Category Archives: Reviews
The new Iron Man movie is fun, cheeky, and has a lot of twists. The writers had a lot of fun with the characters as they all turn their character archetypes upside down. You have:
- A hero (Iron Man/Tony Stark)
- A damsel in distress / love interest (Pepper Potts)
- A supervillain (The Mandarin)
- A cute kid
I don’t want to spoil the movie so I’ll just say this: all these characters have some surprises in store for you. The trailers for Iron Man 3 are a little misleading since they portray the movie as being your typical summer blockbuster. The movie takes your blockbuster movie formula and puts a cheeky twist on all the elements you expect to be in an action flick. The movie is low on anything intellectual and is thankfully the opposite of Ang Lee’s take on Hulk.
This is the second best Iron Man movie
The reason why I would put this movie in the middle of the pack is because I didn’t really feel for the characters. This movie has a heart full of shrapnel that’s barely kept going with an arc reactor. It doesn’t quite have that movie magic which makes the audience connect with the characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it.
Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is basically the computerized “arcade” version of the collectible card game.
It’s a pretty good game if you’re into strategy/puzzle games, though not without its quirks and its flaws. Duels of the Planeswalkers (DOTP) is like a “best of” overview of paper-based Magic. You have the best mechanisms that have come up in Magic’s history without the worst stuff the game has come up with (e.g. games where you can’t do anything and slowly watch yourself die). The core of DOTP involves a campaign where you face a computer AI. The computer plays a wide range of decks with very different strategies. You have to figure out which deck to use against the AI and how best to play your cards. Should you be aggressive and try to end the game early, or will prolonging the game improve your chances of winning? Do you want less creatures on the battlefield or more creatures on the battlefield? These are all questions that you have to figure out.
The difficulty of the campaign was pretty well designed as I did not feel that I got stuck at any point in the campaign. I lost a lot on the hardest difficulty but didn’t feel frustrated. All of the AI’s decks have bad matchups so you don’t need to bash your head against a wall and get lucky to win.
Comparison with paper Magic
The benefit of the computer version is that you don’t wait for shuffling and the computer tracks numbers for you. The downside of DOTP is that sometimes the interface can be clunky. In the paper version, you skip over many steps and back up if your opponent wanted to do cast something during a skipped step. In the computer version, you can’t skip over these steps and have to spend a few seconds waiting on the opponent (or yourself). So, large swaths of the game are spent waiting for players to do nothing.
With the paper version of Magic, you get human interaction. This is both good and bad. Paper Magic is unfortunately a game that can lead to arguments over rules. Because paper Magic has over 10,000 cards… the rules have gotten quite complicated over the years. Here is an entire article devoted to the rules of one card (Humility). DOTP limits you to cards without complex rules and handles all the rules for you. For the most part this is a benefit, though there are instances where you can’t do something due to some odd rule or the ability of a card. It can be confusing when you can’t do something and you don’t know why.
The other benefit of DOTP is that it is cheap. You get at least 20 hours of gameplay for $10. One major problem with paper Magic is that it leads to a money vortex. Any tournament-level deck will cost at least a few hundred to several hundred dollars. Once you hit several hundred dollars (to several thousand) the playing field is fair. Unfortunately Wizards of the Coast figured out that enough people get sucked into the money vortex that they can charge what they charge. The vortex is really compelling and there is a huge temptation to spend money to get an advantage in a meaningless game. It brings out the competitiveness in people and pushes them to spend far too much money on cardboard crack. (Don’t do it!!!) For the most part, DOTP lets you enjoy the game without any of the potentially toxic elements of the paper version.
But of course there is a reason why Wizards of the Coast has been making DOTP. They want it to be a gateway drug to get more people into the expensive versions of Magic (digital and paper). DOTP is a very accessible way to get into Magic and to learn the rules.
I have very mixed feelings about DOTP. All of it has to do with it being a gateway drug into the other forms of Magic the Gathering.
If the other forms of Magic didn’t exist, this would be a pretty decent standalone game (with some annoyances).
FTL: Faster Than Light is a space RPG/strategy game where you have to fight through enemies and obstacles to reach your destination. It is RPG-esque because you upgrade your ship from the scrap of your enemies. And it is Rogue-like since you will likely fail multiple times until you figure out the strategies to winning this game. (Ok, so I’ve never actually played Rogue.) It’s mostly a strategy game because you need a very, very good strategy to win. The easy mode is not that easy. And if you’re an idiot like me, this seems like an action/strategy game like Starcraft (y’know, APM) until you realize that you can pause the game and issue commands.
I really enjoyed this game.
The basics of the game are simple yet the overall strategies are complex. (I believe that simple yet complex is the hallmark of a great game.) There are many different ways to lose and you have to master your resources and upgrades to avoid defeat. The game is open-ended and there are multiple paths to victory.
The game is pretty balanced and there isn’t one strategy that is horribly broken. Some strategies might seem really powerful in the beginning but will fail horribly in the later stages. You are forced to evolve your strategy.
I highly recommend this game if you’re into cute strategy games. It costs $10 on Steam… less if it’s on sale.
Hansel and Gretel is an unpretentious and tongue-in-cheek re-imagining of Grimm’s fairy tale. The siblings grow up to become badass bounty hunters and go around defeating witches with ridiculous guns and other outlandish weaponry.
This movie is stupid. Stupidly fun.
Badass bounty hunters? Hell yeah.
Automatic crossbows? Hell yeah.
Historical accuracy? Hell no.
It does not take itself seriously and is targeted towards adults with a sense of humour. The premise is silly and the film knows it. Even Gretel says in one point in the film: “You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me.”
Ignore the critics
This film has a lot of bad reviews (17% on Rotten Tomatoes) but I don’t think that Hansel and Gretel deserves to be panned. Either you like silly films or you don’t. I really enjoyed this film.
I think that the studio did a huge disservice to itself by making it hard for critics to get advance screenings. It automatically gives the movie a “bad movie” stench. For what it is, this film was put together really well. The art direction and special effects makeup are very well done. The action scenes and CGI are fun. The acting was good. I enjoyed the humour and laughed during the film.
I think one reason why critics disliked this film is because it doesn’t have something extra to it. There are other silly films out there such as Men in Black and 21 Jump Street that have a lot of heart. You actually care about the characters and empathize with their struggles. This is definitely not the case with Hansel and Gretel. It’s unpretentious and the characters are very simple.
I was comfortable with the 3-D in this film. Stuff flies by your eyes but not into your eye. I did not get a headache or felt like I needed to take off the glasses. In general, I did not notice the 3-D after a while.
This film is extremely silly but fun. I recommend it.
Everything other people have said about this game is true. It’s a piece of poo. I played this game very briefly with Shaggy and got terrible motion sickness. The best part was when we died. Never again.
Django has everything that you would expect from a Quentin Tarantino movie: over-the-top violence, revenge, more revenge, and more over-the-top violence. And of course, Tarantino makes a cameo in his own movie.
Django is about a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter who’s on a mission to rescue his wife. It’s Quentin Tarantino’s version of a Western and is set in a racist America.
Why you may want to see Django
Django is a solid action film that’s a little better than Tarantino’s previous movie Inglorious Basterds. Unlike your typical Hollywood action film, there are no crazy special effects, chase scenes, bullet time, etc. People just shoot each other. Unlike most Hollywood films, there are no grand themes or big issue social commentary. People just shoot each other. America was racist and the hero of this film shoots all the racist mother****ers. That’s as far as the social commentary goes.
The sophistication in this film lies in being extremely unsophisticated. The plot, the characters’ motivations, and the dialogue are all very simple. It’s about simple things taken to an extreme. Really awful things have happened to Django and the dude is going to get his revenge. When he shoots somebody, an unrealistically excessive amount of blood comes spraying out of them. And oh yeah, the d in his name is silent.
Why you may not want to see Django
If you are bothered with repeated use of the n word, I would avoid this film.
If you are queasy with over-the-top violence (graphic deaths and various forms of torture), I would avoid this film.
The bottom line
It’s a fun film. I enjoyed it.
In your typical Bond movie you have:
- Sky gadgetry and toys and stuff. Cars, weapons, etc. And Sony laptops and cell phones… because spy organizations face budget cuts too and have to sell product placements.
- Hot women. More objects.
- Some kind of villain. He usually shares that woman with Bond because sharing is caring.
- No venereal disease. Ever.
- Witty one-liners.
- Ridiculously over-the-top action scenes.
- Scenes with that other kind of action.
The latest Bond film throws a few twists into the Bond formula. Skyfall actually shows a lot less sex than previous Bond films. There are cases where he probably gets it on but the film does not show it explicitly. So it is unclear if he actually sleeps with one of the villain characters in this one. You’d have to watch the movie and come to your own conclusions.
Like the other Bond films with Daniel Craig, the character is more vulnerable and nuanced. Whereas Pierce Brosnan played a suave woman-magnet who is invulnerable to bullets and genital warts, the Daniel Craig Bond has issues (physical and personal) that affect his professional performance. It elevates the film from a mindless action flick to a mindless action flick without a god-awful plot.
If you are into mindless action flicks, this is not bad.
Seven Psychopaths is about a dude trying to write his screenplay about psychopathic killers. It’s a movie about movies. Like most movies, you’ve got guns, violence, explosions, and hot girls. But there is no romantic subplot. You don’t have some kid making out with his sister who later hooks up with the rogue-ish smuggler guy. There’s nothing like that in Seven Psychopaths. That’s just something else. Totally different movie.
Anyways… back to Seven Psychopaths. It’s insane and it’s funny. It’s a good film. The trailers are kind of misleading but here is one of the least misleading ones:
The third Batman film by Christopher Nolan is simply… more awesomeness. There’s so much awesomeness that it’s almost 3 hours long and your bladder may not be able to handle it.
Catwoman in this film is badass. Anne Hathaway plays a femme fatale who can handle her own business but at the same time is sometimes conflicted about her choices. She kicks a lot of people in the face and blows stuff up (there is a lot of both in this film). Bane is the central villain and is more of a terrorist/revolutionary/mastermind than a beefy muscle dude. And then the cast of Inception shows up. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a rich chick. Bruce Wayne’s butler suggests that he move on from his dead ex-lover and get himself a piece of that billionaire philanthropist booty. (Ok so I’m describing the plot very loosely here.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Blake, one of the good guy cops. Here’s a picture of him with a gun making a pouty face.
- Lots of action sequences
- Lots of stuff blowing up
- Crazy plot twists
- Batman gets new toys
- Lots of thematic elements. Is it right to create heroes out of false idols (Harvey Dent)? Does Bruce Wayne need to get out of the house more?
- Lots of eye shadow whenever Batman has his mask on
So go watch it! But go to the bathroom first.
Perhaps this is what happens when you let successful directors go crazy and have full control over writing the story. Some directors just aren’t top-tier at writing like professional writers turned directors (e.g. Christopher Nolan). In Prometheus, the characters don’t behave logically and there are some gaping plot holes. I had to read this webpage (warning: spoilers) to figure out what the heck the director was trying to say. It’s still bad writing.
On the good side, there are some (unintentionally?) funny moments where you watch the characters do dumb things and get themselves killed. Kind of like in a horror movie, except the visible minorities don’t die first.
The movie is like a scifi horror flick. It’s alright. It’s not awful, but no masterpiece either.