wrapped around stunning minimalistic animation. I may not have liked it when I first saw it, but it slowly grew on me the more that I thought about it.

    What keeps it from breaking into the Top 5 though is simply the fact that I liked other shows immediately after I saw them. There was no wait period between me liking the shows in my Top 5, I just liked them instantly. Mob needed to grow on me, and it would feel wrong for me to put an anime as my favorite list for only liking it in retrospect versus titles that have stuck with me the entire year. So yeah, Mob Psycho 100 is a great show, ONE is a great author, and I can't wait to see more ONE adaptations.

    [​IMG]
    #5: planetarian

    So I didn't know exactly what to do with planetarian to be perfectly honest. I was first a net animation of five episodes that varied in length before being turned into a movie... that was just reusing all of the animation from the anime to tell its story. I opted to give it a nod as an anime series though because of just how beautiful and simple it is.

    If there's anything I've learned over the years, some of my favorite anime and movies are those with simple premises and executions. Simple doesn't mean bad, it just means that it's something to easily grasp your head around. Yumemi and the junker are the two characters in the story, it's about a post apocalyptic world and Yumemi trying to fix her planetarium.

    planetarian is an elegant show that's able to do so much without ever resorting to cheap shots. You know the kind of cheap shots I'm referring to. In a drama like this, it's easy to manipulate the audience to have certain feelings and reactions, but planetarian doesn't manipulate its audience. Every reaction the viewer has is genuine because we grow to care about Yumemi and the world that she lives in. Every scene feels justified and there's no wasted space in here.

    Clocking in at less than 2 hours, anyone can watch planetarian in a sitting and with the show ending on its own terms and not stretching its premise out longer than it needed to be, it feels like a magical experience. Give this series a shot, or watch the movie that reused the animation from here. Either way, it's a calming and enjoyable experience.

    [​IMG]
    #4: Keijo!!!!!!!!

    I just spent more time not even a week ago defending Keijo!!!!!!!! as a good anime, and I wasn't all that surprised to see it appear in my Top list either. It's just a simple, fun show. Remember when things could be goofy and fun and didn't have a shred of cynicism in them? That's the case here. Keijo!!!!!!!! is all about having a good time and entertaining audiences, and it succeeds in spades.

    The excessive fan service may put some people off, but it's not that detrimental to the show itself. It's just there, apart of the world, and it doesn't harm any of the proceedings. There's no objectification, by others, no skimpy outfits to embarrass the ladies, and definitely no romantic subplots that would cheapen the show. Keijo!!!!!!!! is just Keijo!!!!!!!!. You know exactly what kind of show it is based off of the poster above. You'll either love it or be repulsed by it, but after a few episodes, it's hard not to crack a smile at the whole proceedings.

    [​IMG]
    #3: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

    I'm just going to come out and say that I enjoy Kabaneri way more than I enjoyed Attack on Titan. Made by the exact same production team, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress takes the conflict of AoT and sets it in Edo Japan with steampunk weapons, hordes of parasitic zombies, and the only people that can take them out are super-powered vampires. It's a grand, action packed epic that all takes place on a giant train alla Snowpiercer.

    Now I know its a loaded statement to say that Kabaneri better than one of the most beloved anime titles of the past decade, but hear me out. Kabaneri is able to throw together a whole host of characters that come from various walks of life and pits them under the same circumstances. You have mechanics, warriors, a princess, a vampire killing machine, and normal civilians all trying to survive, and that's not even including the political machinations of the main villain and their forces. Death here has meaning behind it because in the span of 12 episodes, only two characters die, and one has quite he near death experience. Death isn't used frequently, but death does exist, making all of the moments spent with our heroes all the more special.

    But let's be perfectly honest here, the action in Kabaneri is just sensational. The animation is beyond comparison and makes scenes where the vampire move down monsters all the more satisfying, and even when some giant monsters are thrown it gets even better. People punch trains here!!!

    All of the feelings and emotions of Kabaneri are larger than life and the series is all about spectacle. Some of its themes and ideas fade away when the action scenes take center stage, but that's par for the course for a series dedicated to INTENSE FEELINGS AND ACTIONS. As long as you can get behind it, you'll have the best action series of the year.

    [​IMG]
    #2: Erased

    So I'm at least somewhat aware of the fact that most of my Top 5 are all anime that I personally enjoy the most. Looking around and most other anime critics best lists, there's no mention of any of the titles I've listed already. When I think about "the best", I don't think about a generic, overall best. I think of my own personal best, as in the shows that I enjoyed the most. The very few times I cross over with popular opinion, it's for a damned good reason. Erased is that damned good reason.

    Not only is the first episode of Erased arguably the best episode out of any shows I've seen this year, but there's nothing but gut punch after gut punch of emotional resonance here. Every episode has a moment or two that's just spectacularly done and devastates me inside. Whether it was Satoru's realization of what happened to him in the first episode, his encounters with Kayo's mother, or Kayo having a home-cooked meal for the first time, Erased was dead set on making sure you felt for the characters.

    And you know what? I felt for all of the characters. Not only is Satoru's mother one of the best mothers in all of anime, his relationships with his friends all feel real and you can see exactly how they influence him. The humor works, the drama works, and did I forget to mention this series is a murder mystery? That's probably the most compelling thing about this show. Each week new facts are presented to the audience to determine who the killer is, but nothing is laid clear until about episode 8... that being said, the reveal of the mastermind is at episode 10 or so, so the ending is flubbed just a little bit because it draws out the reveal and the machinations of the mastermind for what feels like an eternity.

    But despite the lukewarm ending, there's still a lot to enjoy at how the series concludes. There's one moment towards the end of the show that absolutely justifies the price of admission alone, and its about a character that Satoru spent so much time trying to protect and become friends with through it all. I highly recommend seeing Erased as soon as possible. It's easily one of the best shows of 2016... but not my number one. What could that possibly be? Well...

    [​IMG]
    #1: Flying Witch

    I never would have expected to love a slice-of-life comedy as much as I did this year, but Flying Witch blew me away episode after episode. I've never been a big fan of slice-of-life comedies, but Flying Witch always had a sense of wonder to it. Ever episode felt calming and positive, almost like a reverse Mushi-shi. While Mushi-shi was somber and very introspective, Flying Witch was positive and extroverted. This was a world that was pleasant and welcoming.

    Each episode revolved around little happenstances, but they were just so memorable and enjoyable to watch. I remember episodes about the coming of the Spring Spirit, meeting a fortune teller in the park, discussing the differences between pancakes and hotcakes, visiting a ghost cafe, and going sightseeing on a flying whale. Moments here resonated way more than any other show this year because the show never tried to paint itself as anything more than a fun little show about a witch living in a small town. It's the same reason why Kiki's Delivery Service is so beloved by people.

    The best way I can use to describe Flying Witch is that's its a nostalgic show. Whenever you watch an episode, it just gives you the fuzzies all over and when you're done watching it, you look back at how much you surprisingly enjoyed yourself. It's like laying in a hammock on a spring day; peaceful, but certainly needed.

    It's always difficult to describe why I like a show so much, because there's only so many ways I can say "It's good because it's good", but I can clearly say that Flying Witch is good because of how it puts the audience at ease watching it. I was never more comfortable watching a show this year than Flying Witch, making it my choice for the Best Anime of 2016.



    Hey everyone! Please consider donating to my Patreon, which can be found here. Spread the link and even if you can't donate, send a link to someone who may be interesting in reading critical reviews from a cynical man!
  9. [​IMG]

    I'm tired, I'm crotchety, let's get this over with so we can end 2016.


    So... those past three months were a trip, right?

    Honestly, as I'm writing this, I just finished watching one show on this list, and all I can say is that I just didn't care about this season. Like, at all. Now usually there's one or two titles that will wow me and force me to watch if only because of how compelling the show is, but even then, there were just too many titles to choose from. There were so many shows that were nothing but flash, Moe, and genre tropes that the few shows that did stand out were weakened because of it. I've heard nothing but praise from Yuri On Ice, but I didn't watch it just because I was on burn out from the season. I had to watch three of the four shows here in the past week just because I needed something to talk about that wasn't trash.

    If I'm coming off as overtly harsh here, it's not intentional, believe me. I'm getting over a fairly annoying cold and I spent all day just wrapped in a blanket trying to feel somewhat better. So what better time to write a review of the shows I've seen than now?

    I'm bad at transitioning to my actual reviews so... bleh!

    [​IMG]
    BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy

    Well I wasn't expecting this to get a sequel anytime soon!

    BBK/BRNK was a show that I covered back in the Winter of this year, and looking back on it, I enjoyed this show more than I think most people did. BBK had tight action scenes between giant robots, fun villains to follow, and was a mindless little action show to watch on a weekly basis. Granted, I took it as a mindless show even though the terminology and world building were confusing as all hell, but plot was never BBK's strong suit. It was always characters and characterization.

    Gentle Giants of the Galaxy picks up a few months after the first season and features our heroes fighting against other countries and their giant robots, all of whom are manipulated by a mysterious benefactor, so Azuma and friends must stop the mysterious benefactor, even if they have to team up with the villains from last season!

    Gentle Giants keeps the action fast and intense, which is always a good sign for a show that excelled in its action scenes, but drops the ball a lot with its characters this time. There are some good moments from our heroes working with the villains of last season and understanding them, but there are just too many superfluous characters this time around. There were three main factions last season, with the heroes and villains composing of five people each, the benefactor's team which consisted of ten people, but those ten hardly featured into the plot except to set up conflicts for this season. Now that they're here, they're joined by 11 new characters that are subordinates for the new big bad, and I couldn't tell you thing one about their personalities or names, except for Azuma's sister, who is best described as being obnoxious and rude.

    I couldn't ignore the story anymore, seeing as to how it factored heavily into the episodes, explaining why things are they way they are, why the giant robots exist, and what their bonds are with humans. Look, I'm not saying that the first season was a masterpiece by any stretch of the word, but it knew what it was focusing on. The story was simple; go to this place and find Azuma's mom. Simple and effective. When you complicate things, it requires more effort to explain them, and BBK/BRNK did spend time trying to explain them, but they made several missteps because the series was complicated enough as is.

    I still enjoyed my time with BBK/BRNK as an action show, and I still think the first season holds up fairly well, but the second season isn't nearly as focused and well executed as it was before.

    [​IMG]
    Bungou Stray Dogs Season 2

    Talk about a sequel that surpasses the first season in every way, shape, and form. Typically sequels aren't as good as the original, despite Bungou Stray Dogs being a split cour and not two seperately developed series, but this season rocked on nearly every conceivable level.

    We actually had two different stories happen in this season, with the first four episodes being a prequel for the best character in the series, Dazai, as we explore his past through his best friend Oda. It's short, but the impact of those four episodes were so impactful and efficient that I'd be damned pressed to not call it the best arc of the series so far. Then we had eight episodes dedicated to the main conflict, which was a war between two Japanese superpowered author agencies, with the good guys being the Armed Detective Agency, and the bad guys being the Port Mafia, but then you included a group of American super powered authors called the Guild, which consisted of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and the main man himself, H.P Lovecraft.

    The second part of the series was let down a bit because of how quickly it went through the actual war between the three groups. I had No problem with the prequel story because of hos great it was, but the longer it went on, the less time the actual main conflict would last, and eight episodes simply wasn't enough time to cover a huge war between these factions. Hell, each episode resulted in a member of the Guild being defeated in some way, so it was just a matter of time before the final showdown between each group. The actual fight scenes were fun as were the characters, but the story just rushed from Point A to Point B without any reason as to why we went there.

    The moments that were great in Bungou Stray Dogs were still great, and it beat the hell out of the first season as its fairly slow, understated pace, so I don't regret sticking with it at all. I just wish that the show was able to stick the landing a bit better than it did.

    [​IMG]
    Drifters

    Okay, I may get some flack for this one, but... I didn't like Drifters. Or at least, I didn't like it as much as many others did.

    Kouta Hirano is an author that is known primarily for two things; he's the man that made Hellsing, and he LOVES his violence. A Kouta Hirano series lives and breathes on its action and the characters that cause it, and Hellsing delivered that on all fronts with Alucard, Alexander Anderson, Seras, Integra, the Major, and a whole host of others that just made that series so damn fun. Drifters is trying to replicate that same success, but it doesn't do it as well as its predecessor.

    Drifters stars several major historical figures as they're thrown into a magical world with one single goal; fight for the being that put them there. There are two factions of historical figures, one being the Ends, or villains, and the other being the Drifters, who aren't exactly heroes, but at least they're fighting for good causes. Drifters succeeds on many fronts for me. The action is top notch and there are several interesting ideas in play, like the fact that the Drifters and the native inhabitants on this world cannot speak the same language, so there's a clear communication divide between the two of them that I'm shocked isn't explored more in anime. However, our biggest problem comes from one key factor... I'm and American.

    Normally I have no problem watching anime because usually there are subtitles for me to understand and I don't necessarily need Japanese knowledge in order to fully enjoy a show. I can watch a show like Bungou Stray Dogs without a problem because while most of the characters are based off of Japanese authors, they never once reference their own lives and works in the series. They're their own characters that aren't tied to the actual people they're based on. Drifters is entirely based on being familiar with the historical figures that they draw, and they're fairly obscure characters to Western audiences. Figures that Oda Nobunaga and Joan of Arc should be familiar to some people, if not the average historian, but for figures like Shimazu Toyohisa, Nasu no Yoichi, Scipio Africanus, and Abe no Seimei, your average Western viewer will have no idea who they are. Adding on to that, they'll make references to their own pasts and the relationship they have with others, alienating even more viewers.

    No you may say that it shouldn't matter if the story is told well, and that's the problem at its heart. The story is simply fine. It's nothing great, and it pales in comparison to Hellsing, which I would say Drifters was whole-heartingly ripping off if it wasn't for Kouta Hirano writing the damn thing. I tried really hard to give Drifters a chance, and while I certainly did enjoy the action and animation (good God the animation on any Kouta Hirano project is amazing), I couldn't break past the fact that I had no idea who any of these people were or why I should care about them. Character goes a long way in a series like this.

    [​IMG]
    Keijo!!!!!!!!

    Well this was certainly the most insane show of the season. I have no idea how Keijo!!!!!!!! exists or why it exists, and the fact that it's so ridiculous and out of control is astounding to me. And... I adore this show. No really, I think Keijo!!!!!!!! is a downright great show with a lot of charm and humor to it.

    Now, stop me if you've heard this one before, but Keijo!!!!!!!! is about a fictional sport of the same name where women fight each other on top of a floating stage and compete to knock each other off of it. The catch is that each contestant can only use their boobs and their asses. No hands! And so we have a sport where women dress in swimsuits, slam their asses and breasts into each other, and give ridiculous sounding names to each of their moves, like the Vacuum Butt Cannon, Gate of Bootylon, Titty Hypnosis, and Buttack on Titan. Yes, seriously.

    So why is this show actually one of the best shows of the season and not a complete joke like so many other fan-service heavy shows? Well, to put it simply, it doesn't feel like fan-service. I know that may sound crazy given the premise and moves I just listed, but Keijo!!!!!!!! treats itself like a sports anime first and a fan-service anime second. It's like wrestling where while you see a bunch of ripped shirtless men fight each other in close combat, it's never sexualized. The sport takes center stage here, and Keijo!!!!!!!! wisely uses that to its advantage, making the fan-service straight up comedy. It's funny to watch a women use her erect nipple for a judo throw because there's no way in the world that it should be physically possible or legal in any sport, but there's never once any being embarrassed about their moves or the sport itself, and the women are never once objectified or sexualized by men. Hell, I think there are only three guys in the entire series, and only one of them is relevant to the actual plot.

    But the key thing that makes the show stand out above the rest is that there's a general sense of camaraderie here. Even when the girls are fighting each other and pulling out all of the stops once the timer starts, they'll always say good game afterwards and give advice for one another. There's never any petty arguments or smack talking outside of the ring, and if there is, it's usually for character motivated reason and not just to make more conflict. It's easy to make an anime that has women in tight clothes and forces them to fight against each other, but it's much harder to make me care about the sport and the characters, and Keijo!!!!!!!! honest to God accomplishes that. Who'da thunk?

    OVERALL THOUGHTS

    God this season sucked.

    Drifters was the worst for how much of an uphill battle it had against me, BBK follows shortly after for being solid, but suffering a bit too much from too many new characters, and then you had Keijo!!!!!!!! and Bungou Stray Dogs.

    While it was a tough call, I gave the nod to, and I can't believe I'm saying this, Keijo!!!!!!!! as being the best anime of Fall 2016. I'd much prefer 12 episodes that told a solid story than 12 episodes that told one story very well and another story not as well, but still good. Wrap your head around that one.

    [​IMG]
    KEIJO!!!!!!!!
    --------------------------
    BUNGOU STRAY DOGS
    BBK/BRNK: GENTLE GIANTS OF THE GALAXY
    --------------------------
    DRIFTERS​



    We all good? Great, cause I've got a date with an Advil cocktail and chugging away at the 2016 lists. Until then!
  10. [​IMG]

    Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas from The Critical Order!


    Tis the season everyone! It's finally winter, people are out spending time with their loved ones, you're celebrating whatever holiday you celebrate, eating delicious food, and warming up with some hot cocoa, apple cider, or a nice fireplace. I'm personally doing all three! I call it apple cocoa.

    So with the year winding down and only seven days remaining until 2017, I figure let's get the Seasonal Orders out of the way early so we all can spend time with our families and take a few days off. Lord knows I need them. So here are the plans for the next three months here at the Critical Order!

    TWITTER

    I hate Twitter. I find Twitter pointless and I think it only serves to create drama, spread misinformation, and put a person's worth solely on how many followers they have. Still, I can't deny that having a Twitter makes yourself more marketable, so the Critical Order will be getting a Twitter starting January 1st, 2017.

    If you're expecting me to be posting random information about my life, sorry to say, but that won't be happening anytime soon. The Twitter account is going to be solely business and will be used to spread links around, occasionally muse about a major event that's happening in film, video games, or anime. So say for the upcoming Switch presentation, you may have coverage from my Twitter instead of a full post, normal stuff like that. This is all just in the effort to spread the site around and to grow even more than in 2016. 2016 was the biggest year for the site, where we nearly doubled our readership! So in an effort to keep up with the times, you'll be able to hear and see posts on the Twitter as well as on Channel Awesome, Facebook, Google, and Patreon. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-laaaaaa.

    2016 IN REVIEW

    Speaking of doing things as soon as 2017 rolls around, it's time for my Best and Worst of the Year Lists! These take a huge amount of time to work on, but with most of the lists already written and ranked, it's now mostly about formatting and actually writing the damned posts. We still have four lists this year, and each list will be published three days apart from each other. So these lists are...

    The Top 5 Anime of 2016 - January 4th
    The Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016 - January 7th
    The Top 5 Video Games of 2016 - January 10th
    The Top 10 Best Movies of 2016 - January 13th

    Same as last year, and man oh man will I have a lot to say about these lists. Tune in for each list in the beginning of the month. As always, I'm going to take a little break afterwards, where we'll have either a review of The Lego Batman Movie to welcome 2017, or something else. Haven't really decided on that yet, but you'll see me back in early February the latest.

    MOVIES

    I won't be taking that long of a break though, because 2017 already has a killer lineup for the first third of the year. Seriously, there are so many interesting movies coming out (and one unmitigated disaster) that I can't help but be excited. I know that reviews are always subject to change, but ehre are the first batch of movies that I plan on reviewing

    Split
    The Lego Batman Movie
    Fifty Shades Darker
    A Cure For Wellness
    Logan
    Beauty and the Beast (2017)
    Power Rangers
    Ghost in the Shell


    Also, with only a week left of 2016 left, just to finish off some house cleaning, I may try and get out a review of Rouge One: A Star Wars Story... or I just may say screw it and focus on making sure that my lists are well written and good. If you want my opinion on Rouge One here it is; it's fine, if very predictable, ends exactly how you expect a prequel to A New Hope would end, and felt perfectly serviceable for what it was. If you're demanding a review of it, please let me know and I'll try my best to get one out. If you're fine without one, just say so and I'll accommodate.

    VIDEO GAMES

    As always, the beginning of the year is a pretty slow time for games. That being said, there's going to be a lot of interesting information released in January, so that'll keep me going throughout the year. We'll have the full reveal of the Nintendo Switch on the 12th of January, as well as a Final Fantasy event at the end of January as well. So there's going to be a lot of press releases to look forward to, though game releases are going to be a bit sparse honestly. The games that I'm interesting in are as follows.

    Berserk: The Band of the Hawk
    Horizon: Zero Dawn
    South Park: The Fractured But Whole
    The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


    Mostly there are a ton of big releases to look forward too, as well as Switch details, so only time will tell for next year's releases.

    ANIME

    Alright, time to be perfectly honest; there's nothing really all that good coming out next winter. I tried desperately to watch a few previews of shows t find something worth wild to watch, but I couldn't find anything. I have literally three shows that are interesting, and even then I had to stretch out one more title to hopefully enjoy. We're all just waiting until spring though when we can get back Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, Blood Blockade Battlefront, Berserk, and Yuki Yuna is a Hero. So... here.

    Little Witch Academia
    Youjo Senki
    Yuuka
    March Comes in Like a Lion


    ONE PIECE: UNLIMITED RETROSPECTIVE

    A huge thanks to you all for being patient with my One Piece: Unlimited Retrospective update. From here on out, I plan on being much more focuses and concentrated when it comes to getting each arc out in a timely fashion. I've already started to write the summary for the next arc, Syrup Town, and should have that down in early February with the Baratie arc ready to release in March. I'm going to plan on getting a new arc out every month in a half or so, bu I need to stress that it's just a side project as of right now.

    Making each entry takes a lot of time, since I have to go back and read the manga, write down significant beats, put it down, then I usually come back after about a week or so and reread the arc to make sure my opinions and thoughts haven't changed or if I came up with new thoughts or opinions. Then I write a couple of paragraphs in between reviews so I don't have to slog through an entry over the course of several hours.

    That being said, if you want me to focus on getting these entries out in a timelier manner, I will certainly be happy to oblige. I love to talk about One Piece, and if you would rather me review fewer movies/games in order to focus on delivering more One Piece, then feel free to say so and it will be done.




    And that's all I've got for now! So from me to you, have a happy New Year and happy holidays! I'll see you all in a few days for the Best Fall Anime of 2016 and the 2016 in Review lists!
  11. [​IMG]

    It's a breath of fresh air and a fantastic way to end 2016.


    I don't usually have any regrets as a critic, but they occasionally can rear their head in unexpected ways. I may be a bit remorseful over some review scores that I give out, but the biggest regrets I have are when my end of the year lists come out. Not because I feel like I put a movie in a place that it didn't deserve, because I may see a movie later on that came out the year before, and instantly regret not having seen it, reviewed it, and praised it to death when it actually mattered. Case in point, Whiplash.

    Whiplash was a 2014 drama made by Damien Chazelle that followed a drummer as he was trying to improve himself for his abusive instructor, played by J.K. Simmons. It won three Oscars that year and I would easily have ranked it as being one of the Top 3 movies of that year. It was that damned good. But I couldn't say or do anything about it, since my list was published over a month before I saw Whiplash. That's just the name of the game though. You can't see every movie that came out during a year, so you have to pick and choose the ones that you do want to see.

    So when I heard that Damien Chazelle was making a new movie called La La Land, an original movie musical based off of the golden age of Hollywood cinema and Broadway musicals, I was immediately interested and hounded the release date of it. I wanted to see this movie desperately, and I went into it with expectations through the roof. This is my atonement for never talking about Whiplash, because La La Land is absolutely phenomenal from beginning to end.

    [​IMG]

    La La Land is a movie centered around two aspiring artists in Los Angeles, Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling. Mia is trying to become a successful actress while Sebastian is trying to start his own jazz club where he can play the kind of music he loves. And what follows is pretty much a movie about their dreams, their encounters, and their relationship between one another.

    On the surface, La La Land is an exceptionally simple movie. It wants to tell a story about aspiring artists that want to follow their dreams in a world that doesn't allow it. We've heard this story a million times before, but La La Land polishes that concept to a mirror shine. It's a movie that's universally relatable for how simple it is and uses that to wow the audience with beautiful visuals and some bright songs. This is a movie that never once takes the cynical route that brings the audience down. It has serious moments where reality does set in for them, but it's still heightened by a sense of optimism portrayed through the music.

    And yeah, let's just talk about the songs in the movie. Can I just say how refreshing it is to hear an original score in a movie? I'm serious, actively pay attention to most movie musicals that come out nowadays and really take a listen to them. You have either Disney movies that do have originality to them, but they follow a very specific formula for how songs are structured. You'll have the "I Want" song, you'll have the song that's pushed in the trailers, you'll have the villain song, and the Act 2 "I've come so far on my journey song". Then you have jukebox musicals, which are fine by cater to a very specific audience, and the musical adaptations, which range from being alright to downright terrible. Every song in La La Land is new and always feels happy and toe tappingly fun.

    Songs like "Another Day of Sun", "City of Stars", and "Another Night" are catchy as all hell, and I nearly wept at how great "Audition [The Fools Who Dream]" was. Yes, a man like me had to contain a few tears at how good that song was. La La Land may be classified as a musical, but if you're expecting 10-15 songs like most typical musicals, you'll be sadly disappointed. "City of Stars" while a good song, is repeated four times over the course of the movie, and at first it was fine, it slowly got on my nerves before realizing that it became a motif for Mia and Sebastian.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the thing about La La Land; it exploits the idea of what heightened reality is. When you hear that phrase, you're probably wondering just what the hell that is. Is it like suspension of disbelief? Not really. Heightened reality means that everything becomes more like a dream. There are several extended sequences where all the characters do is dance in abstract locations, and then go back to their normal lives. These scenes are some of the best in the movie because so much is conveyed just through movement, music, and imagery. That's not to say that the script is poor, but when a musical tells a story through music instead of through dialogue, that's always a plus in my book.

    Everything about La La Land is so perfectly paced to the point where I can't imagine any scene being removed from the movie. Every scene is vital in one way, shape or form. Even the scenes that aren't as strong as other ones. There's a sequence revolving around John Legend that doesn't gel with the rest of the movie, but it's made acceptable because of how it eventually aids in the development of Sebastian and Mia. That being said, he presence ends with a song that doesn't fit with the rest of the score and sounds more like a John Legend sound that somehow walked into a classic movie musical soundtrack.

    Speaking of, hot damn do Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling own this movie. I was never the biggest Ryan Gosling fan, but he does one hell of a job here. I can't tell whether or not he's better here or in The Nice Guys, another one of the best movies of the year. And then you have Emma Stone, who dominates the movie towards the end. "Audition [The Fools Who Dream]" is Emma Stone's "I Dreamed a Dream", propelling her to the shortlist of Best Actress nominees for 2016. And you know what, she's not a half bad singer and dancer too. She sings all of her songs and does some fairly impressive tap work, which is always something that should be encouraged for actors in movie musicals.

    [​IMG]

    I just realized where if I go at my normal pace of dedicating an entire paragraph to a specific aspect of the movie I'm going to be here all day. So let's just do some rapid fire points for funsies.

    • The camera work here is fantastic and made me feel like I was on a pleasant roller coaster ride.
    • The Violet and Indigo aesthetic is to die for. Remember when movies had color in them and didn't always try to be super realistic? La La Land isn't afraid to be bright and fun.
    • Speaking of, La La Land is just an overall happy movie. I had a smile on my face the whole time!
    • Whoever decided to insert ballet sequences into this movie is a goddamn genius.
    • The retro Hollywood aesthetic is also to die for, appealing to old school cinema fans as well as fresh new audiences.
    • There's so much jazz in this movie that it's almost to die for.
    • I'm pretty sure that instead of this movie being a love letter to L.A., as most critics are calling it, it's more of a love letter to music than anything else. L.A. is there, but the main drama comes from the conflict that music creates. Yeah, Mia is an actress, but her issues are more about overcoming her insecurities and gaining confidence in her ability than decrying the acting business in Hollywood.
    • Seriously, can be just give Damien Chazelle an Oscar already? Please?

    When the credits rolled after the most justified ending I've seen since Kubo and the Two Strings, I just sat in the theatre listening to the music. I didn't want to leave the theatre. I didn't want my experience with La La Land to end. I wanted to sit and watch another viewing right away so I could appreciate all of the subtleties all over again and see plenty of new quirks that I didn't notice the first time. I want this movie on a damn loop so I can pore over it again, and again, and again. Is it the best movie of the year? I honestly don't know, but you can 100% guarantee that it'll be on my best films of 2016 list. I adored every last second with La La Land, even with the occasional flaw (seriously, John Legend is only here to promote a new single).

    Go. See. La La Land.

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Hey everyone! Please consider donating to my Patreon, which can be found here. Spread the link and even if you can't donate, send a link to someone who may be interesting in reading critical reviews from a cynical man!
  12. [​IMG]

    Pirates = Fat viking women and clowns.


    Looking back at some of the earlier arcs in One Piece is kind of a surreal experience, mostly because of how vastly different the series is now compared to how it started out in the late 90's. When I started this retrospective, I had been reading some of the bigger and more recent arcs of One Piece like the Dressrosa arc, which took up 10 volumes, and the Water Seven saga, which took up a dozen volumes. I'm used to extremely long and drawn out action stories from One Piece, so to go back to stories that could have been concluded in a volume or two is kind of bizarre to me. It's even more crazy when you realize in the first volume alone, we wrap up Romance Dawn, and two mini arcs before even getting to Orange Town, the first official story arc of the manga.

    Eiichiro Oda originally planned for One Piece to be about 12 volumes to tell its complete story, and with the pace of the first three volumes, it's fairly easy to believe that. Characterization is minimal, and the focus is more on introducing our characters to strange new enemies and explaining how the world works. So for the sake of my own sanity, we're going to cover what is essentially everything up until the Orange Town arc, and for the foreseeable future, entries like these are going to be short. Trust me, once we reach large arcs like Alabasta, you'll savor these shorter arcs.

    Following Romance Dawn and Luffy's departure from his town, Luffy falls into a whirlpool and drowns.

    THE END.

    Well actually, he hides himself in a barrel so he doesn't drown from his Devil Fruit powers, but is accidentally take aboard the ship of the dread pirate Alvida, a fat viking woman with a giant mace that is damned set she is the most beautiful person in the world. She has a cabin boy named Koby that is so scrawny and weak willed that he's been pretty much a slave to her for two years because he's been too damned scared to talk back to her. Koby also wound up on her ship because he thought he was getting onto a fishing boat, so Koby isn't exactly the smartest kid in the world.

    [​IMG]

    Needless to say, Koby finds the barrel that Luffy hid himself in and pops out of it only to discover he's now on Alvida's ship. When Alvida realizes that there's an intruder on her ship, she instantly assumes it's Roronoa Zolo, a bounty hunter in the area. When she finds out that it's just Luffy and that Koby let him out, Alvida declares Koby a traitor unless he says that Alvida is the smartest and most beautiful person in the world. Koby's about to do it, but Luffy is able to tell Koby he should stand up for himself and his dream, mainly to become an officer in the Navy. Koby tells Alvida to screw off, Alvida attempts to smash his head in with a mace, and Luffy punches her across the ocean to God only knows where. Koby and Luffy get a dingy from Alvida's crew, and they both set sail for the nearest Naval island so Koby can go enlist.

    Yeah, do you see what I mean about most of the early arcs being barebones with very little details. Most arcs are simple little affairs that end just as quickly as they start. That's fine for some series, but in One Piece. you can't help but feel that there was supposed to be more story in these earlier arcs. I'm happy that each chapter for the most part is self contained, but the downside is that any momentum that a story has is killed when stories are ended so quickly.

    Anyway, Koby and Luffy set sail for the nearest naval island, where they find that the town seems pretty peaceful. Pirates aren't around and the Navy seems to be keeping things under control. Once Luffy finds out the Zolo the bounty hunter is on the island, he tells Koby that he wants to recruit Zolo. Just mentioning his name though has everyone in the town freak out and panic. Yeah, saying the name of an infamous bounty hunter that's imprisoned on your island isn't exactly the best thing to do, let alone say you want to team up with him. Luffy's kind of an idiot like that. What's stranger though is that when Koby says he wants to work under Captain Morgan, the head of the Navy branch on the island, everyone panics worse than when Luffy mentioned Zolo. Strange...

    Anywho, Luffy and Koby go tot he island's Naval base, but instead of entering it for Koby to apply, Luffy looks at the prisoner's yard and sees Zolo strung up to a post motionless. Zolo is probably one of the coolest characters in the series due to his stone cold disposition juxtaposing with his lack of common sense, but there was always a weird little tick in the earlier volumes of One Piece with him. You see, in the Japanese version of the anime and manga, he was called Roronoa ZORO, to homage the swordsman Zoro. In America though, he's called Zolo to distinguish himself from that very same reference so that it's not blatant, but you can still tell that Zoro was the inspiration for his name. What's bizarre though is that there are times in this arc where people will call him Zoro while others call him Zolo. Hell, Luffy flip-flips between those two names on a whim once they eventually reach Port Town. I don't know exactly why there such a weird inconsistency between the two names in the early volumes, but it thankfully ended by the next arc and his name was permanently confirmed as Zolo.

    [​IMG]

    Zolo is being held prisoner for protecting a little girl from a pack of wild dogs that belonged to Captain Morgan's son, Helmeppo. Helmeppo is a little piece of garbage that walks around the town doing whatever he wants under the threat that if he didn't get his way, he would "tell his daddy on you". So Helmeppo pretty much has been going around abusing his father's power and being a spoiled brat. However, Helmeppo and Zolo made a deal; if Zolo could survive for 30 days tied to a post with no food or water, Helmeppo would drop all charges and let him go. Zolo agreed, and he's been tied to the pole for about two weeks.

    Luffy asks Zolo to join his crew, which Zolo declines. Pirates and pirate bounty hunters don't mix all that well. At that moment, the little girl that Zolo protected comes in with food for Zolo as a thank-you for rescuing her, but Helmeppo catches her and stomps the food into the dirt before having his men throw her out of the prison, laughing all the while. The girl leaves crying, but before Luffy and Koby leave, Zolo asks them to feed him the food that the girl brought, even though it was stomped into the ground. Koby gives Zolo the food, and Zolo requests that they find the little girl and tell her that it was delicious and that he ate every bite.

    Luffy and Koby meet the girl, where she explains everything that happened to Zolo and how he protected her. Luffy says that he knew Zolo was a good guy and that he'll stick around until Zolo is free and ask him to join the crew then. Luffy overhears Helmeppo walking outside though, laughing that he's going to kill Zolo in three days and that he outright lied to Zolo to manipulate him. Luffy handles this well by cold-cocking Helmeppo in the face. Everyone in the towns flees at this, because Helmeppo screams that he's going to tell Captain Morgan that Luffy hit him. So since Luffy's a public enemy on the island now, he just goes off to break Zolo out of jail and have him join the crew.

    [​IMG]

    So who is this evil and feared Captain Morgan that makes the whole town shake in fear and inspires terror into the hearts of man? Just some asshole with an huge ego. Yeah. The very first thing he says is that he's "the greatest" and that he can do whatever he wants because of it. You know Morgan, you're a captain in the Navy. CAPTAIN. You are not an admiral, you are not a vice admiral, you're not even a commodore. Factually, you are not the greatest, and even in comparison with the rest of the captains in the Navy, you don't have a Devil Fruit power. Hell, you're not even stationed in the Grand Line. You're in the East Blue, the tamest and weakest of the four man oceans. Get over yourself man. Oh, and he hits Helmeppo for being a weakling and tells Helmeppo to kill the little girl because she broke the law. There's being a villain, and then there's being an evil asshole. Morgan's an asshole, but just because he's so arrogant and prideful, but not in the interesting ways.

    Luffy goes to the prison to tell Zolo of the deal, but his reaction is still "No". However, once he finds out that he's going to be executed, he agrees as long as Luffy can get his three swords back from Morgan. Luffy says sure, then uses his Gum-Gum powers to launch himself onto the roof... and damage Captain Morgan's statue of himself. Morgan immediately orders Luffy's execution, but after a long series of events where Luffy kidnaps Helmeppo to show where Zolo's swords are, Luffy gets back to the prison to give Zolo his swords right before Morgan tries to kill Zolo himself. Luffy and Zolo team up to fight Morgan, and Morgan goes down in one hit. Wuss.

    Immediately afterwards, the entire town is celebrating Morgan's defeat and Zolo agrees to join Luffy's crew. As for Koby, he's about to try to join the Navy, but Zolo points out that if the Navy found out that he was with Alvida, let alone Luffy, then they'll deny him on the merits that he may be a spy for pirates. The Navy approaches Luffy, Zolo, and Koby and says that event hough they're thankful for beating Morgan, it's still pretty embarrsing that a pirate was able to beat a Naval captain, so they politely ask them to leave the island. Luffy and Zolo start to leave, but Koby outright denies that he was with Luffy. Luffy then hits Koby repeatedly to make the Naval officers think that they're not friends at all, allowing Koby to finally ask to join the Naval. No longer suspicious of him, the Navy accepts Koby as they all give Luffy and Zolo a salute as they sail away, off towards their next adventure.

    Captain Morgan is a terrible villain, one dimensional at best, outright badly written at worst. As a closing for Koby, even though he barely stuck around for one volume, we still got the impression that he was a good kid with a good heart that truly believes in justice. But the real standout of this plot line is the Navy. The Navy will become one of the primary antagonists of the series, but here we not only see some try terrible people in positions of power, but that there are genuinely good people working in the Navy. Some people just want to do good in the world, and we see that underneath corruption, oppression, and questionable morals, normal sailors in the Navy still believe in law and order.

    Once Luffy and Zolo have left, they continue to sail blindly until the most logical of things happen. A giant bird comes down and eats Luffy. So... that's a thing that happened. Luffy gets taken to a small town called Orange Town, which is the stronghold of the feared captain Buggy the Clown. Buggy's an interesting villain in that he's the most recurring villain in the series. We'll see him nearly half a dozen times as of this date, and each time he may be an ally or an enemy to Luffy. I wouldn't go so far to say that he's one of the best villains in the series, but he's definitely one of the most enjoyable, and the first character besides Luffy to have a Devil Fruit.

    Yes, Buggy's ability is that of the Chop-Chop fruit, where he can separate his body at will and control them autonomously as long as his feet are on the ground. It's a cool little ability if only for the fact that we won't be seeing another Devil Fruit user for quite some time, four arcs from now to be specific. Plus Buggy has some fairly interesting history, but we'll get into that later.

    [​IMG]

    Once Luffy gets taken to Orange Town, Zolo immediately tries to follow him, but instead gets ambushed by three lackeys of Buggy the Clown adrift at see. He promptly beats the life out of them, letting them live as long as they can take him to Orange Town. Along the way, the three tell him that they were sent adrift by a thief that stole their treasure, their boat, and left them in the middle of a storm. Luffy escapes from the bird and falls into Orange Town, only to fall in front of some of Buggy's goons... and the woman that stole from the three pirates at sea. Luffy beats the pirates and asks who the woman is. She introduces herself as Nami, a thief that steals from pirates.

    Nami is, frankly, one of the best written characters in the series. She's always intelligent, is able to explain and understand situations well, and just has one of the best backstories in the series. Oda LOVES to go into explicit details about his characters backstories, dedicating sometimes several volumes at exploring a character's life before meeting Luffy. Nami is the first member of the crew to have her backstory revealed, and it's simply great. One of the best arcs of the series, Arlong Park, is dedicated just to her character development and her finding a place within the Straw Hat crew. She's sly, but you can tell she has a heart and looks out for people, but in the beginning of the series, we only know that she's looking for 100,000,000 berries, the currency of the universe, in order to buy a certain town.

    You wouldn't be able to tell from her first meeting with Luffy, whom she sells out to Buggy almost instantly. She ties Luffy up and gives him to Buggy, hoping to wipe away Buggy's grudge against her and steal more of his treasure. Buggy and his crew celebrate in the one way they can; have a huge party and shoot cannonballs at the town! Buggy blows up an entire block of Orange Town for fun with his special Buggy Cannon Balls, and chokes one of his crewmates to death for insinuating that Buggy has a big red nose (even though Buggy mishears nearly everything people say to him). In order to prove that Nami is loyal to him though, Buggy tells her to shoot a Buggy Ball directly at Luffy. She hesitates, only for Luffy to tell her that being a pirate is never that simple. So Nami says screw it, saves Luffy with the help of Zolo, who finally shows up, and launches the Buggy Ball right at Buggy's face as they make their escape.

    Zolo gets injured while running away, so the crew needs to rest for a moment. There's a brief chapter about a dog who's defending his owner's store from Buggy's pirates, even though the owner died that's fairly touching, but whose only contribution to the story is to show that Luffy's a good soul to Nami that will defend both humans and animals from bullies. The town's mayor appears during this whole sequence and explains how gosh darn it, he's not going to let Buggy destroy his town! So he charges to Buggy's base and demands a fight! He then immediately gets choked by Buggy's Chop-Chop powers. Give the mayor some credit for at least doing something. Luffy saves his life, and it's time for Luffy and Buggy to finally square off.

    [​IMG]

    At least it would be, if it wasn't for Zolo coming in to fight Buggy's second mate, Cabaji. The fight happens, and if you're ever wondering if I'll go into detail about fight scenes during this retrospective, let me just make it clear right now that I probably won't. If there are major character developments or revelations during a fight scene, then yes I will talk about it in depth. One Piece is an action manga at its heart, so trying to describe each fight scene is pointless since there are so many of them. Needless to say, while the fight scenes are cool, it's going to be hard to talk about them in a text summary like this, so I'll just skip to the good parts. Zolo beats Cabaji and Luffy is about toe fight Buggy, only for Buggy to say that Luffy's hat reminds him of a certain pirate he once knew. Luffy asks if he knew Shanks, only for Buggy to say that they were actually crewmates!

    Buggy and Shanks were both apprentices on a pirate ship when they were kids, and both had different dreams once they grew up. Shanks just wanted to sail the sea and be at peace, while Buggy wanted to become the wealthiest man alive. Shanks agrees to disagree with Buggy, and they continue to live their lives until their crew finds the Chop-Chop fruit. Buggy come sup with a plan to sell the Chop-Chop fruit and become rich through that, but he accidentally eats it because of Shanks because anime logic (he stuffs it in his mouth to hide it from Shanks but accidentally eats it when Shanks is alive). Luffy laughs at the story, so Buggy plunges three daggers into Luffy's hat, making Luffy extra pissed at Buggy now.

    While Luffy and Buggy are fighting, Nami is trying to find a way to steal Buggy's treasure, but Buggy spots Nami and stops fighting Luffy to try and get his treasure back from Nami. Buggy unleashes a technique where all of his body parts, minus his feet, fly around rapidly and hit everything they see. Luffy defends Nami, but when Buggy tries to reassemble himself, he notices that he's only just a pair of feet, a pair of hands, and his head. While Buggy had his body part's flying around, Nami was able to wrangle all of them up and tie them together. With no way to attack Luffy or Nami, Luffy hits Buggy with all he has and sends Buggy flying off of the island.

    With the town saved, the townspeople return and try to figure out who saved them from Buggy's wrath. As soon as Luffy says that they're pirates, the townspeople immediately try to chase them out of town, not wanting to have another Buggy on their hands. The mayor wakes up after Luffy runs away with Zolo and Nami, only to personally chase them to the shore and thank them for everything that they did and that he's eternally grateful for saving their small town. Once they leave, Nami wonders where one of her loot bags went, which had about 500,000 berries. Luffy says that he left it for the townspeople in order to rebuild Orange Town, only for Nami to beat him senseless, saying to never give any of her money away again. And so the crew sails off into the sunset, ready for their next adventure...

    [​IMG]

    This post took me way longer than I ever intending it to take, and even longer than I intended it to be lengthwise. The early One Piece arcs are surprisingly dense, with later arcs focusing mostly on intense fight scenes that can be described rather easily. Here, not so much. So much happens in the span of three volumes that it felt bizarre to shorten them into their own individual entries. Hell, The Alvida stuff all happens in Chapter 2 of the series!

    For a beginning of the series, the first three arcs are perfectly fine for establishing the world and our main characters. Koby proved to be a pretty worthless character, only appearing for one volume and being pegged as being of the main crew members if you just read the first arc. One Piece changed a lot over 20 years, so seeing the beginning is quaint, but fun. You can tell that it's One Piece, but it has a lot more fun and comedy in it than later entries would. I'd almost argue it's like reading the original Dragon Ball compared to Dragon Ball Z; fun overall, if a bit different from what you might be used too.

    Next time, our small crew will continue to sail onward and meet a frightening new villain and pirate crew... and meet one of the most infuriating characters in the series.



    Hi everyone, thanks for reading the One Piece Retrospective! If you like what you see, please consider donating to my Patreon, which can be found here. Spread the link and even if you can't donate, send a link to someone who may be interesting in reading more about Luffy and his crew's adventure in the Grand Line!
  13. [​IMG]

    A video game triple feature to bang out the rest of 2016's games.


    There's a reason why I don't do Triple Features for video games. For a movie, it's pretty easy to condense a review down to about 3 or 4 paragraphs. Everyone has to watch the movie in the same way and opinions are formed based off our own personal experiences with the story, characters, music, and cinematography. It's easy to watch a movie and sum up your opinions, because you can sum up movies pretty simply. Video games... not so much.

    Video games are usually extremely long affairs, at least in comparison to movies. If the average movie is about two hours long, then the length of the average video game can range anywhere from 8-40 hours depending on the genre. RPGs are typically longer, platformers are typically shorter. So you have to try and summarize more information, but then you also have to talk about the gameplay and interactivity of the game. Do these game mechanics work? What are the mechanics anyway? Are they fun? Are they easy to learn? Will I get bored of them in a couple of hours? All of these questions are relevant, and then you have the added bonus of talking about the game's graphics and aesthetics, which are determined based on the developer's ingenuity and the power of the console they're running on.

    There's way more information to summarize in a video game review, and trying to smash that all down into a short synopsis is difficult, even for full length reviews. Hell, if we're being perfectly honest, there are several games I reviewed in the past year that I wish I could have gone into more detail on, but couldn't without turning each review into a full blown essay.

    So why am I doing a Triple Feature for three video games? Well, it's because this month is going to be extremely busy for me in terms of reviews. I'm working on a Top 10 list right now to be released early next week, plus I'm going to try and get out reviews for La La Land, Rouge One, The Founder, Gods of Egypt, the Best Fall Anime list, and then start pounding away at the Best/Worst of 2016 lists. For my own sanity, this needed to happen. So let's hope this little experiment works starting with...

    [​IMG]
    Kirby Planet Robobot (June 10th, 2016; 3DS)​

    Kirby
    games are always some of the most polished platformers that Nintendo puts out. Yes, like most Nintendo franchises, the basic formula never changes significantly, but the basic formula of Kirby games are so much fun that you hardly begin to notice until you start playing them one after the other. Even then, Kirby games can actually be pretty experimental, with games like Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Kirby Mass Attack, and Kirby Tilt n' Tumble being some key examples.

    Planet Robobot follows the same basic premise laid out in every Kirby platformer, where Kirby needs to go on an adventure, eat enemies, gain their abilities, and save the day from whatever villain it is this time. Robobot uses the same engine as Kirby Triple Deluxe, the last game in the series to appear on the 3DS, and it shows. It's not that the game looks bad, but it's easy to tell that there really wasn't any significant effort put into making this game stand out from the rest of the Kirby series.

    If you'l recall, I really enjoyed Triple Deluxe and would probably call it one of my favorite games in the series. I just seemed like the perfection of everything that Kirby was building up to; bright graphics, happy music, an easy to beat, difficult to complete mentality, and some genuinely fun bosses. That's all still present in Robobot, but it feels like there was less ingenuity in the design. Kirby can use a mech suit, which does look cool, but it plays the exact same as Kirby. The only thing that's different is that you gain a punching ability and your powerups are slightly stronger. That's all there is to it.

    Don't get me wrong, it's still a fine experience, but you can tell that Planet Robobot was made to fill out a schedule. There's nothing fresh inside here and nothing that Triple Deluxe didn't do better. I still had a smile on my face, but man did it take me a while to muster up the energy to beat the game.

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    Paper Mario: Color Splash (October 7th, 2016; Wii U)​

    Ah, this game. From the moment Color Splash was announced back in February, people were ready to tear this game apart. The Paper Mario series is extremely beloved to many a Nintendo fans hearts, mostly because of the first two games. Hell, I would even go so far as to say that the original Paper Mario is one of my favorite games. Fans of the series have been clamoring for a return to form, and when Color Splash was announced and looked like another Sticker Star, the most universally hated game in the series, people were calling this game trash. I personally had middling thoughts on Sticker Star, but I never thought it was as awful as people say it was. I'd even go so far to say that Paper Jam was worse than Sticker Star, but that's neither here nor there. So I went into Color Splash with some optimism, and you know what, I had a good time with it.

    The game follows Mario having to restore color to an island called Prism Island after a group of Shy Guys sucked the color clean out of it. What follows is a very segmented game where you travel around a world map, go to levels, get a paint star, then continue opening up new levels until you get to a boss that's holding a Big Paint Star. What made this journey work for me was that each world felt like it was actually worth exploring. No two worlds were the same, and that made me excited to see what would happen whenever I entered it. One world was a giant quiz show, another was an epic pirate quest, another was becoming a chef and making the world's best steak, while my favorite level was going into a haunted hotel and calming down the ghosts that lived there.

    Color Splash was described as more of an adventure game than and RPG, and with that mindset, the game strangely works. Granted, the game is always at its weakest during combat, where you have to use a finite amount of cards to attack enemies. There was never a substantial reason to fight enemies except to gain more paint to paint the world, but after a couple of hours of playing I never ran the risk of running out of paint. Boss battles are somewhat better where only one specific item can beat the boss and you need to use it at the right time, and the game at least gives you hints on what items you need to use to do it.

    Color Splash is at its best though when you're just allowed to explore the levels, repaint them, talk to some genuinely funny Toads, and enjoy the worlds you go to. It took me about 25 hours to beat the game, and while I wish that it was more interesting in combat, the general experience was fun enough for me to give it a solid recommendation.

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    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (June 24th, 2016; Wii U)​

    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
    is certainly an experience. I can't say it's for everyone, but if it's your thing, then you'll love it. Granted, the market for this game is razor thin. You have to be in the strategy RPG, Japanophile, Idol, and Nintendo crowd to fully appreciate this game. I fit into about half of those groups, so my time with the game was pleasant, but not as great as it could have been.

    TMS#FE is a mix of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and the Fire Emblem series, though you probably can only see the former of the two. The Fire Emblem characters are relegated to summons and basic combat mechanics. That being said, Jesus Christ this game is complex when you're fighting. You can enter battles in parties of three, and your can have various types of attacks, like fire and ice, but then you also have different types of weapons that have different effects on enemies. So you have to worry about two kinds of resistances. Combat is based on huge combos, where characters are pretty much required to stream massive combos off of each other to do well in fights.

    The story, as sad as it is to say, is an incredibly generic anime plot, and I mean that in all of the worst ways. You're main character is loved by a bunch of women, you're trying to solve a huge mystery, everyone looks up to you and revolve their entire lives around you, and there's random magical elements that don't make much sense. Oh, and there's a fat American that doesn't even have an American voice actor, even though he's written as being a Japanophile bassist and only speaks fluent Japanese. Is that weird? I can't really tell.

    This is also an incredibly dense game, going upwards of 60 hours just to get through the story. I will say that some of the concepts and boss designs are cool, but those aren't enough to justify the story. It's great to string together long combos that deal a ton of damage, but that can only be fun for so long. It's a shame that putting two great franchises together can only make a somewhat okay game, but that's the world we live in. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is fine, but it's hardly the RPG that it could have been.

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  14. [​IMG]

    No gym leaders? WHAT KIND OF MADNESS IS THIS???


    It's been three years since the release of Pokemon X/Y, which if I remember correctly, were games that were supposed to usher in a new generation of Pokemon. The buildup for those games targeted that Pokemon was evolving and becoming something more than it had ever been before. Now with the power of hindsight, it's easy to see that X/Y weren't the revolution that anyone had hoped for, and actually were probably the most technical, yet traditional game in years.

    With Black/White, there was a genuine attempt to shakeup the formula with it. 150 new Pokemon, triple battles, rotation battles, fully alive worlds, and a story that was actually engaging and broke up the series formula. Hell, after you beat the Elite Four, you never even got the chance to fight the champion, you had to defeat Team Plasma once and for all. X/Y had a less engaging story and went back to making a game that adhered to traditional Pokemon rules. Eight gyms, the Elite Four, beating the villain team after the seventh gym, frequent friendly rival encounters, you name it. The only real innovations were Fairy Pokemon, which were a neat idea but weren't as readily available as I would have hoped, the jumped the 3D, which made the game look great, but that was about all, and EV Training, which helped balance out the competitive and meta game, but I've never really been interested in all of that.

    Bottom line, X/Y were good, but not great. I'd probably say they're just as good as Gen I in hindsight, but not as refined or as experimental as Gen V and Gen II were.

    Gen VII though is a different beast entirely. This is the radical shift that I think X/Y were trying to be, but couldn't quite stick the landing. Sun/Moon truly seemed advanced and are the new standard for making a "progressive" Pokemon game.

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    As is the case with most Pokemon games I talk about, I'm not going to go over the basic mechanics of the series. You catch monsters, train them, teach them moves, and fight each other. It hasn't changed in 20 years, and it isn't going to change anytime soon. I stand by the fact that every mainline game in the series is fundamentally the same, so let's just agree to look at all of the new additions to this game. And just for full disclosure, I chose Moon as my version with Rowlet as my starter (Popplio is an affront to God), and I also went into this game doing a blind Nuzlocke because I clearly hate myself.

    If I was to tell you the one thing about Sun/Moon that is different from any other game in the series, I probably would be hard pressed to name what the one big feature is. Sun/Moon build on all of the basic tenants of the franchise in new and interesting ways.

    For example, I never realized it until this Gen, but every NPC you encounter is previous games all have the same build. With the exception of AZ last Gen, every trainer is always the same height and may have a different physique. Here, every trainer looks unique and have heir own height, skin tones, hair styles, animations, and feel like actual human beings. Hell, most trainers don't even stand in one place waiting to fight you. They'll walk around a route and challenge you if they see you. Sometimes they might be doing their own thing and not notice you. No one is just standing there waiting for you to challenge them, mired like a statue.

    Speaking of routes, but every route is now fully 3D! Routes have height, terrain, hills, peaks, valleys, crevices, and there is no grid lock pattern for how to move around. I never realized it back in X/Y, but even though you could freely skate around in 3D, as soon as you hopped off them you were forced into the same grid based movement structures that have been present since the very beginning. It's a small thing, but wow is it noticeable.

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    I don't think I even realized this until I sat down to write this, but Sun/Moon have made gym battles fun again by ditching them entirely. Gyms are now called "Trials", and while there are technically 7 trials in the game, there are also 4 grand trials after a certain number of trails. With 11 "gym leaders", the game feels bigger than ever before, but what makes me even happier is that now trials can range from a whole variety of challenges. One has you fighting a bunch of Wishiwashi's, an adorable new water Pokemon, before fighting a big Totem Pokemon, or a traditional RPG boss if you will. Another has you gather ingredients for a dinner that summons the Totem Pokemon, but for those that fear there are still no more tough "gym leaders" to fight, you can still fight every Trail captain somehow and the Grand Trial leaders, called Kahunas, are the exact same as normal gym leaders.

    Also, to the relief of everyone that is playing this game, HM's are finally, thankfully, gone. Back in the day, you usually had to lug around a Pokemon that knew moves like Surf, Waterfall, Dive, or Strength just to progress in the game. Now, with the press of a button, you can instantly use Surf, Strength, Fly, or any other previous HM move without needing to teach it to a Pokemon. You can still learn those moves, but they're all now TM's, which make the game feel much less restrictive when I knew I had to basically overwrite all of my Water Pokemon's moves just to teach it HM's (Hoenn).

    As for the new Pokemon, my reactions as positive, but a bit less enthusiastic than I had hoped. There are now 90+ new Pokemon if you count the Alolan forms, which are about a dozen or so Pokemon from Gen I that have special forms in this game with new typing I.E, Vulpix is now Ice and Exeggutor is a Grass-Dragon .Without those, there are still more new Pokemon than Gen VI, but there are now 16 (18 if you count Pokemon that you can only get from digital codes) Legendary Pokemon, more than any other game. The amount of Legendary Pokemon is insane, making the actual number of new Pokemon less spectacular than before. When so many of the Pokemon are locked in the post game, it's a bit of a damper for a longtime collector like myself.

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    Another aspect of Sun/Moon that I'm a bit torn on are the edition of Z-Moves. After you fulfill certain circumstances, you can give a Pokemon in your party a Z-Crystal, an item that lets them perform an incredibly strong type based move. For example, if you give a Rock Pokemon a Rocknium-Z, then they can do a super strong Rock move. The only drawbacks are that you can only use 1 Z-Move per fight, you can't use a held item because the Crystal is a held item, and it's attack strength is based on the power of the move you're upgrading, so a powered up Surf will hit harder than a powered up Bubble.

    On one hand, it adds strategy to a fight where you can have only one Pokemon use a Z-Move per battle, making it tough to choose which type to use and when to use it. Plus at least it's better than Mega Evolutions, which I still believe are useless and didn't do a damn thing to expand upon battles and make them more dynamic. It just limited your teams to a certain few Pokemon that everyone always had in order to actually last in a fight. On the other hand, Z-Moves are now pretty much "Hit button to win" moves that will do a titanic amount of damage even if the move is normally effective. Not very effective won't kill, but get a good Pokemon with a good move and have them use a Z-move and you can kiss your enemy goodbye. It makes battling a bit too simple for me.

    As for all of the other little ins and outs, I have to say I really enjoyed all of the tweaks that Game Freak has made for Sun/Moon. The story has a few different beats to it that make it stand out, and while you do have to deal with Team Skull, hilarious street thugs that make Team Rocket look like criminal masterminds, as well as the Aether Foundation, an altruistic group that tries to help all Pokemon by protecting them and sound much more like a Pokemon version of the Catholic Church. They disavow all evils done to Pokemon and protect them, but you know there's one or two thing sup with them that don't sit right with you.

    Look, after playing Pokemon for 20 years, it's easy to say that I've seen it all. I've seen new Pokemon, new moves, new regions, new trainers, and there comes a point where the franchise just doesn't seem to innovate. Sun/Moon made me feel excited to play Pokemon again in a way I haven't felt since Gen II. I wanted to explore Alola and catch all of the Pokemon I could find (Nuzlocke rules prevented me from doing that, so all I could do is stare at amazing Pokemon and shed a single tear of sadness). I wanted to see new challenges and fight more trainers because I felt like this was a world that I wanted to be in more.

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    Pokemon Sun/Moon was the reinvigoration that the series needed in my opinion. It's still obviously Pokemon, but enough things have been added to make me feel like this is a game that I've never played before. Okay, I obviously never have played it before, but this wasn't your typical Pokemon game. Some of the changes I really like, some I have reservations on, but nothing about the game made me think that Game Freak made a mistake designing these games. That being said, this wasn't a huge gamble for Nintendo. This wasn't an all-or-nothing, do-or-die case for the series, but it shows that Nintendo isn't content to sit on its laurels and tried and true formulas.

    I'm still enjoying Sun/Moon i way more than expected, and I'm still having fun battling new Pokemon and watch my hard earned Pokemon slowly die through bulls*** moves like pursuit. PURSUIT KILLED 5 OF MY POKEMON IN MY NUZLOCKE! I'M AFRAID TO SWITCH OUT DYING POKEMON NOW IN FEAR OF THEM DYING TO A CHEAP MOVE THAT IS ONLY THERE TO MAKE MY TEAMMATES DIE!

    Have you ever tried to Nuzlocke a Pokemon game? It does things to your mind... I now have an emotional connection to my Wishiwashi Bubbledumdum.

    Yes, that is a sentence I have just written out. I think I need to get away from my computer now.

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  15. [​IMG]

    It's been a week, let's talk about spoiler filled aliens.


    If there's one thing that I know I suck at, it's being timely. Timeliness has always been a struggle for me just because of how busy life can be sometimes. If I had a huge workload on my plate, I'll push off certain projects until I'm free, and then I'll continue on when I finally do have the time. Usually that's why I do Triple Features, but Arrival is a different case. It's a very serious sci-fi drama whose enjoyment will solely hinge upon whether or not you liked the major twist at the end of the movie. If you liked it, you'll think Arrival is great. If not, you'll think it's simply good, but you'll start to piece together logical problems with the movie. Just to make it perfectly clear, Arrival is one of those movies you need to see for yourself to form an opinion on it. I can't tell you if you'll like it, I can only tell you if I thought it was good or not. So with that in mind, this review WILL HAVE SPOILERS for the major twist and I'll be discussing my thoughts about it. I waited a whole week in order to properly dissect this movie, so I'm not going to hold back. With that said, THIS IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE FOR SPOILERS.

    Still here...? Okay.

    Our story revolves around Amy Adams as a linguist whose hired on to talk with aliens. Aliens have landed in 12 spaceships across the world, and she's been brought on to examine the one that landed in Montana. The problem with these aliens is that while they appear non-violent, no one can understand what they're saying or what they want, so negotiations don't go anywhere. Amy Adams needs to translate their language, make them understand our own language, and find out what they want on Earth.

    This is completely the thinking man's space invasion movie. This would be Independence Day if it wasn't an action blockbuster, or Signs if it wasn't stupid. There's only one action scene in the entire movie, and it's a throwaway one at that. This movie's first and only function is to be a story about Amy Adams as she just so happens to encounter aliens.

    It actually seems a bit odd that the aliens, in their monolithic spaceships, aren't even the main characters in a movie about them coming to Earth, but it does make sense. Focus on the human reaction to these aliens and what people will say now that they realize that they're not alone in the universe.

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    This is a story about Amy Adams from start to finish, and she does an exceptional job here. She's able to show off a wide range of emotion in nearly ever scene she's in, but her best moments are when she's actually communicating with the aliens. As she's discovering how to communicate with them and say "damn it all" to the rules, I couldn't help watch her and root for her.

    Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner just to happen to be in this movie, but help me if I can't remember a single thing they did or say. They represented tropes more than being actual characters, with Whitaker being the gruff U.S. military official and Jeremy Renner being the scientist that bonds with Amy Adams. They're fine, if not entirely forgettable.

    I would like to talk about the aliens, but they're the least interesting things in the movie. Called the heptapods, they can only communicate by shooting out ink in circles to people. These ink circles can contain words, sentences, ideas, and function as monologues sometimes, which unique to say the least. I don't think that the idea of understanding aliens has ever been as fully explored as it is here. The aliens look generic, but at least the general concept behind them is fairly solid.

    Oh, and everything is super enthralling to watch. Nearly everything in this movie is portrayed as a giant event, and most of the time it is. When Amy Adams first enters the spaceship, it's a solid 5 minutes of just the approach, looking at the door, going in the door, and walking up to the aliens. All the time, the shots of the movie feel foreboding and imposing. By this point we had no idea what the heptapods looked like, so the buildup to their eventual reveal succeeds on so many levels. That being said, the movie can drag for an eternity as it moves slowly from scene to scene. It wants you to feel oppressed, to feel confined, but instead the movie just moves at a glacial pace until the very end of the movie.

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    And then comes the twist. The big twist that defines whether or not you'll like this movie or not. Last chance!

    So for the entire movies, we've been getting a few shots and scenes of Amy Adams playing with her daughter, who eventually dies at the end of the first five minutes of the movie. It turns out though that all of those scenes weren't flashbacks, but flashforwards. The heptapods came to Earth in order to allow humans to understand their language, which can change their perception of time so they can see time at all points. In other words, the aliens can see the future and the past, but because their species is going to die in 3,000 years, they need humans to help save them by understanding their language. And Amy Adams just so happens to be the first person to understand them, but in turn she realizes that she has a daughter with Jeremy Renner, but she'll die no matter what Amy Adams does.

    That's... an okay twist. It's nothing terrible, and it certainly could have been a lot worse, but to take a a massive concept like "humanity reacted to an alien invasion", and making it instead about "someone can see the future and knows that their daughter will die" seems a little bit... underwhelming.

    Like, what if instead the aliens came to Earth still because they were going to die in 3,000 years, but instead of giving the gift of prognostication, they infected Amy Adams with a disease that the aliens had? It wouldn't be active until her daughter is born, but the disease that kills her daughter is the one that killed the heptapods, so humanity would now begin trying to create and antidote for it? That would have been fairly interesting and you can still include the dead daughter stuff for Amy Adams! As it stands though, the twist just goes to make the aliens even more worthless in the "Alien Invasion" movie. It's like if you had Pirates of the Caribbean where in the third act, Jack Sparrow realized that him being a pirate was just to get away from his estranged wife, so he leaves his crew to find her and confess how he loves her more than this crew. Didn't this used to be a pirate movie? What's with this sudden change in tone and mood?

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    I really didn't know what to expect from Arrival when I went in. I heard literally nothing about it until the day before, and even then it was at a solid 100% of Rotten Tomatoes. Everyone wanted to see this movie, and I was in a theatre that was completely sold out. I can tell that by the end of the movie, several people's reaction was "Oh... that was cool... I think?" Arrival isn't bad by any definition of the word. It's an interesting think piece that is doing way better than I thought it would, and I'm glad for it. This may be a surprising hit during the awards seasons, and I'd be perfectly okay with that.

    My biggest gripe is that the movie had me strung along by seeing where it was going, and when it finally played it's hand, it was just playing two pairs instead of the full house that I thought it would. Would that be a fault on my part though for having my expectations too high? Possibly, but I tried to enjoy the movie for what it was and not be so focused on "the big twist". For what it was, Arrival was a unique sci-fi movie that did something that a lot of other alien movies never made me do; it made me think about what we would do if we ever did encounter alien life.

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