Movies: The Raid 2 Review (or “Hey Gorilla, How Much Does That Fella Weigh?”)

April 11, 2014

Back in 2012, I went along to The Raid, an Indonesian action movie set during a police raid of a tower block. I described it as “A Good Action Film, But Shallower Than The Flinstones’ Gene Pool”.

Last year on holiday with friends, my brother suggested we watch it, but I shot that suggestion down. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t considering we ended up watching the horrendously bad World War Z instead, but we all learn from our mistakes.

Anyway, when I heard a new one was coming out, and was set to last two and a half hours, I decided I definitely wasn’t going to go.raid2

But I don’t want to be the guy who always shoots down my friends’ suggestions of what to watch and then expect them to blindly accept my film choices, and after all, with an Unlimited Card, it was free.

Plus, reviews seem to be extremely favourable.

So I thought I’d give The Raid 2 a go.

Was it better than the first? Time to find out.

The Raid 2 Review: What’s It About?

A rookie cop goes undercover to infiltrate one of the two organised crime gangs running Jakarta. He spends two years in jail and then gets a job high up working for the mob.

And naturally, all sorts of crazy shit goes down.

The Raid 2 Review: Was It Any Good?

My thoughts on the first Raid film apply to this one to an extent.

The fight scenes are extremely violent, and you’ve got to respect the direction and athleticism that goes into them, but I just spent the whole film chuckling at it rather than being enthralled. I mean…they are ridiculous. It’s like watching a fighting game come to life, and I don’t think that’s really a good thing.

The way the fights panned out, with dozens upon dozens of blokes waiting in line to be beaten up by one person, was just stupid. Why wouldn’t lots of people jump the one person together?

Also, how come a deaf woman with hammers can waste a bunch of ninja dudes, and a bloke with a baseball bat can single-handedly take out another bunch of ninja dudes, but together they can’t take out one man?

Like I say; it’s video game stuff. It’s like Double Dragon where the bosses at the end of the first and second levels come back to fight you again before the final boss.

And it must be that the vast majority of these expendable ninja dudes are just poorly trained if none of them can do any damage to one person.

Oh, and there’s no way the main character wouldn’t be dead before the end either. At the very least he’ll drop dead soon after the end credits roll.

Ultimately, all the fights looked that little but too staged and the impact of the violence is numbed after about 10 minutes. Beyond that you just spend the film imagining wrestling crowds chanting “E-C-DUB”, “Holy Shit” and “This Is Awesome“. Similarly, as a fan of wrestling, I was imagining the fighters saying stuff like “Let’s go home” and “I’m sorry, I love you” etc. It was unintentionally hilarious. The only thing that could have made it funnier was if Art Donovan was doing commentary on it.

“Hey Gorilla, that little ninja guy is spry” 

“Hey Gorilla, how much does that fella weigh”

…and so on and so-forth.

Where The Raid 2 vastly improves upon the original though is in the plot. Although it gets a little bit confusing as to who hates who and which guys are the rat cops (if that was actually even revealed), it did at least have some level of narrative flow to it, and in actual fact, at a meaty 150 minutes long, it flew by surprisingly fast.

I wasn’t bored, and that’s something that deserves praise.

Should You Go To See The Raid 2?

Fighting enthusiasts will no doubt love The Raid 2. On the way out of the cinema, we were walking behind some excited chaps wearing UFC hoodies (how stereotypical can you can) and they seemed to love it.

Anyone else will get a chuckle out of it, but don’t go in expecting Citizen Kane.


Wrestlemania XXX Review (or “Nope, That’s Not The Name Of A Porn Film”)

April 7, 2014

This time last year I sat here and wrote a scathing review of Wrestlemania XXIX.

I don’t often do wrestling reviews, but I was so disillusioned by the poor quality on show that I felt I had to.

Here’s how I summed it up…

As a viewer since 1991, I must admit my interest in the WWE product is at an all time low, and I saw absolutely nothing atWrestleMania 29 to make me feel positive about the weeks and months ahead.

A Great Way To Start The Show

A Great Way To Start The Show

That’s how bad it was.

A lot has happened in the last year though, and since the massive fan backlash at the Royal Rumble, there have been signs of an improving product.

And that leads us to the present and WWE’s latest offering, Wrestlemania XXX (which isn’t a porn film).

WWE Wrestlemania XXX Review

I’ll go through it on a match by match (or segment by segment) basis.

The Hall of Fame Ceremony: Ok, a quick detour first of all to the previous night’s Hall of Fame Ceremony. I can only echo what others have said. In order, in terms of speeches, Lita was incredibly dull, Jake Roberts was just breathtakingly

amazing, Mr T was unintentionally hysterical, Kane’s speech for Paul Bearer was enjoyable, Scott Hall was short, effective and to the point, Carlito was the only amusing bit in an otherwise super-dull Carlos Colon speech, and The Ultimate Warrior was fantastic. I especially loved the way Warrior thanked the people who really helped him in his career rather than the usual suspects. Overall, a great watch.

The Tag Title Fatal Fourway: A decent way to kick things off in the pre-show. The right team won, but it’s a bit odd that Cesaro was the one to take the fall. The split was a sign of things to come,

The Opening Segment: Hogan, Austin and The Rock all in the ring together exchanging barbs to start off with? That’s about as good as it gets. Well, I’d have preferred it if Bret Hart was in there instead of The Rock, giving it the whole “Uh…well…uh…you know…uh….Hogan is a piece of shit” stuff, but hey, you can’t have everything. The Rock doesn’t do much for me, but Austin and his “What” stuff is still gold, and the way they got round Hogan accidentally calling it the Silverdome twice was genius. A great start.

Triple H vs Daniel Bryan: As you would expect, it was a solid match, although Triple H’s entrance was a bit stupid. Stephanie McMahon is a very effective character these days too.

The Shield vs Kane & The New Age Outlaws: Well, it was over with quickly, but then why wouldn’t The Shield make short work of a trio of semi retired older men?

Aaaaaaaaaah!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaah!!!!

The Battle Royal: I’m disappointed that were weren’t one or two legends in there, and I don’t really get why they didn’t just announce that the likes of Tyson Kidd and Yoshi Tatsu (can you believe he won the battle royal at Wrestlemania XXVI?!) would be in it in the pre-match graphic, but it was a nice little battle royal. The Kofi Kingston spot was impressive, although he seems to be employed purely for high spots in matches like this. The right man won though in Cesaro, and the sight – and reaction from the crowd – of seeing him slam the Big Show over the top rope was superb.

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt: While I enjoyed it, I feel the match went on just a little bit too long, and I also think the wrong man won. While Wyatt shouldn’t have won cleanly, he still should have emerged the victor. Losing doesn’t do much to help him on the face of it, while Cena losing would have done nothing to his status.

Brock Lesnar vs the Undertaker: Wow. Who the hell saw that one coming? In the pre-determined world of pro-wrestling, very little can shock a viewer as long-term as me. Sure, things can pleasantly surprise me (like the Cesaro victory in the Battle Royal) but not *shock*. This shocked me. And it shocked everyone.

Now sure, all the logic of pro-wrestling said Lesnar should win considering the Undertaker dominated him in the run up to the show, but this is The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He doesn’t lose. And even though it was quite obvious he was old, run down, not a patch on the guy he was even two years ago and – to be blunt – looked like an old drag queen, and even though he was up against a beast like Brock Lesnar, wrestling logic would not allow anyone to believe the Undertaker wasn’t taking the win.

So I thought that was fantastic – even though the rest of the match was shit – and I loved the crowd reaction. Grown men were crying and some left in disgust, but that’s what wrestling can just so very occasionally do to you. Superb. I would say The Undertaker should now retire, and from listening to what the commentators were saying, I think that might be what happens.

The Divas Match: An absolute mess. To be fair, I’m sure it would be difficult for any male wrestlers to create a good match in similar circumstances, but it still came across as amateur hour. As a fan of Total Divas, my mum wanted to watch this match, but even she could only say “That looked so fake” as all the Divas queued up on the outside for that Bellas plancha spot. The crapness ended when Naomi managed to botch tapping out. *groan*.

Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton vs Batista: So Daniel Bryan got his happy ending after all. It was a decent match and included a gruesome lookingPowerbomb/RKO spot through a table, and a nice cameo from Triple H & Stephanie, but I

Undertaker lost? This guy can't believe it either

Undertaker lost? This guy can’t believe it either

think most people were still just shocked at Undertaker losing. To give the wrestlers credit, they *almost* had me believing that Batista would win on those two near falls.

Wrestlemania XXX: Final Thoughts

Apart from the Divas, this was a rock solid Wrestlemania for the first time in a long time. Indeed, it’s easily one of the best they’ve ever done.

Without doubt the polar opposite of the abysmal Wrestlemania XXIX.

Storylines were concluded, new superstars were made and there was nostalgia aplenty, but the big story was the Undertaker’s loss.

I just don’t think anyone saw it coming.

Tonight’s Raw should be very interesting.

 


Ten of the Best TV Show Finales of All Time

April 4, 2014

Ok, so since I did an article on 10 of the Worst TV Show Finales of All Time, it’s only fitting that I should do one on 10 of the Best TV Show Finales of All Time too.

Like I said in the last article, some shows could have had tremendous conclusions if they’d only left it at that point. I’m thinking about the likes of Chuck, Only Fools & Horses, Alias and Scrubs, but alas they did nothing of the kind, and they kept going long past the point of exhaustion.

But these 10 shows didn’t.

As always, Spoilers Ahoy!!

1. Blake’s Seven

How Did It End?: In the last episode, Avon and the crew of Scorpio meet up again with Blake. Only Blake is a bad guy! Or is he? A miscommunication leads to Avon shooting Blake dead, and then being ambushed by members of the

And there wasn't a dry eye in the house

And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house

Federation. All of Avon’s team are shot – presumably dead – and the last thing we see is Avon being surrounded by a group of gun-toting bad guys. He raises his gun, smiles to the camera, and as the end credits music is played, we can hear shots being fired.

Why Is That Good?: Because it’s such a fantastic and dramatic way to end the show. They brought back the original lead, killed him off, destroyed Avon’s ship, killed all the crew and it appears as though Avon too has breathed his last. Talk about shocking! And the way we don’t know for sure who was firing all those shots as the end credits rolled made it even better. Did Avon escape? We’ll never know.

2. The Shield

How Did It End?: After being kinda the bad guys all the way through, Vic Mackey and the Strike Team finally get their comeuppance in a dramatic, action packed conclusion to a long story arc (#ArmenianMoneyTrain). Rather than going to prison though, Vic’s punishment is being tied down to a meaningless desk job; his ultimate hell.

Why Is That Good?: Because the drama led somewhere and the right thing happened. The longer the Shield went on, the more the supposed heroes – Strike Team – showed themselves as being pretty horrible blokes. Vic’s punishment was an inventive way of wrapping things up; far more inventive than sending him to jail or killing him off.

3. Friday Night Lights

How Did It End?: Character Arcs were completed, The Coach made the right move by putting his wife’s career first for once, and it finished on a great montage that showed what happened to all the characters. And moreover, it didn’t show what happened at the very end of the final game of the season.

Why Is That Good?: Everything wrapped up nicely and the writers made the right choice when it came to Coach Taylor’s choice of whether to stay in Texas or accept a lesser job to allow his wife to pursue her dreams for once.

4. The Office (UK)

How Did It End?: Everyone got the happy ending they wanted.

Why Is That Good?: Because a happy ending once in a while is the right thing to do, and the finale to the UK version of the Office did it better than almost any other show. Just when you thought Tim and Dawn wouldn’t get together, they did, and at last David Brent stuck up for himself against Finch. A perfect way to end the show at Christmas.

5. The Office (US)

How Did It End?: A few months after the documentary is released, Dwight & Angela get married, Jim & Pam move away and Michael returns briefly but in a way that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the cast.

Why Is That Good?: Pretty much the same reasons as the UK version. It just seemed like the right time and place for the show to end, and it was well handled.

6. Breaking Bad

How Did It End?: Walt dies killing the bad guys and saves Jesse’s life.

With the odds against them, could Angel and his crew survive? We never found out, and that's a good thing

With the odds against them, could Angel and his crew survive? We never found out, and that’s a good thing

Why Is That Good?: The finale to Breaking Bad is a bit different to other shows in that the finale itself wasn’t meant to be sentimental or shocking on an individual level, but it was the end to a story-arc that had built up from the moment the show started. Everything that happened before it was key to getting the characters to where they were in the last episode. There were no cop-outs and no disappointments; this was the only way Breaking Bad could end, and it did not disappoint.

7. The West Wing

How Did It End?: With the handover of power from the Bartlett Administration to the Santos one.

Why Is That Good?: Because it was time for the show to end. Had it gone on for a few more years with a mostly new cast, it would eventually have just petered out and died. This was the right time for it to end. And when watching it, I knew that it was the right time for it to go. It didn’t outstay its welcome.

8. Angel

How Did It End?: A bit like Blake’s Seven. Angel and the remaining members of his team are trapped and under attack with practically no chance of survival. Can they do it? We never find out; all we know is that they try.

Why Is That Good?: Again, it’s a shocking way for the show to end; this was not the type of TV show that needed a flippant, cheery conclusion. And just like Blake’s Seven, it left you to speculate as to what happened.

9. Ashes to Ashes

How Did It End?: Both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes are explained in this gripping and dramatic final episode.

A fitting end to a great series

A fitting end to a great series

Why Is That Good?: Because unlike Life on Mars, it explained what exactly was going on to the viewer, and it did so in a way that satisfied. The scene outside the “pub” at the end was moving and the way each character’s storyline is dealt with properly was executed perfectly.

10. Blackadder Goes Forth

How Did It End?: The troops in the front line are at last faced with the reality that they must go over the top and into battle.

Why Is That Good?: I think everyone loves the way Blackadder Goes Forth ends; it’s just so emotional and moving, and yet it still manages to retain the comedy element. The final shots of the troops going over the top and then the cut in of the poppy fields probably brought home the realities of the First World War to a whole new generation. Superb.


Ten Of The Worst TV Show Finales Of All Time

April 3, 2014

With the ending to How I Met Your Mother causing such an uproar among its viewers this week, I thought I’d share my views on what I consider to be Ten of the Worst TV Show Finales of All Time.

Now you might expect me to include Dexter on this list considering everyone else seems to dislike it, but I actually thought it was ok. There was only a very limited number of ways Dexter could have ended and I was ok with the one they chose. The last season was poor but the last episode was ok.

Anyway, there will obviously be spoilers here, so consider yourself warned…

1. How I Met Your Mother

How Did It End?: After nine seasons of explaining to his kids how he met their mother, and an entire last season devoted to Robin & Barney’s wedding weekend and Ted’s first encounter with Tracy, it’s revealed that Barney & Robin divorced,

major disappointment

Says it all

Tracy died six years ago and that Ted has really been telling the story so his kids can sign off on him pursuing Robin again.

Why Is That Bad?: Because character relationships had developed long beyond the point where Ted & Robin getting together was an acceptable idea, it rendered almost three seasons of the show redundant, it didn’t give the viewers what they wanted and that last scene followed a very good one where Ted & Tracy finally met.

2. One Foot In The Grave

How Did It End?: Victor Meldrew is killed by a hit & run driver and Margaret Meldrew avenges his death by murdering the woman responsible.

Why Is That Bad?: Because it wasn’t funny, it killed off the main character in a depressingly bleak episode, thus depriving us of any new specials in the future and it turned Margaret into a murderer. Also, it involved none of the other regular cast members.

3. Life On Mars

How Did It End?: Sam wakes up from a coma, realises he preferred the fantasy world he may or may not have been in and then he chucks himself off the roof of a building in the hope he ends up back there.

Why Is That Bad?: If you take into consideration that Life on Mars is its own series and not the first two seasons of Ashes to Ashes, it didn’t explain Sam’s situation. And the whole thing just left you feeling a bit confused and deflated. On the other hand, had they explained everything, then we wouldn’t have got the epic finale of Ashes to Ashes.

4. Lost

How Did It End?: I’m not even sure. They are all dead? And it’s a purgatory they are living in? Or something?! To be honest, by that point I just wasn’t paying attention anymore.

Why Is That Bad?: Never did a show lose its way more than Lost. It started brilliantly and was probably the top TV show in the entire world at one point. But then the writers kept adding more and more twists and turns. By the end, so much was left unresolved and viewers just sat there, jaws dropped thinking “Is that it?!? That’s the payoff?” Utter bullshit.

5. Chuck

How Did It End?: Sarah loses her memory, can’t remember who Chuck is, concludes that she doesn’t love him anymore and they split up.

"I've lost my memory and don't love you anymore. Sorry mate"

“I’ve lost my memory and don’t love you anymore. Sorry mate”

Why Is That Bad?: Much like shows like Only Fools & Horses, Scrubs and Alias, Chuck was the classic example of a TV that went on just a few episodes too long. The last season ended with all the major storylines wrapped up, but for some reason they decided to extend the run just a little bit longer with no plots to speak of. To have the show end on a note where Chuck & Sarah split up just felt unnecessarily negative. It’s like they didn’t want a happy ending for the sake of it.

6. Veronica Mars

How Did It End?: Half way through a storyline.

Why Is That Bad?: Cos that’s no way for a show to end! The finale of Veronica Mars made no effort to finish its third season with a potential end to the overall story arc – an acceptable “out” just in case it didn’t get renewed. And so as a result, it just felt as though the viewers were left hanging. And that stuff was so long ago that it couldn’t reasonably be referenced in the recent movie either.

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

How Did It End?: After a final confrontation with whatever forces of evil they were fighting, Buffy and her surviving mates wander off into the sunset.

Why Is That Bad?: Apart from feeling slightly rushed, the last episode also killed off the character of Anya without a moment’s pause, and her boyfriend Xander didn’t seem to give a toss. While the show itself was finishing, its sister show – Angel – wasn’t, and so it was as if they didn’t want to give it a proper conclusion. I felt unsatisfied

8. The Brittas Empire

How Did It End?: Gordon Brittas wakes up on a train and it turns out the whole TV show was a dream.

Why Is That Bad?: Why do you think?

9. Alias

How Did It End?: They exhume the Rambaldi storyline, the Black Ops building is blown up along with at least one member of the regular cast, Vaughn comes back from the dead, Arvin Sloane turns evil again for the sake of it – becoming

Who cares if it ruins my character's entire story-arc; I want to be immortal...and EVIL

Who cares if it ruins my character’s entire story-arc; I want to be immortal…and EVIL

immortal in the process – and Jack Bristow dies blowing a tomb with Sloane in it, and thus imprisons him for eternity.

Why Is That Bad?: Well first of all, read that. Alias was a spy drama. But the major problem was that it rushed to an improbable finish. The first four seasons of the show were wrapped up nicely at the end of the fourth season and that could and should have been it, as Sydney and Vaughn finally ride off into the sunset together. But the show was given a new season which was supposed to kick off at least a few more years of episodes. When viewers rejected it and the show was announced as ending at the end of Season Five, the production team hit the reset switch on almost everything. That Vaughn came back was a nonsense, and Arvin Sloane’s entire character arc was ruined. Boo!!!

10. Goodnight Sweetheart

How Did It End?: Having been able to travel between the 1940s and 1990s for a number of years without any fuss, Gary finds himself forever stuck in the 40s after he saves Clement Atlee’s life. It turns out that he’d been chosen especially by God or some other mysterious force to travel back in time to save Atlee and once that was done, the Time Portal was closed off.

Why Is That Bad?: Well even if you can accept that he can travel back through a personalised Time Portal between the 90s and 40s, if his sole purpose was to save Atlee’s life, how come he was able to come and go as he pleased for six whole years before that chance meeting? What if he’d decided he didn’t want to travel back more than a couple of times? It was a stupid ending to a stupid show.

 

Have I missed any obvious ones? Give me a shout!

And remember to Like the blog on Facebook!


How I Met Your Mother Serves Up The Most Unsatisfying Ending To A TV Show Ever (Finale Spoilers)

April 1, 2014

Ok, so if the title of this article wasn’t enough to make you realise that this will contain spoilers for the finale of How I Met Your Mother, then consider yourself definitively warned now…

Last night in the US, after 9 seasons and 208 episodes, How I Met Your Mother came to an end.

Now you know that I’d long since grown tired of this show – a show which just hasn’t been even semi-consistently funny for two or three years at least and had only one good episode in its final season – but I still saw it through to the bitter end as I’m a completist and I wanted the fucking payoff.

And what is the payoff to a TV series called How I Met Your Mother? It’s him meeting the mother. That’s it; nothing else.

Is that what we got, and was I happy with it?

Two answer those questions in order, “Yes and No” and “Absolutely Not”

The Most Unsatisfying Ending To a TV Show Ever

The very last episode of How I Met Your Mother was actually going quite well I thought.

Ted and The Mother Finally Meet, But Fuck You Viewers,  She's Already Dead

Ted and The Mother Finally Meet, But Fuck You Viewers, She’s Already Dead

In terms of character development and progression, the show had arguably been stuck in a rut since the Wedding was first shown back in episode 113 of 208 in September 2010, but now things were moving, and moving at pace.

While seeing Robin & Barney divorce was a very firm kick in the teeth to anyone who had endured the rest of the ninth season – set as it was for 23 mind-numbing episodes over one single weekend – it at least seemed to give their characters a bit of closure. Barney finally found love in having a child and Robin had a good career.

Lily & Marshall meanwhile continued to grow their family and we also saw plenty of interesting bits like the gradual breakup of the group over the years; something that inevitably happens a lot in real life.

And as it bounded back and forth between Ted finally meeting the mother for the first time and flashforwards to how their lives developed, it just – as I said above – felt good to see the show moving again after being stagnant for so long.

The first meeting, when it finally happened, was nicely written.

And I’d have been happy with that. That’s where it should have ended. It would have been a fitting end.

But to have Ted – and I should say Josh Radnor and not “Future Ted”  aka the voice of Bob Saget, which made no sense considering Saget was still narrating up until that moment – then finish the story by saying to the viewer “Lolz, she’s dead” and for his kids to then say “Oh dad, you’ve only been telling us this because you really love Aunt Robin; feel free to go and shag her since mum’s been dead for six years” just felt insulting and actually rage inducing.

How is that a good ending? Seriously?

Oh don’t get me wrong, it could have been a clever ending if the show had only run for two or three seasons, and it was interesting that they’d filmed that ending years earlier, but things had moved on, characters had developed, fan expectations had changed and it was no longer a valid or acceptable way to end the series.

Ted & Robin didn’t work. So many times we’d seen them realise that they were not meant to be together and in the last season alone, there were two supposedly final ends to any hope some people may have had that they’d end up together. It was a long since exhausted story arc.

Nine seasons in, the viewers of How I Met Your Mother just wanted to see Ted meet the mother.

And since she had popped up in flash forwards and flashbacks and since it appeared as though she was a nice person and that her and Ted were genuinely well suited to each other, why not just end the show like that?

I just find myself really irritated by the whole thing, and I’m not the only one.

Sure, there are other issues like why Marshall & Lily didn’t age as fast as previous flash forwards had suggested and why Ted bothered to even tell a 100th of that story to his kids, but the big one is that it’s just a terrible ending. Even worse than LOST.

And from looking at the amount of negative feedback from fans and reviewers alike (I think IGN is about the only site to give it the thumbs up), it seems as though I’m not alone.

Now if I was asked by friends if How I Met Your Mother is worth watching, I’d tell them to avoid the rest of Season Nine entirely and probably just skip to the last episode after the fifth season to avoid disappointment.

Because that’s what they’ll have if they don’t.

 


Movies – Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

March 28, 2014

Superhero films have been pretty poor lately.

For the past couple of years it’s been slim pickings in terms of good ones, with 2013 efforts like Man of Steel and Thor: Dark World failing to gain my approval due to weak plots and a running time mostly devoted to monotonous fight scenes.Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier

Another long-term issue Superhero films have is that while the origin stories are usually sure-fire hits, the followups can leave a lot to be desired.

Undeterred though, I went along to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other day.

I really hoped it would be good…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – What’s It About?

To go into too much detail would spoil things, since unexpected events kick off fairly early on.

A non-spoiler version would be that Captain America struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Who’s In It?

That guy who looks a lot like the Human Torch, Chris Evans, is back in the title role and is joined by – among others – Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, an incredibly old-looking Robert Redford, Jim Robinson off Neighbours, Abed off Community and everyone’s favourite liar, Emily Thorne (van Camp) from Revenge.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – How Highly Is It Rated?

Highly.

With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.5 on imdb from around 9,000 votes and plenty of four-to-five star reviews in the press, this is one Superhero movie that appears to have delivered in the eyes of the critics.

The worst review I’ve seen is a 3-star one from the Guardian.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – My Thoughts

Despite being jaded to the genre’s output lately, I have to say I enjoyed The Winter Soldier a lot.

Sure, it had the same problem to a certain extent as some of the poorer Marvel efforts – i.e. the last section was a large display of CGI destruction – but even that was done in a way that actually moved the plot on.

The biggest praise I could give it is that it had actually has a story to it where things developed that will ultimately affect the future of the Marvel Universe, both on TV and in the movies.

What are those developments? Well that would spoil the film for you, so I won’t touch upon them.

But if I was a viewer of Agents of SHIELD (and I’m not at the moment, though I’m sure I’ll go back to it at some point), I’d be interested to see where they go.

In terms of the plot, if I had one criticism though it’s that the whole thing hinges upon a bad guy telling Captain American and Black Widow the truth of their plans. If he’d kept his mouth shut, everything would have worked out for them.

More Relatable

I think beyond that what appeals to me about the Captain America franchise – in spite of him being a technically dull Superhero – is that it seems more grounded in reality.

With a plot about espionage, betrayal and conspiracy, I find that much easier to get into than the Thor films, which come across as dreary cod-Shakespearian twaddle masked by CGI and extravagant alien costumes.

Captain America is just more interesting for me.

And it’s probably easier to write an engaging plot for as well.

Acting & Characterisation

While the Captain himself is a little bit colourless as a leading character, Chris Evans does a decent job.

It’s the characters around him though – and the actors as well I suppose – who drive things forward a bit and although I doubt she’d work as well as the star of her own movie, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was a sensible choice to pair up with the Cap. It was also cool seeing Falcon make an appearance.

Robert Redford looked oooooold though, and was dressed and styled like a murderer from an early season of Columbo.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Final Thoughts

I feel like I’m slightly hamstrung by my inability to discuss the plot much, but like I say, a lot happens, and it would ruin it to give away some of the exciting twists and turns along the way.

But in the absence of that, take this message away…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is – by the standards of Marvel films lately – a very good movie.

Definitely one to see.


Games: Guacamelee! Gold Edition Review

March 22, 2014

After completing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I was after a new game to play.

I tried the critically acclaimed and much fawned over Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, but after a couple of hours’ worth of play it hadn’t grabbed me. It was too dark and dingy and it seemingly took forever to beat every single bad guy I came across. That might be fun for some people, but not me. More to the point, while it started out in a gloomy dungeon, I was hoping for some lovely visuals and a world akin to the Elder Scrolls game beyond that. Alas, when I was told that wasn’t going to happen, my urge to carry on fell by the wayside.

Next, I tried another highly regarded game I’d bought in the Steam Sale last year, Rogue Legacy. Again though, I just couldn’t really get into it; hell, I couldn’t understand what was going on. I died immediately, was replaced by a different character (a fun gimmick, but not one that has any real purpose) and then came back to find another castle with a different layout. And I died again. And repeat. So I moved on from that. Seemed to me like it was one of these Spelunky type games I can’t abide.

So would it be third time lucky with my next attempt, Guacamelee! Gold Edition?

Well considering I’m actually writing a review of it rather than dealing with it in the introduction of a different game’s review, you might be able to guess…

Games – Guacamelee! Gold Edition Review: What Is It?

The premise of Guacamelee! is simple; you play a Luchadore – a masked Mexican wrestler – on a quest to save his love interest from an evil Mexican Gentleman/Burning Skeleton.

So it’s a standard gaming storyline with a twist.

The game itself comes in the style of the Castlevania/Metroid games, mixing side scrolling platforming with action, and in this case, as a Luchadore, your weaponry is essentially punches, kicks and throws.

Thoughts

Guacamelee! is quite a short game, in that it only took me 6 hours to complete, but I liked that. Like I always say, some games go on too long, and being a budget title anyway, this offers a great deal of bang for your buck.

Give me colour like this over a gloomy dungeon any day

Give me colour like this over a gloomy dungeon any day

There’s no question it looks great, with the cell shaded animation style, and the Mexican theme is also pretty fun, allowing for some racially stereotypical music and dialogue to help you along your way.

The key to the game though is in the mechanics. It’s easy enough to immediately get into, but as the game develops, what comes with it is a rather sharp difficulty curve.

The further into the game you go, the more moves you are given to help you, but towards the end, the platforming/obstacles became a pretty intense exercise in skill and muscle memory, to the point where getting from one side of a room to the other brought with it a sense of achievement. It was tough, but not too tough.

The enemies you face become more challenging as well, with the final boss in particular being a hard nut to crack. Basically, you had to learn his moves to be able to block, roll and counteract them with yours.

After a long session playing this yesterday I thought I’d never manage to beat him, but I did it this morning, and I was happy with that; it felt like I defeated him with skill, rather than luck.

So the game was rewarding in that sense.

Guacamelee! Gold Edition Review: Final Thoughts

Here’s a game that looks great, is easy to get into, won’t consume your life and is both challenging and rewarding to complete.

Most of all, it’s fun, and that’s what I thought was missing with the other two games I tried before playing this.

Maybe at £11.99 it’s a bit steep, but I got it for 50% off so I was happy with that price.


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