So this documentary series was recommended by a reviewer or two after watching the Ken Burns and Lynn Novack PBS documentary from 2017 (which left me wanting, and feeling cheated, by the end). When I found out that this documentary series was censored via its 2004 DVD release (compared to it’s 1987 VHS release), that sealed the deal. I would watch this, but not before tracking down the original VHS set, which I acquired on eBay for about as much as I payed for the Blu-Ray Ken Burns documentary. Watched it in its original VHS glory, then burned them onto my computer, and later compared and contrasted the VHS versions with the DVD version (the latter of which are currently available on youtube; only a couple of the VHS episode versions are on youtube as of this writing). And unfortunate to say, I’m seeing a pattern here with documentaries of old compared to documentaries of new, and revised versions of documentaries of old. But either way, I can definitively say this, Vietnam – A Television History is a far better documentary on Vietnam than the 2017 PBS version is. While the PBS version spent a respectable 18 hours on the subject spanning over 10 episodes, the VHS version spends 13 hours over a span of 13 episodes (while the DVD version only has 11 episodes, thus only 11 hours), and still manages to provide a better understanding of it all.
I’ll be referencing the uncut VHS edition from here on (at least up until the end). If you want to see how badly the DVD version fucked things up, I uploaded several youtube videos (and 1 bitchute video, because fuck youtube and its censorship bullshit) highlighting the differences between the VHS and DVD versions, mainly showing what was left out (not in any stylish way, I decided to keep it simple and therebye subtly encourage those who are interested to track down the VHS editions to get the full experience if they’re interested). You can see them here (though the last episode is missing simply because the DVD version left out the last episode entirely):
Jumanji is one of my favorite films from the 90s. It’s not just a good kid-flick, but a good film in general. So when I heard they were making a sequel to it, all I could think was, “Why?” Then I saw the trailer, and I thought, “WHY!?!?!?”
My second thought was, “So this is what it feels like to have your childhood raped.” So I expected this to be terrible going in to see it. That probably should’ve worried me, because setting expectations so low provided a decent chance for the film to rise above them. Which is ultimately what happened, and that pisses me off even more.
I wanted a film that gives me plenty to rant and rave about damnit! It’s supposed to be worse than Star Wars: The Last Jedi! In all fairness, The Last Jedi is a better film than this one, but that’s only because this film is simple mediocrity, with no aspirations whatsoever (make the movie, have fun, cash out) where as at least The Last Jedi at least strives to be more than that. And for that matter, so did the original Jumanji movie. From here on out, when referring to the 1995 film, I’m just going to call it Jumanji, while this new one I’ll call WttJ (Welcome to the Jungle).
Rated: 4 / 5
Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games!
When watching Jumanji, I admire several things about it. This film is a drama, with some adventure and comedy thrown in. At its core, it’s a film about taking responsibility and facing your fears, and the consequences of not doing so. It takes a long while before this becomes evident, as the film does a somewhat unique style on how it introduces our main characters. I haven’t seen very many films that pull this off successfully. First we’re introduced to Allen, a young boy who doesn’t want to live a life his father wants for him, and wishes to run away rather than face his father on the issue (at least not too much). His girlfriend is introduced more slowly, first by dialogue discussions between Allen and the bullies, and then she is revealed later on. Then they (unintentionally) play the game, a mystical board game that looks too well-made from a wooden design standpoint for something that isn’t well known (thus helping with that mystic aura it gives off, sound effects and musical complimentary notes aside). An accidental play, much like how life throws unexpected surprises (some good some bad) at us. Allen is sucked in, and disappears, much as how he intended to run away and disappear. And his girlfriend, Sarah, runs away rather than tries to help him get out of the game (but, in all fairness, she was just a girl at the time, and was scarred emotionally by the whole ordeal, so it’s easy to sympathize with her, just as it’s easy to sympathize with Allen).
Then we are introduced to 2 other characters, Peter and Judy, who we become acquainted with and spend more time with than we did with Allen and Sarah. These two kids also desire an escape from their current lives, which have gone downhill ever since their parents’ unfortunate death via an airplane crash, while on their way to a ski vacation. It’s not until far later in the film that Allen appears again, due to the 2 new kids playing the game. And even later on, Sarah finally re-enters the film. The main characters aren’t firmly established until the film is practically halfway over. Have to admit, when taking it in that context, this film seems rather daring. Having the main protagonists appear early on, then disappear for a good portion of the first hour, and then re-appear to continue the story. The film eases its way into allowing the viewers to be familiar with the main protagonists. And it works.
As the film goes on, Allen, now an adult played by Robin Williams in one of his best roles, eventually comes to realize not just how much his father loved him despite the fight they had, but also what can happen when he runs from his fears. When he visits the old shoe factory, after going through his old town and seeing how terrible it has become compared to what it once was (think Detroit before and after the 60s), he meets a homeless man who is familiar with the town’s history, who must’ve been associated with it to some extent in the past before becoming how he is now. His speech to Allen about how the town became how it is now, how the Shoe Factory went out of business, how it was all because Allen’s father searched for Allen endlessly after Allen disappeared, no longer caring about anything else but finding himself. Likely blaming himself for Allen’s disappearance, thinking he ran away because of him (which is true, but under a different context). It’s such a tear-jerking moment, especially seeing this realization wash across Allen’s face, realizing not just how much his father loved him, but how much damage his running away has caused (metaphorically speaking, as his disappearance was caused against his will, though he did intend to run away prior to that).
But the film doesn’t just settle for the character trying to right the wrongs of the past. It also shows how Allen’s character has evolved. Not just turning into a survivalist with his time in the jungle within the game, but also with how he has become like his father. He is still afraid, hates himself for not being more mature earlier on, but also becomes angry at Peter for wishing to continue playing the game. Because Allen knows what will happen if they do so, that more creatures, and individuals, and weather conditions will emerge from the game to make things worse. He warns Peter of this, but also knows that Peter is right. This doesn’t make him any less angry, and eventually tells Peter in his anger that he needs to man up and face all of this like a man, because it’s Peter’s doing for causing this to happen. Immediately after doing that, Allen realizes how he’s acting like his father in the past, and also realizes how he’s being hypocritical, and tries to comfort Peter after this.
Regarding the facing of fears and taking responsibility, the film handles it as it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And longer one runs from their own fears, the worse things will get. This is shown early on with Allen confronting these bullies after running from them earlier, the bullies chasing him because he went out with their leader’s girlfriend (Sarah). It results in him getting beat up, but then things more or less work out after that. With him running away from his father, and staying away for years (again, the film plays with this with him wanting to run away, and him escaping to Jumanji unintentionally and against his will), this causes consequences resulting in the town going bottom-up economically when the Shoe Factory shuts down due to his father searching for him. It’s also shown from a more metaphorical standpoint with them playing the game, something they must do to resolve everything, and it continually makes things worse not just for the main characters, but for the town around them. It’s not until near the end of the game when Allen finally conquers his fear, his primary fear being that of his own father. It’s some heavy-hitting metaphors, reminding me of Silent Hill 2 with how everything in that game is basically a projection of the protagonists own fears and desires. And yes, I just compared Jumanji to Silent Hill 2.
Jumanji being a 1995 film, two years after Jurassic Park hit theaters, CG is used, but it’s used along with practical effects. Granted, the film hasn’t aged THAT well, but it doesn’t look all that terrible either, all things considered. The CG is dated, but acceptable. Most of the practical effects work, but a couple are laughable (those spiders, I lose it every time they show up). Then there’s instances of blending CG with actual objects, which do a good job of making them seem more real.
So, yeah, a film that I still think is great today. It still works as a character drama mixed with a fun adventure film, with some decent comedy moments thrown in for good measure. Emotional, fun, all around solid even with the somewhat dated effects. As for the sequel…
Rated: 2 / 5
Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here every day!
So like I said, I expected to despise this film. And it started off meeting those expectations. So some metal drummer punk finds the board game in the sands on the beach, more or less picking up where the last film left off. Except that the last film left off with the board game on some beach in Mexico, Puerto Rico, or some place where they speak Spanish. You know, it’s times like these that I think it might be a good idea for American film studios developing a temporary partnership with some foreign studio and allow them to take a jab at the property, whether it’s a remake or a sequel. Seriously, it might not be a bad idea, and a perfect way to inject a different and fresh style into the film. Granted, everyone will be of a different ethnicity and speaking a foreign language and viewers would have to read subtitles (unless they’re lazy assholes who refuse to watch any movie subtitled), but for those of us who care, it would be worth it.
But I digress. Ignoring where the board game wound up in the previous film, this metal dude gets the board game out of the beach sand, takes it to his home, and opens it up to see what it is. He sees it’s a board game, and says something along the lines of, “Who plays board games anymore?” before tossing it aside onto his stack of Playstation games.
Fuck you you fucking fucker! Board games are fucking awesome, even back in the 90s! What, cocksuckers like you never heard of Crossfire!?
How about Forbidden Bridge!?
Kiss my dick and suck my ass! You deserve whatever fate befalls you for pissing off the Jumanji game!
But rather than letting curiosity get the better of him to try out the game, you know, by hearing that drum beat or something (which doesn’t fucking happen!), the board game transforms into some Atari cartridge game or something so that he can play it. What the fuck!?
So that’s basically how they decided to make this into a sequel to Jumanji, by having the board game transform into a video game just for the fuck of it. And you know, from here on out, aside from this dumb fucking reference to the first film that happens in the middle of WttJ, this movie is completely different from Jumanji! They could’ve called this film ANYTHING else, anything not associated with Jumanji, and I wouldn’t be forced to do this comparison bullshit. It has more in common with Tron than it does Jumanji. Stop making half-assed sequels and remakes Hollywood! Do what Disney has been doing since the 90s, ripping off stories and making them their own (The Lion King = Hamlet + Kimba the White Lion, Pocahontas rewriting history, The Little Mermaid being more lighthearted than the original source, etc.). Rip off movies, stop trying to claim that they’re remakes or sequels!
*deep breathe* Ok, with that out of the way, and after metalhead gets sucked into the videogame, the film basically becomes its own thing that bares little resemblance to Jumanji. 4 kids get put into detention, one for be a snot-nosed bitch who refuses to turn her cell phone off, 2 of them because they cheated on their school assignment, and the other because she mouthed off to the PE teacher. And in detention they stumble across this game (somehow), and plug it in, play, and get sucked into it, each becoming a different character based on which character they chose at the start of the game. So each of them is given a new body with certain personality traits that peak through occasionally.
Now, before I continue, it’s worth noting that the dumb fucks who made this movie think that cartridge games actually have a loading screen. Did any of you motherfuckers ever play a Sega Genesis or a Super Nintendo? None of those fucking consoles had loading screens. Why? Because cartridges are faster than CDs! Just take a USB drive compared to a fucking Disc for comparison in today’s world! On that note, I wouldn’t be surprised if games eventually went back to a cartridge style play, assuming everything doesn’t wind up online (not likely since Net Neutrality has been killed and now cocksuckers like Verizon and Comcast can start throttling other companies if they don’t pay a little extra, like in 2005 when Comcast delayed BitTorrent traffic, or in 2007 when AT&T censored Pearl Jam, or 2007-9 when AT&T forced Apple to block Skype, or in 2011 when MetroPCS announced it would block streaming services over its 4G network except for YouTube, or 2012 when Verizon blocked tethering app use on their phones, or when Verizon and Comcast throttled Netflix until 2014 when Netflix agreed to pay them extra, or 2014 when T-Mobile used data caps to manipulate competition, until 2015 when net neutrality was in place until 2017 when that went away [those dipshits will likely throttle my site now just for bringing that up]).
With that tangent out of the way, the plot of the film is that our 4 heroes need to return a green crystal McGuffen to a big McGuffen statue in order to win and get back to the real world. So no, there’s no trying to roll a 5 or an 8 on the dice. That’s all I’ll say about the plot.
So, are there any deep character moments in this film? What the hell do you think? Of course there isn’t! As if you would think otherwise after seeing any of the trailers. There’s this theme of friendship, and acceptance, not being selfish, and of tranny stuff like being a woman trapped in a man’s body, or a wimp trapped in a muscular body (or vice-versa), or an average-looking chick trapped in a hot chick’s body. There’s a line in the movie that goes, “What you are on the outside is not what you are on the inside,” which is stating that it’s your character and personality that counts, not your looks, but it’s more fun to think of this is as a transgender message. Personally, I think the tranny theme existed just so Jack Black could do that role of acting like a woman. And in his case, it works, because he completely steals the show from everyone else. He gets the most laughs and produces the best comedic charisma out of everyone, even doing better than Dwayne Johnson (who also got a couple laughs from me here and there, by doing his usual The Rock routine). He must’ve loved doing this, and I’m not going to lie, despite my gripes, it was fun watching him do this role.
This movie exists primarily to be a comedy, not giving much of a shit about the dramatic moments, which would be fine if it was funnier than it is, but it isn’t. The film is just another typical forgettable comedy affair that offers some chuckles here and there, but nothing that’s going to be all that memorable. It’s not the trainwreck I expected it to be, but it’s still a desecration to the Jumanji film, and it does not deserve to have that word in its fucking title. I would’ve liked it more if it had nothing to do with that title. Just being called Welcome to the Jungle would’ve been fine. Hell, I’d be interested if they just called it Atari Jungle or something.
So in case you didn’t guess from the rating, this movie is a pass. You’re better off tracking down and watching the Jumanji animated series. And you can buy the entire series right now on DVD, all 3 seasons for less than ten dollars (hey, if this fucking movie is going to have advertisements in it, then so will this review!).
PS: Oh, right, and there were some blatant obvious advertisements in this film, mainly with Sony, their PS4, their smartphone, and Dave & Busters. Well, at least they kept it game-themed with the ads.
Note: I have only played this game with the Full Combat Rebalance (FCR) mod. Any input I provide based on the combat gameplay will be a reflection of this, as this mod does give the game a significant overhaul.
Yep, regressed from the 2nd game into the first one. Why? Because I recall from playing it years ago that it was decent so long as you were patient about it. Also because I wanted a refresher on some of the characters before getting back into The Witcher 3. And like in my previous review, I did a (modded) playthrough which I recorded, edited, and uploaded as videos in a movie-like format (currently ongoing). This proved to be more difficult than editing footage for the 2nd game because:
1.) I was nowhere near as familiar with this game as I was with the 2nd.
2.) It’s longer. Five chapters plus a prologue and epilogue vs. the 3 chapters and prologue/epilogue of the 2nd game. This game can easily run you 50 hours of playtime, and unfortunately not all of those 50 hours is fun (more on that later).
3.) Much of the stuff that I wished was a meaningless sidequest, uh, isn’t, exactly. Some of the minor stuff in some of the chapters ends up playing into the main quest of each chapter. That may sound nice, but it isn’t, because most of these side quests just aren’t very interesting (something rectified to the extreme in the 3rd game).
Gameplay and Comparison to Witcher 2
So here’s the thing about this game vs. it’s sequel. Aside from this being graphically inferior (that’s expected), the gameplay is also considerably different. This isn’t an over-the-shoulder (sort of) run-around hack-and-slash like the 2nd game. It plays more like a top-down point-and-click hack-and-slash ala Diablo and Titan’s Quest and Torchwood. You click where you want to move to, your character moves to that spot. You click on an enemy to attack, Geralt will proceed to do a sword combo on it (a combo that increases in sword swings and damage the more you upgrade Geralt, assuming you spend time upgrading his swordsmanship). And there’s 3 different attack styles: fast, strong, and group. Strong attacks are effective against enemies who are unarmored, fast attacks are good against those that are armored, and group attacks are great for when you’re surrounded by foes (though it’s usually best not to get surrounded or flanked). Of course, there’s also magic spells to cast, but I used those rarely in my playthroughs. Granted, if I played on a higher difficulty, that would likely force me to adapt to using spells more often, but the game isn’t worth putting that much effort into in my personal opinion. Others may find it more to their liking.
In any case, I found that I had to think more tactically in combat in this game compared to the sequel. In Witcher 2, I could mostly just hack-and-slash without much worry, especially on the later levels. In this game, I couldn’t do that, even when I was leveling up pretty high. The game succeeds at this partly by not increasing your vitality when you level-up, thus keeping things tense with each combat situation in each chapter. Plus it adds an extra level of interactivity by giving you a small window of opportunity to chain moves together by clicking on the enemy at the right time when the sword symbol changes to a certain shape/color. Click at the right time, you land more seamless blows. Miss it or click too soon, the enemy will likely get more decent hits in before you can start chaining sword blows again.
Leveling up is also different compared to the 2nd game. When you gain enough experience points to level-up, you don’t just gain “talents” to be spent on whatever, oh no. There are 3 types of talents, bronze, silver, and gold. Bronze talents you get on every level-up, silver talents occur less frequently, and gold talents less frequently than that. And these talents aren’t just spread across magic, swordsmanship, and alchemy like in the 2nd game, it’s more branched out than that. There’s a section for strength (increase damage), dexterity (increase dodging/parrying), stamina (increase resistance to poising/bleeding/etc.), and intelligence (making magic and alchemy stronger). That’s just one section. Then there’s a section for upgrading each spell type (Aard, Quen, Yrden, etc.). A section for upgrading silver sword attacks (good against monsters) in either fast, strong, or group style, and another section for doing the same with steel swords (good against humans). Don’t like it as much as the simplified leveling system in the 2nd game, but it’s decent enough. Did make for some somewhat difficult decision-making, which isn’t much of a bad thing, especially when you can see the results of your leveling choices and see where you may need improvement depending on your play-style. I don’t prefer use of magic, but others likely will.
And then there’s the potions and oils, which you make using an alchemy process. Potions strengthen you in some way, while oils are put on sword blades to make them stronger against specific enemy types (humans, specters, insectoids, etc.). Only 1 oil type can be applied to a sword at a time, while you can drink as many potions as you want (theoretically), but each potion you drink poisons you more, and if you go too far into the drinking, your health will start getting sapped, so you need to choose your consumption wisely. The main potion I consumed throughout most of the game is the Swallow potion, which regenerates your health faster than normal. So, yeah, you’ll be swallowing a lot.
Another thing about the gameplay is, like in Witcher 2 and 3, there’s a day/night cycle. Time moves, and NPCs will be in different locations depending on whether it’s day or night, or even dawn/afternoon/dusk/midnight. But unlike those games, this mechanic, while immersive, proves to be frustrating. It gets goddamn annoying when you realize time dictates when and where characters are that you need to interact with in order to complete quests, and you can’t fucking find them until you either wait or meditate to the right fucking time. This wouldn’t be so bad if this game had a tracking system as good as Witcher 2, where you see the destination/objective on the map which is tracked in real-time. Not so in this game. Each quest objective is always listed in the same static map position, regardless of the time of day, so you have to wait for that time of day to interact with so-and-so. This is why I liked Grand Theft Auto V, and least in that game, when you reach an objective and it’s no the right time of day, the game fast-forwards until it is the right time and lets you carry on from there. The day/night mechanic is more trouble than it’s worth, and it drags on the game length needlessly. The immersion is not worth this.
Another little annoyance is the running from one destination to another. Really wish Geralt could run faster from place to place.
Lastly, a lot of the NPCs are recycled. As in it won’t take long to notice that many of them look the same. Get’s particularly frustrating when some of the npcs that play a role in the main plot are hard to distinguish from some anonymous merchant on the street.
So that’s the gameplay. Then there’s the story. Long story short, it’s not as good as The Witcher 2’s story. Mainly because it’s not as intriguing with the plot and characters and political intrigue (though this game does still provide that albeit in watered down doses), but also because it takes a while for things to click into high gear. The prologue is typical introductory fluff. Chapter 1 is more of the same, with most of the events proving to be insignificant to what would come later, and is more of a stand-alone chapter to get the player more acquainted with the gameplay and the “decisions have consequences” feel. Oh, right, you do get to make choices in this game that produce different outcomes, but unlike the sequel, there are no alternate endings. Only 1 endings, and how you get there can alter slightly, and almost no decision you make will alter how the sequel(s) play out; save for saving or killing Princess Adda (whom you get to bang, of course), but even then it’s just a minor afterthought brought up in Witcher 2, and hardly even noticeable in Witcher 3 without a mod if I remember correctly.
So like I was saying, the Prologue does get the story going, giving you a goal and motivation. Chapter 1 more-or-less just gets you acquainted with the gameplay and only 2 other significant characters (for about 5-8 hours). Then comes Chapter 2, which is easily the slowest fucking chapter in this entire fucking game. So many sidequests that, to this game’s credit, do link up to the main quest. But in hindsight nothing really significant happens in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 exists to get you familiar with the main city you’ll be spending most of the game in, and those who live within it, and some backstory. The gangs, thugs, drug addicts, poor people, old people, the hospital, those infected by the plague, the knights of the Order, the town watch, the grave-digger, the humans and non-humans, some people from Geralt’s past, etc. It sounds nice and all, but not for 10 fucking hours with the plot progressing at a pace so slow even snails would be feeling sorry for you. Chapter 2 is a glorified detective/mystery, where solving it doesn’t really accomplish much or move the plot forward hardly at all. It’s just for atmosphere and getting you familiar with the world.
Thankfully, once you get past Chapter 2, it only gets better from there. The political intrigue picks up in Chapter 3, where you wonder about Triss’ intentions and ulterior motives, you get more involved with the conflict between the Order of the Flaming Rose and the Scoia’tael, learn some interesting things about the criminal organization the Salamandra, and how they link into different sects high and low, and how they are used by those sects. And it only gets better from there. And I have to admit, by the time it got to the epilogue, a plot twist came up that, to this game’s credit, I honestly did not see coming, even if in hindsight I should have.
Chapter 4 slows things down a bit, but not to the extent of Chapter 2. And, again, it slows things down so you can get familiar with a particular character who pops up off and on throughout the previous chapters (excluding the prologue). Then when it gets to Chapter 5, full steam ahead all the way through to the prologue. It becomes pretty damn difficult to stop playing the game once Chapter 5 hits. And it all leads to a potential “end of the world” scenario. You know, like just about every single fucking RPG game ever made because creators/writers/corporations think having the stakes set that high is the only way to have a rousing and intense finale. I always roll my eyes at plots like this about as often as I roll my eyes at forced love interests in both games and film, because both usually come off as cheap and easy ways to get the player/viewer invested in the character(s) and/or plot. If you want my appreciation, make the characters interesting via their interactions with one another, their motivations, their personal journey and character arc. Which is why I have an appreciation for Witcher 2’s plot because it accomplished exactly that. The plot isn’t about the end of the world so much as the fate of a nation (or several), and how the leaders have their own personal goals, how they each treat their own people, and how your character feels about that and if he will side with any of them, or none. On top of that, there are also character well aware of his amnesia who may or may not be trying to take advantage of him because of that. Is he being used? Is he choosing to be used? Does he (or anyone else for that matter) have free will? What’s the price to pay for existence? Did you do the right thing?
Now in this game, it does focus primarily on the purpose of Geralt, what’s his motivation, what’s his character. They make this simple by starting the game off with him as an unknown prisoner who breaks free to make a name for himself and save the world. Wait, I got that wrong, that’s like every Bethesda game ever made. They make it simple by starting the game off with him running through the wilderness being chased by some ominous unseen figure calling his name (like the opening to the Witcher 2, but with worse graphics and camerawork), and he awakens at Kaer Morhen (home to a school of Witchers), with no memory. Then the place gets attacked, and he is off on his own to find out about the attackers, get their Witcher shit back that was stolen from them, and learn about himself in the process.
Now, it’s the “learning about himself” that is key here, in an attempt to make the players become attached to Geralt. The player is faced at several points in the game to make decisions that not only have consequences, but determine just what kind of a character Geralt is going to be now. Will he be like his old self? Will he follow the Witcher’s code? Or will he choose a side in the ongoing conflict between the Order and the Scoiatel? This may seem a bit more common in today’s RPGs, and I can’t say this is the first game to do this (the earliest in current memory is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), but 2007 seemed to be a big year for games like this where this sort of “choose your own adventure” RPGs became more prominent. After all, this game was released in the same year as Mass Effect (though it doesn’t look as good from a graphic’s standpoint).
Now, while this “choose your own adventure” element seems nice and all, the game becomes a bit of a dick about the whole thing during the later chapters. If you choose not to remain neutral during the events of Chapter 4, characters in Chapter 4 and 5 won’t let you hear the end of it. Basically, the game is just straight up telling you, “How dare you play it your way! How dare you not stay lore friendly and true to the Witcher’s code! For shame!” Basically made me flip them the bird before reloading to an earlier save prior to one of those “choices” and go for the more neutral path. Yes, I’ll admit it, the game shamed me into doing it, and I was pissed about it.
So anyway, the story does get good, it just takes a while to get there. And by a while, I mean 15+ hours. This is not a short game. Hell, I positive it takes longer to get through than Assassins of Kings does. According to howlongtobeat.com, this game is anywhere from 10-15 hours longer than Witcher 2, and it feels that way during the early sections. But, again, if you have the patience, and can withstand some mediocre voice-overs and some slow slogs, the game does manage to feel worth it in the end.
Comparison to Mass Effect
It’s worth comparing the two (briefly) because, despite the fact that both games play completely differently and occur in entirely different settings, both games share similar flaws, and were released in the same year (2007). I’ll be the first to admit that Mass Effect is the better game compared to The Witcher. That being said, I’d be hesitant to play either game again in the near future, especially Mass Effect. Why? Because the decisions you are forced to make in The Witcher are more thought-provoking and intriguing than in Mass Effect, in my opinion. Plus, while the side quests aren’t THAT interesting in The Witcher, I’d take those over the monotonous side quests of Mass Effect. In The Witcher, at least the side quests involve some preparation and learning, where you have to prep yourself for the monsters to go after, and fight differently for each one. Some of the environments are similar (particularly the caves), but most of the time the encounters are in distinct areas to give them a different feel. In Mass Effect, holy Christ! The side quests sucked ass! Similar levels/rooms/buildings (to the point where I’m positive they were clones of each other), the same fucking enemies making the same fucking comments (which they took comedic jabs at in Mass Effect 2), and it became a chore real fast. But when it came to the main quest(s), I’d have to give the edge to Mass Effect. The story was told better and paced better, if you discount the side quests.
And also like Mass Effect 2, Witcher 2 could be played by carrying over your save file from Witcher 1 and have some influence over the plot in that game. However, it was much more significant in Mass Effect 2, just about everything you did in the first game had an impact in the 2nd game, a significant and noticeable impact too, even with those shitty side quests from the first game. In Witcher 2, to be honest, it really doesn’t matter that much if you carry over the save or not (again, something heavily rectified in Witcher 3). And that’s all the comparisons I’ll make for those 2 sequels.
In regards to the gameplay, Mass Effect is more involving, where you have to constantly aim and shoot (or aim and cast, depending on your preference), and had a greater variety of play-styles compared to that of The Witcher. Granted, Witcher has variety too, where you can focus on spells or swords, or a combination of both, but the variety is greater and more noticeable in Mass Effect. Plus Mass Effect had more tactics where you could direct squad members to attack other enemies in a certain way, or hang back, or use an item/ability, etc. In The Witcher, it’s only your character Geralt, and his fighting styles, and that’s it. But Mass Effect’s tactical play comes at the cost of pausing the gameplay so you can click on an ability, aim it at an enemy or ally, and then un-pause it. Some people like this style of play, and to be honest it didn’t bother me all that much in Mass Effect. But games like Dragon Age: Origins (released 2 years after Mass Effect and The Witcher) where you’re doing the same thing except from a top-down perspective just didn’t gel with me. So I probably would’ve hated The Witcher if it incorporated this aspect so heavily. Granted, you can pause mid-battle to get a better angle on things, but this didn’t happen very often with my playthrough.
I know that CD Project Red was a small-time indie company at this point, so they had less finances to work with when making this game, and it is admirable that it turned out as good as it did under the circumstances. But it is what it is, and I can only judge it by how I feel now, and I’m not going to take it easy on it just because of the circumstances surrounding the making of them game, I’m just going to judge the game as-is. Both games are good, both have faults, and Mass Effect is probably the better made one overall. But neither one is something I would likely want to revisit while it’s still fresh in my memory, especially when the sequels to both games are so much better.
Mass Effect’s strongest point is its story and universe-building, getting into the races, their interactions, and how the main character can impact all of them. The central character(s) tend to be secondary to that. This does not mean the characters are weak, they each have their motivations and such. However, they seem too influenced by what you (acting as the protagonist) do and want to happen, being less independent in their own right. The game cuts a fine line between them acting on their own and acting based on how you want, and it works fine as is. It tends to be on the fan-service side in regards to characters.
While the Witcher has a world-building aspect to it in terms of Temeria and its occupants, it’s focus is less on that and more on the character of Geralt himself. How much is he influenced by others? Should he be influenced by them? The characters in The Witcher come off as more independent and self-motivated than those in Mass Effect. While Mass Effect has the aspect of, “Your leadership and influences those around you.” In other words, the lives of most other major characters seems to revolve around the main character, and thus revolve around you. The Witcher seems to be the reverse of this. It’s more like, “How much are you influenced by those around you?” Because the game continuously jabs at you for the decisions you make, making you wonder if you made the right decision, or if there ever was a right decision to make. In this case having the game end the same way no matter what, while changing the way it gets there, fits perfectly because of the whole fate/destiny theme being brought up. The free will theme being an extension of the player pulling the protagonist’s strings. Or is it the player having their strings pulled by others in the game? Either way, the message is the same. You may or may not choose to get caught up in a cause, or to stay neutral to them all; but no matter what you do, do not forget about yourself and what really matters to you, what your principles are, and if choosing or not choosing a cause runs the risk of you being forced to violate your principles. The fact that Geralt is imperfect and is guaranteed to make mistakes (regardless of players trying to choose the lesser of evils, or not) is what makes him a fascinating character, and is what makes the game every bit as memorable as Mass Effect. That, and he’s capable of banging more broads, and of different races too (speaking of similarities to Mass Effect).
Plus the last act of the game will have you questioning whether or not you’re doing the right thing, and I love games that provoke that thought. Indicates it’s smart enough to make a lot of grey rather than keeping things black and white. Mass Effect tends to be more on the black and white side of things. If you make a decision that doesn’t involve saving/sparing lives, sometime down the road you will be punished for it. In the case of the Witcher, sparing a life or killing someone doesn’t always result in a good or bad thing. And even if it does result in a good thing, down the line it could lead to a bad thing, and vice versa. It’s what makes the better moments of The Witcher stick with me. That being said, the sequels took this element and did it better, especially in Witcher 3.
The Witcher is a more deep thought provoking philosophical and character study at its core, while Mass Effect is more of a fun sci-fi ride with plenty of story and lore and, dare I say, universe to keep it interesting. That being said, both games have a bit of both, I’m just mentioning the main narrative strengths of each. Looking back on both, the main thing that stuck with me regarding the Witcher was Triss’ mysterious backdoor political dealings in Chapter 3 (which ultimately made her a fully realized 3-dimensional character), and the whole finale from Chapter 5 and onwards which provoked a sense of guilt and wonder. With Mass Effect, I enjoyed getting introduced to the universe and all that lived within, how the races worked, what their personalities and traits are, the first appearance of Saren, the confrontation with Liara’s mother and the spider monster, and everything from when the original creators of the Citadel are revealed and all the way to the action-packed finale. Both games know how to put on a finale.
Why I revisited the game
I brought up earlier that one of the reasons I wanted to play through this again was to get familiar with the characters again. Because some characters who are in this game are not in the 2nd one, yet they make reprising roles in Witcher 3. Sure I could’ve just watched one of those 3-6 hour “movie version” videos online, and I was tempted, and that sure as shit would’ve been less time-consuming than this game, but I wanted to experience this game again, even if it’s for one last time. Plus I wanted to see if it’s still fun to play today. And I must admit, if you have the patience and are willing to invest into it and become immersed in the world, it is worth it. If you can get to Chapter 3, the rest of the game is a breeze in terms of pacing and progression. It becomes quite captivating at that point. Plus it does have some unintentional hilarity with the dialogue.
So, the game is flawed, tests your patience, but is a decent enough experience. If you’re to play any version, makes sure it’s the Enhanced Edition (like how Witcher 2 got an enhanced edition, and how Witcher 3 got a Game of the Year edition). Despite the annoyances and frustrations, there’s enough here to make it worthwhile. But it’s only worthwhile if you play all the way to the end. That will run you around roughly 50 hours.
* A good storyline with some intrigue and questions on morality and destiny, and will leave you pondering on some points.
* Some colorful characters.
* Combat on any difficulty above Easy can prove challenging in a fun way, encouraging tactics and positioning and timing, plus some prep-work that fits with the whole theme/lore of how witchers work.
* Great finale.
* Immersive and interesting world.
* The plot pacing is spotty, and requires much patience before getting to the good stuff.
* Graphics are dated, even with the mods.
* Too many NPCs that look exactly the same.
* Voice-acting ranging from acceptable to laughable.
* Running from one objective to the next gets tiresome.
* Uninteresting side-quests.
* The dice-poker still sucked as much as it did in the 2nd game.
* The brawl mini-game is really not that good (gets better with the sequels, especially #3).
* The camera angles during some of the dialogue bits are terrible some of the time.
And should you choose to undertake the endeavor of playing this game, I know of some mods that will make it less painful. Which brings me to the other reason I’ve decided to go through this again. None of the videos are of the modded version, at least not in terms of graphics mods. Well, time to bring them up:
This is THE main graphics mod to get. Makes the game and characters look so much better. I mean, look at the comparisons between the vanilla game and modded game version of Geralt:
[Geralt image comparison]
And it not only makes the major characters look better, but also enhances the look of the UI. There’s one other mod next to this one that I consider mandatory. The only thing I don’t like is what they did with the druid chick and the water nymph.
[druid image comparison]
Would not play this game without this mod. Makes combat more tactical and deep using a very simple method. It makes Geralt more susceptible to high damage when taking hits from the sides or the back (especially the latter). Something the developers liked so much they incorporated it into the second Witcher game. On top of that, enemies no longer just appear wherever just for the hell of it, they are more focused in areas they live in. Drowners stay near the water, swamp monsters stay near the swamp and/or islands in the swamp. In other words, enhances the immersion and lore, and gives a heavier dose of tactics to the combat.
Witcher High Res Character Models
Improves the looks of most other characters in the game that Rise of the White Wolf missed (though you will need to remove some files if you don’t want them overwriting that particular mod).
Stop the Rain
If you think it rains too much, you’ll be given access to a scroll that, when read, gradually stops the rain. Immersion-breaking in the sense that Geralt has the ability to control the weather, plus I’ve never personally used it. But hey, for those who are interested.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS FOR BOTH THE FILM AND THE NOVEL
If I had seen this movie before I read the book, I would have thought it was just ok. But because I saw this after I read the book, I thought it wasn’t all that great.
The biggest problem this movie has is a problem I fear that every novel adaptation has, and that’s pacing. The movie is too fast for its own good. It doesn’t allow the viewer to settle into a single scene for very long. There are a couple exceptions, such as the first time the students enter the Battleroom. But for the majority of the film, it’s difficult to get into because the scene transitions happen too often without allowing the atmosphere to set in, or allowing the characters to settle into their respective roles for how they are to act in a scene. This film doesn’t have the worst case of this symptom that I’ve seen, but the film suffers from it regardless.
Oh God has it been too long since I’ve witnessed a film that gives me so much material to work with for my review. So eager to type down my thoughts. Oh, and if you’re wondering if there’s going to be spoilers, you bet your ass there’s going to be spoilers. I’m going to spoil the shit out of the 2017 film, the 1990 film, and the novel. Yep, I’ve been reading the novel too.
Oh, and by the way, I will be spoiling the shit out of this.
“I see why you like this video camera so much. It’s not quite reality. It’s totally like a filtered reality man. It’s like you can pretend everything is not quite the way it is.”
I enjoyed The Blair Witch Project. It’s a film that I find solid to this day. I did not enjoy this new one. Rather than go into too much detail about just that film itself, I’m just going to compare the two, and mention why it is exactly that the first one is superior in every way to the new film. I’ll be going by the points below, stating how the reboot/sequel utilized them, and then comparing it to the 1999 film.
“I don’t wanna go cheesy, I want to really avoid any cheese. I want to present this in as straightforward a way as possible. And I think the legend is unsettling enough.”
1.) The camera movement
Jesus Christ. No one shoots footage like this! No one! By no one I mean amateurs who go around filming stuff unprofessionally. I’m not talking about the scenes where they’re running around like maniacs, I’m talking about the more quiet calm moments. They don’t do that zooming in and out randomly an various subjects, both animate and inanimate. Granted, in the first film, they tend to shoot some bits of footage a little too good without much shaking, even during the finale when they’re going about the cabin, but I’ll take that over what the hell they did in this film.
Heavy footstep sounds, like they are straight out of the Slenderman game. I’m honestly not so sure the original film utilized footsteps to this extent. It sounds like a giant troll rumbling around the forest. A great big tremendous inhuman force. Not exactly as subtle as in the first film, which pretty much sums up everything about this reboot (I refuse to call it a sequel for reasons I will give below). Nothing is subtle about this film. Every opportunity it can, it does jump scares, and makes some loud bang sound whenever that happens, whether it’s an actual shriek from the witch or some other supernatural force (the first film kept the witch invisible from an audio standpoint), to the whole, “Whoah, hey, it’s just me, I just decided to sneak up behind you and scare the ever loving shit out of you rather than respond to you calling my name because that’s what rational people would do in a situation like this,” sort of jump scare. It’s stupid.
Now in the original film when it came to the intriguing sounds, they tended to be faint and distant. That added to the creepiness of the environment. And the film took its time making the dread grow with each passing night, from cracks in the distance, to the sounds of children that grew closer, to the sounds of one of their friends crying out in the distance. There was no “BOOM! Did I scare you?” moments. It did what any respectable horror film would do, it gets under your skin and stays there. As opposed to the jump scare sounds which go for immediate payoff and have no lingering effect or build up as a result. Unless a few seconds of buildup is good enough for you, but it shouldn’t be.
Ok, so neither film is supposed to look that great since they’re supposed to be shot by amateurs with average (at the time) film gear. In the original, it’s just typical VHS handheld devices with, like 240p quality, maybe 360 at best. In this one, it’s 360p minimum, 720 at best. And it’s all in color, as opposed to the first film where 1 camera was in color, the other was black and white. Not only that, but they use first-person gear by way of mini-cameras that hook onto the ear, normal cameras, and a drone that never really does anything useful in the film.
Unlike the first film, there’s some definite special effects going on in the reboot. Tents go flying in the air, seeds grow roots inside of a leg (which doesn’t seem to serve any purpose in the long-run), glimpses of the witch, people disappearing in rooms, and other such tricks. It all becomes like a horror maze at Knott’s Scary Farm, with the same short term jump scares.
In the original film, everything seemed played out naturally, at first anyway. They go into the woods, they see some rock mounds, then the creep factor goes up a notch when they see the infamous stick people hanging around a bunch of trees, like they’ve stumbled upon souls that are trapped in the forest. Then there’s the handprints on the walls in the house.
New film, I don’t recall there being rock mounds, but there were stick figures (put out there much more bluntly), tents flying, cuts bulging, a tree falling, figures running within the house and not being there when a character turned the corner, a more unnatural looking house from the inside (it looks nothing like the house in the original film by the way), crawling within a tunnel that just so happens to be there for seemingly no reason at all, being jerked off camera, pounding against a door and splinters flying, and other such stuff. Again, subtle creepiness vs. in your face scares.
The new film, I just couldn’t get into the pacing all that much. Up until the second night in the woods, events happened quickly, but they weren’t interesting. It starts with footage recovered, where one of the main protagonists is like, “Hey, that’s my sister!” which is bullshit because nothing in the original film looked anything like that footage, but I guess that get’s explained away in a nonsensical fashion later on, which I’ll get to. They quickly gather camera gear, other members, drink at a nightclub, go into the woods, try to go out of the woods but circumstances have them go back to their old campsite. After that, the film finally gets interesting with the stick figures showing up, new plot developments that gives the woods a more supernatural twist that the first film didn’t do at all, the jump scares increase exponentially, some voodoo doll shit happens, they try to sleep it off but can’t, they make it to the cabin in the woods where it turns into a haunted house flick where everything starts happening more frantically, and so on.
So, in keeping with the theme that’s been running so far, the reboot tries to get things done faster which removes the whole creeping dread element. The original, on the other hand, took its time setting things up before the shit hit the fan. They get food and supplies, talk to people around town to get a buildup for the legend of the blair witch and the local town tales, which sets up for things that will happen later, they go into the forest with one uneventful day and night, they discover a few things on the later day, weird stuff happens on the second night, and it progresses from their, slowly getting worse and worse over the course of several days and nights. The remake only took place over the course of 2 days and nights (well 3 nights if you count the supernatural element). Both films are close to the same length, and yet the pacing of the original made for a more investing film in my opinion because of the slow buildup and more natural character interaction. The reboot, I didn’t really know or give a shit about any of the characters. No character was given much background in either film, but the original at least allowed the characters to clearly show their personality traits to make them more defined, while the reboot forced them into stereotypes and common caricatures that go off a checklist of what to expect of roles in films like this. One could argue that this is because there are 6 main people in the reboot as opposed to 3 in the original, but consider the John Carpenter version of The Thing, which had more players involved than this film, and yet gave each of them enough time to let their personalities shine through and give them personality, without succumbing to 2-dimensional stereotypes. That film was longer, but maybe Blair Witch should’ve been too, even though I doubt the talent was there in the first place to make the characters interesting at all.
5.) Lore Building
The first film built up quite a lot of lore, especially during the first 15 minutes. Burkittsville, Maryland, once known as Blair, Maryland, has legends of what happened at Coffin Rock, a location in the woods. Stories of how 7 children disappeared in the 1940s, and of how Mr. Pyer killed them in his home up in the mountain, throwing a kid in the corner so he wouldn’t look at him, because he couldn’t stand them looking at him, while he killed the others before finally killing that corner kid. Others said it was because the woods were haunted that the children were found dead in the forest, or disappeared. Stories of people coming across the Blair Witch, one claiming to have seen her and that she touched her arm, and was covered in black hair all over her body (a description that is ignored in the new film). Then there’s the tail of 5 men bound from their hands to each other’s ankles, gutted with their entrails hanging out, and writings carved into their backs and left to die upon the creek at Coffin Rock. Different stories from different people. But then things get mysterious and interesting when the 3 main characters find 7 stone mounds (7 missing children), hear sounds of children playing in the darkness, find 3 piles on a later day (1 for each of them), one goes missing after disturbing one of the 7 mounds, the stick people in the woods, the handprints in the house, and one of them standing in the corner during the final moments of the film.
The new film, I wouldn’t say it builds upon things so much as changes them and takes liberties with the story. No rock mounds, none of them get disturbed by anyone. No children. No buildup by the local townsfolk. There’s word on how a search party looked for the 3 from the first film, and only recovered the tapes, and found no house in the woods. Other than that, the stick figures appear again, only hanging directly over the party’s tents overnight, indicating that their souls are already trapped in the woods for some reason. And time becomes meaningless. Sometimes the sun never comes up even when it should. Other times days will pass for some, while only hours pass for others. There’s some pointless thing about a seed taking root and growing within one person somehow someway that doesn’t make a lot of sense even within the context of this film. We see glimpses of the blair witch, learn that she can break people’s wills and get them to do her bidding, and she will play sound tricks on you. But then we learn that standing in a corner and not looking at her protects you from her, because she will only take you if you see her. This completely goes against the reason for the corner standing in the first film. And lastly, there’s this thing on how the footage shown at the beginning of the film that led them to the house was their own footage that they shot during the finale of the movie all along. It’s stupid. Honestly, it just seems like a lot of bullshit to me that belongs in a different film that could build up it’s own lore. This film should’ve kept the title The Woods, and take any mention of The Blair Witch out of its title and out of the movie.
6.) Black guy dies first
That’s not a comparison to the first film, it just gives me an excuse to use this gif:
Alternate endings to The Blair Witch Project: #1 #2 #3 #4
There’s a good Scooby Doo parody of The Blair Witch Project (a couple different versions with an alternate ending) made in the same year this film got released, and it’s frikkin brilliant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YeDbDZ3oAE
God I loved the 90s.
Oh, and lastly, there’s something else I can recommend over Blair Witch that really goes to show what sort of talent and potential is left in the found footage genre, and can really scare the hell out of you, even without audio at certain points. Marble Hornets. It’s basically a found footage series based upon Slender Man, a true contender for Blair Witch inspired mythology if I ever saw one. I found it truly unnerving, and a hell of a lot better than Blair Witch (2016). This is how you do found footage (along with the 1999 Blair Witch Project).