Cowboy Bebop series (1998) and movie (2001) review

The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship “BEBOP”, will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP

Series Rating: 5 / 5
Film Rating: 3.5 / 5

 

Cowboy Bebop. Probably the first major anime I introduced myself to when I was younger, outside of Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Yu Hakusho anyway (didn’t see much of the latter). One of those series I found myself coming back to on a couple of occasions, including recently. I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered. Well, it wasn’t. It was better.

Despite its episodic structure, in the sense that each episode is sort of stand-alone, there is an overarching theme to the whole thing. It’s all about the weight of the past, and the ways it affects the present. Every episode has that aspect of it to some extent. Whether it’s a character’s past mistake or broken relationship, a misdeed done by a government or corporate agency, old vs. new technology, or even a callback to a past cultural influence such as the western cowboys, Japanese samurai, or the Jazz/Blues music of the 70s exploitation era. It all affects one or more of the major characters in each episode in some way.

Each episode tackles this central theme in a different way, while also building upon the central protagonists who are in (almost) every episode themselves, or the galaxy they inhabit. This is a setting where mankind has acquired the technology to colonize a few planets in the solar system, thanks to jump gate technology (which itself had at least one catastrophic event with its development, which has affected individuals in certain episodes), and the development of various forms of spacecraft, small and large (including one ship design giving it the look of a tommy gun), capable of entering and exiting planet atmospheres and flying in space. And aside from ship technology, it is also possible to change one’s identity if one has enough cash (woolongs). Some episodes show a man going from skinny to fat, from a white guy to a black guy, a man to a woman, etc. Primarily with the intention to evade authorities and bounty hunters (the latter of which exist because there isn’t enough of a police presence on a solar system scale to track down all criminals).

Just as the criminals can’t outrun apprehension from the hunters or the authorities forever, neither can the protagonists, or anyone for that matter, outrun their past forever. The past only serves to chain us down until it is confronted and resolved. Yet one may find themselves in a position where resolving the past is impossible, or so one could think. There are multiple ways to resolve the weight of the past, each way leading to a different outcome. After all, the criminal could always just turn themselves in, an option that was presented in at least one of the episodes (though they never seem to take that option). It’s more about figuring out a way to let oneself be reconciled with their own past. Otherwise, being so hooked up on the past, you’ll be unable to appreciate what you have in the present. And if you stay hooked up on the past long enough, the stuff in the present you could’ve appreciated may be gone, just like the past.

And incredibly enough, this is a mature series. And by mature, I don’t mean in regards to the violent content or the sexual content or the nudity (the latter of which is only present very briefly in one episode). I mean mature in the themes themselves. Past weight and consequences aside, have you noticed a trend in most anime films that are out there? The same kind of trend that occurs in most films over the past few decades? This series is not one about “the coming of age,” or, “realizing/fulfilling one’s destiny,” or, “overcoming impossible odds through comradery and personal discovery,” the latter of which is something I tire of seeing, because it’s fucking everywhere, in virtually everything that is classified as an action/fantasy/adventure film. It’s about adults, who are likely past their prime, trying to rediscover a meaning in their life, to try and make a living in their self-employed conditions and harsh lifestyle. Adults who have no more life-lessons to be learned. Because normally, a situation like that acts as the motivation for the protagonist to do any of the previous traditional film/series arcs. We need more series and films with mature content like this, without any quest or destiny to be fulfilled. We need films and shows that teach us to be mature in their own way.

But anyway, funnily enough, the first episode I ever saw of this series is the same episode a few people I’ve become acquainted with coincidentally first saw. Heavy Metal Queen. And yes, it’s still one of my favorites, with this space trucker chick who blasts heavy metal music, plus that awesome sequence where Spike Spiegal is attempting to hop from one ship to another, by ejecting himself into space without a suit. My other favorites include Mushroom Samba (the “Edward” episode that’s also all about 70s blacksploitation, and a bit of Django), Gateway Shuffle, and Wild Horses. That being said, all the episodes are great.

As for the characters, the major characters are all solid. Spike and his Bruce-Lee inspired martial arts and philosophy, Jet being his stubborn hard-ass self, Fey being dangerous seductive manipulative and somewhat self-destructive, Ein just for being there, and Edward. Edward completely steals the show from everyone else, for two reasons. One, she is so wacky and unique and fun. Two, the English voice actress for her is unbelievably great. We’re talking greatest dub for one of the greatest animated characters of all time great. On-par with Mark Hamill’s dub of the Joker.

There’s a reason this is considered not only one of the best gateway anime series to watch, but also one of the greatest of all time. Accessible and deep, and ages like fine wine.  Some episodes are hilarious, others great solid action/drama/noir/thriller entertainment, others pack an emotional gut-punch.  It doesn’t answer every question raised or hinted at, and that’s perfectly fine, because it’s good to leave people wondering about some of these things, to have some mystery about the past, and how some characters will turn out in the end. And unlike most anime, it’s also refreshing to see one that has a definitive end.  With it’s mismatch of different genres and episode structures, and managed to pull things together in such a perfect concoction, it’s a true lightning in a bottle series.

 

 

 

And then there’s the movie Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

It does a bit of development on Spike’s character, but it’s not really anything any true fan didn’t already pick up on from the series. But it does have those bitchin’ insta-noodles, and the callback to the battle on Titan (and no, this has nothing to do with that series Attack on Titan, though I’ll eventually get around to watching the latest season of that), with another dimension to it. Another example of how fucked up things were in that war. The show and the movie never does enough to show/tell all with what happened there, and that’s a good thing. All you need to know was that it was hell, and there were some weird biological/chemical/nano experiments utilized on some of the soldiers in some of the battles. It’s more of a background thing among a bunch of other background elements in both the movie and the series. It has enough subtle world-building moments to compare to the series.

I want to like the movie more than I currently do. It’s a decent enough stand-alone (fitting in with the episodic nature of the series). Not the best entry, maybe not the worst (though the worst is better than most anime can approach). But it is a real slow burn at times, especially during the first half. The filmmakers really wanted to indulge in having that extra time they wished they had to pad things out, going from a 25 minute episode, to a 90 minute movie. It’s just that you can really feel the slow crawl at times.

Thankfully, the film kicks into high gear at two separate points, from Fey chasing the hacker arcade guy, and leading to the fight on the subway; then the breaking out of jail all the way to the finale. It made getting through the slow portions worth it. That’s not to say the slow portions were entirely bad, they had some decent moments too. Like Edward and Ein going trick or treating (this movie should be watched annually for Halloween!).

There are two aspects of this film that make it truly memorable. First, the fights between Spike and Vincent, especially during the finale. It’s some of the best martial arts sequences ever put to animation, and I challenge anyone to find grounded fight sequences in any animated film that does it better than this (CG does not count, and fuck anyone who tries to pull that shit; you won’t find any grounded fights that use CG anyway; sorry if that’s coming off as harsh, I’m boozed up for this review [not while I was watching the movie]).

Second, the sequence where Spike is flying his ship and dodging the military aircraft. Holy God. That whole bit is a masterpiece in animation. You can feel the weight, you can feel the change in gravity and momentum. They put so much effort into making these aircraft seem real that it’s insane. This sequence doesn’t get anywhere near enough of the appreciation it deserves, especially for a non-CG animation sequence. I’m sure there are other anime films/shows that have reached the level of this sequence, if not surpassed it. But it’s more than a pleasant surprise to see something like that in this movie. I also appreciate that it doesn’t dumb down the military aircraft/pilots just to have the protagonist have a chance. They use some intelligent maneuvering, and it’s never anything really over-the-top.

And that’s one of the things I appreciate about this anime flick. Just because it’s an anime (let alone an animation) doesn’t mean they have to go full bonkers with it by doing stuff that defies the laws of physics and couldn’t possible be done in a live-action film. They keep it grounded, which makes it all the more investing for someone like me. Plus there aren’t enough solid R rated animated flicks out there, especially ones that don’t do R-rated stuff just for the sake of having an R-rating, or for the sake of being exploitative, and really cartoonish. That’s not to say I don’t get enjoyment out of animated flicks that do just that (Dead Leaves, Heavy Metal, Golgo 13: The Professional, Redline), it’s just refreshing to see one that makes an extra effort to stay in grounded territory when it comes to the action.

So I’d say that extra half star is partly for appreciation of what the film contains compared to other animated flicks out there, and also partly just for being a Cowboy Bebop flick, with the same director, and same voice actors. The film didn’t do a disservice to the show, but I can’t say it’s outstanding in it’s own right. It’s just there, as a stand-alone extended episode. And that’s perfectly fine.

I do have to admit though. Considering this was originally released in Japan September 1, 2001, 10 days prior to 9/11, and it has a Middle Easter character responsible for developing a bio-weapon (and the vaccine for it), terrorist bombing killing hundreds of civilians, plus brief imagery of the twin towers, it got a bit eerie. It makes some of the more subtle themes and background stories somewhat relevant, though you have to pay attention to catch it.

 

 

 

PS: Just to get ahead of the curve, fuck you Netflix for fucking this up.

 

Amazons (1986) drunk review

I guess I’m not done doing these types of reviews.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever, unless my liver gets fucked up somehow.

I’m in the mood for some 80s sword and sorcery flicks.  But not the ones that are in the top 5 that hold the highest standard for the rest.  Those would be Conan: The Barbarian, The Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Deathstalker, and Red Sonja (I honestly haven’t seen that last one; I tried once, but couldn’t get into it).  No, not those ones.  I’m talking about the more lower tier flicks, that look like they have a backyard budget and are always shot on location, in a forest.  And the only thing they really have going for them aside from the genre are the hot chicks willing to show their skin.

I have seen a couple of these that actually aren’t half bad.  But most of them are pretty fucking terrible.  Let’s see where this one falls.

If nothing else, the 80s sure knew how to make some great posters that were too good for the films they represented.  I miss those.

 

Not sure how I feel about the soundtrack so far.  Sounded bad at first, then it got a bit better the longer it went.  Foreshadowing of this film being a mixed bag?

Executive producer Roger Corman.  Whoah boy, we’re in for it now.

I swear, I didn’t mess with the editing at all.

Weird editing choices with the women warriors practicing their staff swinging.  “Huh!  Hyah!  He!  Hye!”  I swear, some of the shouting gets cut-off mid-shout.  Almost sounds like what you would hear playing a 16-bit videogame.  They should’ve made a sword and sorcery side-scroll beat-em-up done in thee same vane as Streets of Rage.  Oh wait, they did, Golden Axe.  Well, I want an all-female scantily clad version damnit!

There’s an evil king named King Kaloomba?  What the fuck?  Well in that case, I wanna know where King Koopa is!  I mean, I could be mishearing this, maybe it’s King Kalunga or something, not that it doesn’t sound any less ridiculous.

The lighting hand effects.  I gotta make a meme-gif out of that.

Phahah!  The sounds they make during this battle scene!  I swear, some guys are yelling, “Get out of here!” to the enemy.

I love how these women try to act badass, yet some falling rocks make them react like an elephant seeing a mouse.  It’s actually kind of adorable.

The soldiers talking to their king after they got beaten up by the Amazons, “[The Amazon women] fought like demons!”  Heheh.

And yeah yeah yeah, the typical, “There is no mercy for failure” speech.

Ok, as much as I like some of the cheesiness, I’m not really getting into this movie.  I don’t give a shit about the plot, I’m not spending enough time with any of the characters to give a shit about any of them.

Are those guys who look like women, or are they women without tits?  They’re hot either way.

Hah!  How they are so casual with how they practice with their spears (or whatever you call those weapons).  As in not putting much effort into it.

Oh yeah, and just like that they know where to look for this long lost sword no one’s been able to find.  Because of some vague vision that doesn’t give any details.  Whatever.

Maybe his name is Kolungo.  I don’t know, their pronunciation of his fucking name seems to change every time they say it.  Goddamnit, now I’m too curious about the name.  What the fuck does IMDB say about its spelling?

According to IMDB, it’s spelled Kalungo.  I don’t know if it’s the booze or that most people in this film don’t know how to pronounce the fucking name.  Then again, it’s not like they knew how to be consistent with pronunciation during that time period.  It’s not like they had dictionaries, or the Internet, let alone books.  Well ok, maybe the did have books, but fuck if they knew how to read them.

Hah!  A white female James Earl Jones!

white female james earl jones

They stare at each other like they’re about to have an arm wrestling competition.  “You want me to do what?”  “Kill her!”  Fuck that!  I wanna see these chicks arm wrestle each other!

Ohhh, I see.  This one blonde chick (amongst all the other blonde chicks who look so similar I have a hard time telling them apart; and that’s probably the first time I’ve ever said that about a group of people who were white) has a fake metal hand, or something.  Apparently they were so advanced about replacing sliced off hands back then, that they could muster some finger movement while they were worn.

“I raised you as a tool Tashi.  An instrument of vengeance.  I never loved your father.  And I never meant to love you.  But I do.  Are you my daughter or aren’t you?”

Well, that’s a nice inspiring family speech.  18 minutes in and we finally get some character development and some protagonists (kind of) to get attached to.  Plus some motives about wanting to kill a woman who is a part of their tribe for vengeance.  Not sure why she didn’t try this at an earlier time, especially considering it sounds like this mother has been holding this grudge since before her daughter was born (it makes less sense the more I think about it)… You know what, fuck it.  I’m supposed to be drunk enough to not think about this shit.  Hang on, I need to chug a few more shots.

Ok, back to the movie.  Horses.

“It’s time to ride, not talk.”

Oh how I would love that to be a line used in a sexual way.  “Stop talking, start riding me!”  Or, “Stop talking and let me mount and ride you!  Maybe not in that order!”

Huh.  Interesting plot twist that I might care more about if I knew this character (or her daughter) better.  The mother being in league with the evil King Doodoopudu or whatever the fuck his name is.

Whoah!  What the fuck was with the lion montage?  And with lion masks that looked fucking weird on these people?  That came out of the blue.

Oh wait, no it didn’t.  It was supposed to show the lion in his room turning into a human female.  Who is naked.  Alright!  Our first nude scene of the Sword & Sorcery flick!  How long until there’s more?

Jesus Christ!  Apparently the two lead actresses were so jealous of lion lady’s good looks that they decide to not only bare their breasts and asses int he next scene, but to swim in the water too.  Phahahah!  Are they condensing the mandatory female nudity requirement at this point in the movie?  It’s shameless enough to seem so.

And they fight the pervs who were looking in on them and trying to pierce them with their swords.  Oh shit, but the men best them, and strip them, and try to rape them.  And then lion lady saves them, in lion form.  On top of that, we get what will probably be the best moment in the movie when a topless chick kicks the shit out of a perv and kills him (I think, based on that hilarious groan sound he makes).

Why the fuck are these villains so keen on having these protagonists get the sword that can kill them?  Am I the only one who thinks this is fucking ridiculous?  Ah whatever, titties.

Hah!  Ok, this has gotta be it.  The most hilarious part of the movie.  When she’s wrestling with this snake, and overacting in how it’s strangling her.  Pretending that this isn’t a friendly domesticated snake.

Whoop, more tits to show.  And it seems more pointless than last time, and that shouldn’t be possible.

What the fuck!?  What the hell is up with this movie?  Every time some girl flashes her tits there’s pervs in the bushes waiting to ambush them, and then do exactly that?  You’re not supposed to be representing people like me who are watching this movie, let alone showing them getting their asses kicked!

“I will only let someone stand by my side who is strong.  Like you.  And who will let me fondle her tits.”

I made that last sentence up, but seriously, that’s exactly what he does when he says that.  You know, I seriously misjudged this movie.  For the first 20 minutes, I thought the women were going to dress only slightly scantily, and remain that way throughout the rest of the film.  I only thought that because I’ve seen films like that.  I don’t know, maybe I’m too used to seeing modern shit films that frown upon this sort of thing.  Glad to have misjudged this.

Speaking of which, now we get a sex scene.  And not just any kind of sex scene, oh no.  This has got to be the most unique sex scene in the history of film-making.  The main villain antagonists are the ones who have sex with each other.  And we see it in all its softcore porn glory.  Seriously, when the fuck has that ever happened?  When have we ever gotten a movie where we see the villains go at it.  Never!  You know why?  Because it makes me want to root for the antagonists!  You know what that means?  If the protagonists get into a hardcore lesbian sex scene where they scissor each other and moan.  Then again, Roger Corman may have a thing against lesbians.  I doubt it though, considering that weird shower/sparkle/massage scene in Forbidden World (1982).

Alright, after seeing this slave prison cell caravan thing with a topless chick in it, I’m convinced this film is going overboard with the nudity.  Yes, it took me this long to realize this.

Ok, how far am I into this 76 minute movie?  Only 38 minutes?!  Fuck me, I need to ease up on the comments.

Forbidden World

Alright, now I’m getting bored with the tits.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this movie needs to ease up.

Fuck these guys!  I don’t care who they are, or what their reasons.  When they indiscriminately start sacrificing hot topless chicks by knifing them, they become permanent villains in my eyes.  Someone kill these fuckers!

Whoop de doo, a rescue from people who sacrifice hot chicks to a tree.

“With the sword I can conquer even the Where-Ways.”  Yeah, you can conquer wherever.

Hey, 3 minutes have passed without nudity being show.  Guess things are getting interesting again.

If this horse turns into a man, I swear to God, I’m going to start watching spaghetti western flicks again.

The sword of Azandaddy.  Who’s you’re daddy?  Azan is your daddy.

“Three will enter, one will leave.”

Fuck you, and your Mad Max wannabe rip-off dialogue!

I’m bored.  Can we get a lesbian sex scene yet?  Preferably one that involved more than just kissing?

These two women are so desperate to find a sword.  I take it back, we don’t need a lesbian sex scene.  We need one or two guys capable of pleasuring both these women.

“Hell?  Hell will be my greatest conquest.  Then I’ll be in Heaven.”

Ok, I have to admit, that’s a badass line.

You know, a crossing across the rope over a cliff scene isn’t all that tense when you keep showing the river below them.  Because, you know, in 80s flicks like these, water seems to break their fall just fine regardless of height.  You want to give us tension, make it a pit full of spikes or snakes or rapists or something.

The third who will enter is a literal lioness.  At this point, I’d be up for that kind of beastiality.

Friendship.  Didn’t see that coming.  Give me a hug.

What the flying fuck!?  This lioness chick can throw a knife to kill a bitch and then instantly transfer back into a lion before the body hits the floor?  And start a woman vs. lioness wrestling match?

I’m convinced the lioness should’ve kicked this chick’s ass.

No tits being shown over a span of 10 minutes.  It’s like there’s a bell curve with this flick in terms of nudity.  Appropriate.

Morons.  They should’ve been charging the palace/fortress/set/whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be during the first sorcerer lighting bit.

Where-ways again. Or We’re-Ways.  “It’s the only way.”  Balgor, folklore, butt-whore, whatever.

Flashing white light.  We gonna get a dance floor scene?  No?  Then fuck off with that shit.

Hah!   Ghost attack!

I fucking hate getting the fucking hiccups when I’m fucking drunk!  Or at anytime regardless of my state!  Fuck hiccups!

Did she just fucking kill that guy by hitting him with the hilt of her sword while he was behind her on horseback?  That’s stupid.

“You cannot defeat me!  I have the power!” 

Fuck you.  He-Man has the power!

She shouts, “Where are you!?”, and then a horse sticks its ass into the frame.  There’s a joke in there somewhere.

This final fight between the Amazon chick and the evil King Koopahka is kinda lame. Until they resort to this very weird edit trick that’s beyond words of describing.  I would’ve preferred they just sped up everything, but whatever.

I swear, I didn’t mess with the editing at all, again.

And the protagonist decided to try overacting.

I’d like to know about the guy with the mustache.

“Someone is killing my tree!”

Can’t say I’ve heard that line before.

Ok, this final final fight scene is also kinda lame.

What the fuck!?  PHAHAHAHAHAH!  Oh my God!  That’s got to be one of the most hilarious death scenes in my life.  The bitch villain accidentally kills herself by chopping down a tree which then falls onto her.  You can’t make this shit up.

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????!?!!?!!?????????????!!!!!!!!!!?????

This bitch that died in the cave came back to life?  Alright, fuck this movie and the assholes who decided to give it a happy ending.  Especially when they did that without having the decency to give us a lesbian sex scene.  You know what?  Just because of that shit, I’ve decided how I’m going to score this movie.

Rated: 1 / 5

Fuck this movie and it’s contrived happy ending.  I don’t care how much tit service it decided to give, among all the other so-bad-it’s-good shit.  That ending pissed me off!

00244

Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun (2016) review

shadow tactics

Rated: 3.5 / 5

I question how much I actually enjoy stealth games.  Aside from Thief I and II, I don’t normally go out of my way to play these sorts of games.  On the other hand, certain RPGs like Deus Ex, while not primarily a stealth game yet can be played as one, do end up causing me to take the stealth-tactic route.  Mainly because it seemed more logical to me to not try and be a one-man army, since games like those try to have a sense of realism.  Plus they subtly encourage you to try more pacifist tactics, lest you risk causing hostages to be butchered or something.  I don’t know, maybe it’s because of some subliminal shit that causes me to take the stealth approach in those games.  Or because I’m not that great of a shot (at least compared to online players), so I just play like a pussy.  But since this game was getting rave reviews, I thought I’d try it out.  And overall, it’s not too bad.

There are 13 missions in the game, each one getting progressively longer, complex, and challenging.  First mission is a great intro to the game system, the 2nd mission is a decent progression.  But from the 3rd mission and onwards, it doesn’t pull any punches with the difficulty.  You have to learn the capabilities of the characters inside and out, just as you’ll need to learn to utilize the controls for quick maneuvers to get the timing right, plus to utilize the ability to see the line of sight of specific soldiers/samurai/civilians.  Shadow mode for simultaneous character actions, each of their special abilities, knowing when to move by quickly, or crouch and move; when you should kill someone, when you should just try to avoid them, etc.

In other words, I strongly recommend using a controller for this one, rather than a mouse and keyboard.  This game seems more designed for control pads.

If it wasn’t obvious, this takes place in medieval Japan, during a time when the way of the samurai was ending.  So of course there’s going to be some challenge to their traditional ways, especially with the questions asked to or about the Mugen character (one of the five party members you’ll have through much of the game).  And, of course, they have to throw in a bit of women power (mainly with this one character who can disguise herself to blend in with the enemy), but they thankfully don’t go overboard with it.  It’s the same kind of thing you get with the film The Last Samurai, except the war-mongering samurai are given a more antagonistic light this time around.  Two significant events happen in the game to thematically represent this way of life coming to an end, signified by two major characters having their lives ended.

Theme aside, the game controls fine for the most part.  I found myself frustrated at points for not being able to pull off these plans I had in mind to get through a section, but that’s mostly on me.  Overestimating the capabilities of my characters, underestimating the number of enemies and their patrol routes (I needed to learn more patience, even if the whole thing seems like trial and error), and just getting angry knowing that, in hindsight, there was a better way to go about completing a portion of a level (if not the entire thing).  However, there were a few times where the NPC movement seemed glitched, with one or two guys being stuck together or to some object on the map and being unable to move.  This was rare, and I think it only happened at 3 points throughout the entire game, but it was noticeable when it did.  Nothing game-breaking, thankfully.

There are some caveats though, which I noticed during the last 3 missions.  Sometimes there’s a portion of the map that juts out just enough to stop you in your tracks unless you go around.  I’m not talking about a section of a cart or something, I’m talking about one or two fucking pebbles that your character should be able to just fucking walk/run across, but can’t, so you have to learn to go around these things and not hug the walls too much or else you’ll get stuck and then get caught by the asshole NPC you thought you were about to avoid until that shit happened.  So, you know, little frustrations like that, which again aren’t game-breaking, just irritating.

After the first 2 levels, I’d say each stage took me roughly 2 hours each to beat (on Hardcore difficulty mind you, I’m not that much of a pussy to settle for normal mode, especially when it felt like the game was pulling it’s punches, let alone beginner mode).  Which gives this game a playing time of roughly 25 hours.  A solid enough length for a game of this type.

And even after you finish a level, you can replay it again to complete challenges (of which there are 9 per level).  If you beat a level on hardcore mode, there’s a chance you will have completed at least 2 of the 9 challenges on a first try.  For the first level, I completed 8 of the 9 challenges (including a speed-run of beating the level in under 11 minutes).  I enjoyed them, at first.  But then I came to realize some of these challenges are just downright stupid.  For instance, one of the challenges in the first level is not to kill anyone.  You can knock them out, but they’ll come-to after about 40-60 seconds (I never timed it).  And it seems impossible to get through a level only by knocking people out.  But then I figured out the trick.  Knock someone out, dump their body in a well (I think there’s only 2, at most, in this level), rinse and repeat for everyone else in the way.  But this gets really fucking tedious when you realize there’s only 1 well that you can use for this purpose for a good portion of the level, so you’ll be knocking guys out, carrying their fatasses for up to a minute at a time trying to get back to this cocksucking well, dumping them, and doing it again and again, having to travel further and further distances while doing this.  When a challenge gets that tedious, I tend to stop giving a shit about them.  Seriously, don’t worry about the challenges, at all, during your first playthrough.  Don’t go back to those missions and repeat them just to do those challenges until you’ve completed the game.  These challenges have the potential to increase the amount of times it takes to complete a mission exponentially, sometimes for ridiculous reasons.

Or so I thought.  But then it turns out there was a way to do this quickly without needing to KO all that many people.  This hot shit Korean gamer (you fuckers and your god-mode Starcraft skills) makes me look bad:

So it’s watching this video that made me realize I’m nowhere near close to being a master at these types of games.  I may be capable of beating them, but I’m not capable of being great at them, at least not on my own without looking up how someone else “did it.”  This is one of those games that every stealth game ultimately ends being in a glorified sense: a puzzle game.  It’s not just about figuring out a way to progress though a stage, it’s also about figuring out the best most efficient way to do it.  And I will admit, I am not the best at figuring out that stuff on my own.  It infuriates me, but that’s on me, the game isn’t to be faulted for that.  You hearing me you asshole game journalists who bitched about the difficulty in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice!?

But anyway, if stealth games like these seem right up your alley, I say go for it.  It seems like one of the better ones released in recent years that I’ve learned about.

 

bq-5cbe1b02b3a88

Chernobyl (2019) miniseries review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

“We live in a time where people seem to be re-embracing the corrosive notion that what we want to be true is more important than what is true.” 

— Craig Mazin, the writer and creator of Chernobyl

This is what it took to claw my attention away from a board game I’m designing.  After being convinced to give it a watch by The Critical Drinker from cocksucking YouTube (and I will continue to use some derogative adjective, even a half-assed one that might not even be considered an adjective, to describe that site until things change or until it burns to the ground to pave way for better sites like BitChute or DailyMotion or something), I gave it a watch.  I can recommend it, but with some serious caveats.  Hey, if they want to make something based on a true story, they’re going to eat a serious shit sandwich from me, and approved by Jill Valentine, for anything not historically accurate about it that ticked me off.  Especially from an event as big and serious as this, which had the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise spawn from it, both the film and the game series, let alone Metro 2033.

Continue reading

John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019) review

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Rated: 4 / 5

So I’m sitting in the theater, and watching all the trailer for the upcoming films this year.  And I felt nothing.  Felt no anger at all the PC feminist SJW NPC moments in practically all upcoming films.  I’m burned out from being angry.  I’m just bored with it all.  I’m just waiting for it to end.  And if it doesn’t end, that’s fine by me, ’cause I’ll just find something else to do.  Like trying to find employment somewhere where I’m not going to get circle-jerked everywhere between cities and states.  Or maybe even try writing a fucking fantasy book again.  Dare I try making a video again?  Not today with the latter (just to squish any of your hopes).

Before you all get up in arms and put a contract out on me, you should be warned that spoilers will follow.

Honestly, there are only two films coming out this year that I have any semblance of interest in seeing.  One is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but each new trailer I see of that movie crushes my hopes a little more.  It looks like it’s pushing the same bullshit diversity message that I’m sick of seeing, to the point where it’s going to knock the enjoyment factor down a couple notches (these talentless hacks have spread far and wide enough to fuck up Star Wars and Game of Thrones, I should’ve figured Godzilla would be next on the chopping block; next sequel will probably have him kill some white nationalists and some albino monster or something).  The other is Joker.  After all, life isn’t a tragedy.  It’s a comedy.  Sometimes I just have to look back at everything and laugh.

John Wick hasn’t succumbed enough to those attacks yet, but I’m sure some pushback is building from this successful franchise.  To make my case, consider what happened near the end of John Wick 2.  He kicked Ruby Rose’s mute ass so hard, she got pissed at him and men in general.  Pissed enough to regain the gift of speech, start trashing on men, get hooked up with a black lesbian lover, and steal Batman’s persona (along with a black butler pretending to be related to Alfred), dress up as Batman while calling herself Batm’am, try acting more “handsome” masculine and manly (penis envy), and start kicking dude’s asses while trash-talking men in the process.  John Wick is sending some serious shockwaves (as Atomic Blonde will attest).  But that’s one of the main themes this film is carrying: consequences.  He’s not the only one feeling them.

I was expecting this film to be the conclusion to the franchise.  Up until this point, I’ve been hearing, “trilogy,” and some talk of how the 2nd film ended on a cliffhanger because the writers didn’t think they could condense the story they had in mind into a single film.  Well apparently, that story didn’t involve wrapping things up in a satisfying manner.  So, yeah, this film ends wide open for a sequel.  Not quite as cliffhanger-heavy as the 2nd film, but definitely not as conclusive as the first.

Women say men are bad because they’re dogs, yet women love dogs.  Have a biscuit you bad boys!

That disappointed me a tad, but that was simply due to my expectations (I don’t have much of a problem with those kinds of expectations being subverted; you listening Rian Johnson and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, you fucking hacks!).  But I got over it quickly, because this film is expectedly awesome.  I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the best John Wick film to date.  The first film was an unexpected solid surprise introducing us to gun-judo-fu (it was Equilibrium that introduced us to actual gun-fu, John Wick just threw in the judo aspect, and ultimately does it all better than Equilibrium).  The 2nd film was a solid follow-up, but the gun-fu started to get monotonous.  This film mixes things up with a pleasant mixture of gun-fu, judo, martial arts fights, various non-gun weapons, motorcycles, horses, dogs, and iron chefs.  Seriously, Keanu Reeves actually fight Mark Dacascos, and that is something I never thought I would ever want to see, let alone ever think it would happen.  But it does happen, and it’s fun as fuck.  And Dacascos is practically winking at the audience at various points in the movie letting them know he also thinks it’s fun as fuck.  That would probably be the best martial arts and blade fight in the film if not for the fight that precedes it, where Reeves goes against those two guys from The Raid films (it’s not Iko Uwais).  Goddamn if I wasn’t having a fun fucking time with this thing!  I recommend this highly over Triple Threat (what a disappointment that ended up being; it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t “great,” and any self-respecting martial arts film with the cast that film had needed to be “great” at the very least).

I won’t spoil all the action stuff that’s in this film, but I will say the only moment where the action felt like it was dragging too much was this sequence where Reeves and Berry and the dogs were going on a killing spree.  That sequence lasted too long.  Mainly because they wanted to prove Berry was capable of kicking ass in something outside of Catwoman (huh, maybe that’s also why she’s a dog person in this film, plus this joke metaphor acting as a callback to the first film).  Goes on a minute or two longer than it should have.

So I guess my worries about this franchise running out of steam were unfounded.  Plus I was pleasantly surprised to gain insight into John Wick’s origins at one point in this film.  Seems like each film manages to not only build upon the lore, opening up this assassin world even more, but also showing more about John Wick himself.

Still, as far as action sequences are concerned, I am starting to get a tad bit irritated at seeing these faceless bad guys running into the open and becoming easy targets, hesitating a bit too long during some of the close-quarters-combat sequences, etc.  You know, the kinds of irritations we’re not supposed to have when watching any shoot-em-up and martial arts flick where one or two protagonists go up against multiple opponents at the same time.

Plus the plot and situations get more fantastical than in the previous film, and that’s saying a lot.  A part of me started to hope it would get ridiculous enough to where the Iron Chef’s cat would face off against John Wick’s dog.  Honestly, wouldn’t that be great?  Maybe in the next Dog Wick parody they come up with (please oh please make a sequel to that, I’m begging you; come on, people loved it enough to where they included it as a special feature of the blu-ray release of the 2nd film).  Considering how the 2nd film ended along the lines of, “Everyone is an assassin,” at that point my level of disbelief went to, “This does not take place in the same dimension we’re living in.”  You either go along with it or you don’t.

Go see it.  It’s likely the best action film we’re going to get all year.

Europa: The Last Battle (2017) review

So today is April 20th.  A day of infamy.  Where everyone is encouraged to roll a joint and smoke it; bake a batch of edibles and eat ’em.  It’s international pot day!  It’s a day to celebrate!

It’s also Hitler’s birthday.  The man who has been considered the most vile, racist, fascist, inhumane villain ever known to man (some would consider him worse than Stalin).  The man who founded the Nazis.  The man responsible for the Holocaust.  The man responsible for attempting to take over Europe.  The man responsible for making plans for Nazis to set up a base on the moon and eventually take over the world.  Well ok, that last bit might be a bit over the top.

Actually, there are those who say that virtually everything in the previous paragraph is over the top, minus the birthday.  That he wasn’t as villainous as many were and are taught.  That there wasn’t really a Holocaust.  That he wasn’t planning on taking over Europe, then the world, then the moon.  How much of that is true and how much of it isn’t?  Well, a documentary certainly aims to tell as much.

 

Rated: 4 / 5

Understand that any film we credit with changing the world is a distraction. Films don’t change the world. They react to changes in the world.

Sally Jane Black

I disagree with the above quote.  Because it’s been proven that propaganda can sway minds and thus influence a change in a community, in a nation, and in the world.  And they don’t necessarily react to changes either, they can cause these changes.  Many wouldn’t disagree that The Birth of a Nation (1915) made some changes in the United States, breathing new life into the Ku Klux Klan, which stuck around decades afterwards before dissipating again (except in the movies where they are bashed, which seems to happen roughly once a year).  But an even bigger reason to disagree with it is because those who have owned all the major film studios since that very era have pretty much all been Jews.  That in of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since we all like a good movie.  But we do certainly see their influence throughout history.  Same thing with documentaries like Blackfish which affected Seaworld.  Or Super Size Me, which impacted McDonalds.

For instance, the first major film to be released with actual audio (as in you hear what people say or sing) is The Jazz Singer (1927).  In the film, a man who has been rejected by his father because of what he sings, eventually decides to use his voice at a Jewish event to help lift his father’s spirits; so that his father doesn’t die from some bout of depression or something.

And…

Eh, I just don’t have the willpower to type up anything fancy, so I’ll just say what this documentary is.  It’s a long 10+ hour documentary divided into 10 parts (sort of).  It’s not professionally made.  It’a basically a glorified youtuber documentary.  Well that’s not entirely accurate considering YouTube won’t allow this documentary on their site.  But hey, there’s always BitChute (thank God for alternative platforms).  Mostly made by 1 guy by the looks of things.  But he certainly did pool his information from an assload of sources.  Various books, film, podcasts, documentaries, etc.  All of which are listed at the end of the last episode.  The episode lengths vary from 35 minutes to 2 hours (though only episodes 8 and 9 go that long).

And is the documentary overlong?  Kind of.  There are 2 episodes, maybe 3, that could’ve used some trimming.  Here’s basically what the documentary does that bugged me with some of these excessive sequences.  It talks about some event that caused a lot of pain and suffering to a lot of people, and then spends no less than 10 minutes (maybe even 30) showing interviews with these “survivors” who talk about the event(s) and cry about it.  Because this documentary really wants to hit you over the head with that sadness.  In all fairness, these are sad moments.  But they could’ve been condensed.  The point had already been made.  This doesn’t happen regularly, so in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t ruin the whole documentary.  But the second half of the first episode is basically like this, and it can be off-putting to some who would even dare try to watch this thing in the first place.  But stick with it.  You’ll want to at least make it through episode 8 to get the brunt of the impact of this documentary.

And what is this documentary?  Well, for the most part, it basically tells the story of World War II from a perspective you are guaranteed not to have been taught in any school or any university.  But it does more than that, it also covers the Bolshevik Revolution (and how that started and who started it), it covers World War I, it covers the Holocaust, and it then basically jumps ahead to some modern day messages about the current state of things (most of which is basically repetition to those who have been taking a good look at the state of the world through sources that aren’t considered mainstream).  But the main thing it does is state who was behind much of these catastrophic events and world wars.  The Jews, who wanted to establish the dreaded “New World Order,” along with an Ethnostate run by Jews and only occupied by Jews (Israel) to eventually, long term, control the world under a world Communist government.

Yeah, I know, I know, antisemitism, racism, fascism, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it all before, and you’ve heard it all before.  But you likely haven’t heard much of what is in the documentary before.  And it’s worth watching for that alternative perspective.  Because this perspective fills in some gaps that I’ve wondered about ever since learning about these events in school.  Plus it provides a very compelling case that much of what we have been told has been a lie, and provides alternative (or additional) facts that are very much worth pondering.

It’s best if I break it down episode by episode.

“First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”

Episode 1: Primarily states that Jews were the ones that founded these major banks that have their tentacles in everything today, and have always been controlled by Jews.  Just to name one example: the Rothchilds.  The same organization stated to have created the Federal Reserve, which the U.S. has based its currency on ever since Woodrow Wilson allowed that to be in the 1910s.  In addition, it states that the people who organized, led, and funded the Bolshevik Revolution were Jews.  Because the Jews also founded Communism (and yes, Karl Marx was Jewish too).  Thus when Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks into taking over Russia, they turned Russia from Christian to Communist.

Episode 2: Basically talks about how it was those elitist Jews that started World War I in order to get a further grip on Europe (particularly Germany), and spread Communism.  And how the Treaty of Versailles made Germany lose parts of its country, and pay an insane amount of financial reparations for the war.  During post WWI, Germany was in dire straight, where everyone was in poverty and suffered, and how their society became corrupted with, well, similar stuff that many say is corrupting the U.S. today.  Either way you look at it, the Germans were suffering.

Episode 3: Hitler’s rise to power, how he eventually managed to overthrow the current rulers of Germany, kick out the elitist Jews that were running the financial system (basically the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Reserve), and establish a Nationalist-Socialist form of government with its own independent financial system that brought Germany out of poverty and reparation payments.  And transformed Germany into an economic powerhouse.  Even those who believe Hitler was an evil son of a bitch have to admit that this achievement was nothing short of incredible, transforming the nation from one hopelessly in debt to being the most efficient and powerful economy in the world next to the United States in less than a decade.  And then the episode goes on about how it was the best of times, that it was the ideal place to live in, blah blah blah.

Episode 4-5: Well, the Jews weren’t going to stand for this.  They did allegedly want world control after all.  So they can’t have a strong independent nation that doesn’t base their currency on elitist Jew controlled world banks now could they?  So they use their communist influence (as they had communist infiltrators within just about every country, including the U.S.; something Andrew McCarthy tried to fight post-WWII) to get other countries to go to war with Germany.  Starting with Poland, then France and the U.K., and eventually Russia (though Hitler managed to get Stalinist Russia to maintain a peace pact between them for a while before Russia eventually decided to turn on Germany).  And it portrays Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill as major assholes who were influenced by elitist Jews.  As for the Jews in Germany, Hitler did propose a “Final Solution,” but it wasn’t to exterminate the Jews.  Rather, it was to relocate them to Madagascar.  That plan fell through for various reasons.  The documentary also points out how other nations (ie Axis powers) were so inspired by Germany’s sense of nationalism that they were willing to fight for Germany’s cause against the Allies.  What is especially interesting is that there were Jews in Hitler’s army, fighting for his cause, intentionally.  One of the reasons why the documentary points out that it is important to distinguish the elitist Jews from the regular Jews (who may or may not have supported the elitist cause, or even be Communist).

Episode 6: Part of the insurance for winning the war was to eventually get the U.S. involved.  While Roosevelt did want to go along with that plan, America wasn’t exactly pro-war at the time, despite some communist propaganda and front groups (elements of this are backed by a novel I read a portion of titled Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, by M. Stanton Evans).  But then came Pearl Harbor, which was apparently arranged by elitist/communist Jews who had political connections to influence the leaders.  Once that attack took place, that caused American sentiment to turn from anti-war to pro-war.  So they went to war with Japan and Germany (and Italy).  This was the nail in the coffin for Germany, as they had no hope of winning after failing to take the capital of Russia during their initial attack and push (which happened as a result of Hitler learning that Russia was planning on breaking the pact and secretly attacking Germany).  And it was even worse off for Germany once they lost the Battle of the Bulge.  And the Allies firebombed the ever-loving hell out Germany, indiscriminately hitting both the military and civilian population.

Episode 7: Apparently, there was a more effective way to enter Germany and get to the capital city of Berlin besides what the Allies actually did with D-Day.  But they intentionally took the long and hard way through.  Why?  So that Russia could have more time to push westward and be the first to take Germany’s capital.  Why let the Russians get there first?  So they could massacre the population.  The Russians were more brutal than the Germans, and I think even mainstream sources would be willing to admit this.  It was arranged that Russia would rape and pillage and kill their way towards Germany’s capital, where they would continue to do the same.  This frustrated certain military commanders, such as Patton who wondered why they weren’t driving into Germany more efficiently, and why they were receiving orders to halt on occasion.

And then came the post-war.  Even the mainstream narrative can’t disagree with this aspect.  Post-war, the allies treated the Germans in such an inhumane and deplorable manner it baffles the mind.  While it is alleged the Germans killed six million Jews during the Holocaust (something the next episode would address), the Allies caused the death of roughly 9 million Germans during a 6 year period after the war (outnumbering the number of Germans killed during the war).  Via slave labor camps (ie gulags, death camps, some of which were Eisenhower camps) among other reasons.  It was at this point that I thought this was pure incomprehensible insanity; that made me feel ashamed.  And these motherfuckers had the balls to use the piles of German bodies from these camps as historical photos claiming them to be a part of the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

In order to help rebuild Germany, there was a forced deportation of Germans from the U.S. (among other countries) to Germany that totaled between 11-12 million.  To help rebuild.

Are you a man of peace
Or a man of holy war
Too many sides to you
Don’t know which anymore
So many full of life
But also filled with pain
Don’t know just how many
Will live to breathe again

A life that’s made to breathe
Destruction or defense
A mind that’s vain corruption
Bad or good intent
A wolf in sheep’s clothing
Or saintly or sinner
Or some that would believe
A holy war winner

They fire off many shots
And many parting blows
Their actions beyond a reasoning
Only God would know
And as he lies in heaven
Or it could be in hell
I feel he’s somewhere here
Or looking from below
But I don’t know, I don’t know

More pain and misery in the history of mankind
Sometimes it seems more like
The blind leading the blind
It brings upon us more famine, death and war
You know religion has a lot to answer for

And as they search to find the bodies in the sand
They find it’s ashes that are
Scattered across the land
And as the spirits seem to whistle on the wind
A shot is fired somewhere another war begins

And all because of it you’d think
That we would learn
But still the body count the city fires burn
Somewhere there’s someone dying
In a foreign land
Meanwhile the world is crying stupidity of man
Tell me why, tell me why

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

For the greater good of God

— Iron Maiden, For The Greater Good of God

 

Episode 8: And this was the episode that dealt with the Holocaust itself.  It’s one of those episodes you need to see for yourself to get a real grasp of it.  But in general, it basically states that the Holocaust was a lie.  That the “6 million” number was invented long before WWII, that this sacred number can be found in the Jewish book The Talmud itself.  And it was used as propaganda to claim that the Germans were killing that many Jews in Germany even before the Allies could enter that country to confirm this.  As for the “concentration camps,” if you could call them that, there were no gas chambers.  There were shower rooms, and mini-gas chambers used to disinfect clothing, as there tended to be a buildup of lice and diseases if there wasn’t some form of disinfectant (they often sprayed insect-killer on the jews in the camps).  The prisoners were not treated all that harshly.  And the reason many of them were put in these camps in the first place because 98% of them were communists or communist sympathizers (because the elitist Jews were all about control through Communism).  Any serious investigation of these camps proves that there weren’t any gas chambers or mass graves or anything like that.  However, there were plenty of deaths near the end of the war.  Because the Allied bombing runs eventually hit German supply routes, leaving the camps unable to gain supplies, causing many of the prisoners to starve to death, and for the German troops charged with running the camps to abandon them.  There’s more to it than that, but there’s no real way to explain it all in an adequate fashion without reading a book dedicated to it (virtually all of which have been banned from Amazon and any major retailers), or watching some documentary telling it from this perspective (like this one).

Episode 9-10: Basically epilogue episodes that go on for too long, discussing the present day situation and what the elitist Jews that run the major banks, the United Nations, the European Union, and Israel.  How they want globalism, 3rd wave feminism, inclusion, diversity, mass-migration, destruction of culture, etc.  Everywhere except in Israel (or China for that matter, so far).  Their plans for expanding the size of Israel westward towards Egypt.  And the slow awakening of nationalism in various parts of the world as a backlash against these globalist policies.

bq-5c97e923261db

So, yeah.  This documentary has some heavy stuff.  Stuff that is usually dismissed as “revisionist history,” racist nonsense, pro-fascist.  Dismissed without even giving it a thought.  In Europe, it’s illegal to even question the legitimacy of the Holocaust, which makes me even more suspicious of it and more willing to believe the stuff in this documentary.  And the way it’s presented, it’s very very convincing.

However…

… there are some problems here with it.  You have to take into account that every documentary tends to have some element of bias.  And the bias of this documentary tends to overlook that Germany was nationalist to a fault at some points.  For example, the White Rose movement.  How the people (primarily German school students) in that anti-war movement were prosecuted and killed in Germany for spreading anti-war propaganda.  And I doubt that’s the only instance of a German atrocity committed (though I’m willing to listen to those who wish to debunk that, or other alleged atrocities, like how this documentary debunked the Diary of Anne Frank, and the Holocaust).  I’m always suspicious of anything that tries to portray some individual, or some party, some nation, etc., under an angelic light.  And that’s what I was getting with episode 3 primarily.  It was so in love with Hitler and what he did with Germany I’m pretty sure the guy who made the documentary wanted to suck Hitler’s cock.  There’s no such thing as a perfect nation.

bq-5bf9ecbca2965

That being said, I don’t find it far-fetched that Hitler and the Nazis were villianized beyond how they were in reality.  Especially considering where much of the information we gained regarding the Holocaust came from.  Especially considering that, if this New World Order run by elitist communist Jews is to be believed, the Jews own or control roughly 98% of all television networks, major movie studios, major news networks, and major newspapers.  Especially considering how questioning some aspects of this established history is a crime in Europe.  Especially considering how Europe has now passed laws that are going to make a stranglehold on the Internet, censoring sites for “hate speech” among other things (the definition of which is whatever the elites feel like making it).  I mean, just the number of anti-Nazi films that come out on a yearly basis seems to indicate they really want to keep anti-nazi sentiment fresh in everyone’s minds very very badly; even going so far as to promote the idea that “it’s ok to punch a nazi.”  All so that no one will take inspiration for how successful Germany became on an economic and cultural level because of their national-socialist policies (even the word “Nazi” was a slang term created to insult that party).

D1xjqHpWwAAC6yd.jpg large

If even half of the stuff this documentary teaches is true, and it certainly seems like most of it is, then it is a must watch just for the sake of hearing the other side of the story.  To gain another perspective.  To grasp the bigger picture of history.  Or at the very least be familiar with the arguments “revisionists” have.  This is not only a recommended watch, it’s a necessary one.

xlarge

Though that being said, there are portions of episodes 1, 3, and 9 that you’ll probably find yourself skipping through (there’s a portion of each of those episodes where the information gets monotonous).

“You watch those nature documentaries on the cable?  You see the one about lions? Look at this lion. He’s the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying down under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big, he’s so hot. He doesn’t want to move.

“Now the little lion cubs, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn’t do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still: nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. And they start to move in. The jackals; hyenas.

“They’re barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that’s in his domain. They do this, and they get closer and closer, and bolder and bolder. ‘Til one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. ‘Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals who he is.”

Shazam! (2019) and Venom (2018) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people […] ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.  I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards.  I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice.  And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone […] who showed the slightest mercy to it in others.  There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.  And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.  […]  Pride leads to every other vice

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

First of all, I’m going to say that if it wasn’t for Venom, I wouldn’t have even given Shazam (not including the exclamation point symbol) a chance.  And I’ll get to that later.

Other than that, I was also encouraged to see this movie by other reviewers like appabend who said this was the best DC movie yet (post-Nolan Batman trilogy).  This film was getting several positive reviews.  I have to say, I was skeptical, especially after seeing the trailer without even cracking a smirk.  However, considering I’ve been misled by trailers in the past which made a film look mediocre when it ended up being more than that (the main example that comes to mind is How to Train Your Dragon), and since another film managed to get my hopes up regarding superhero flicks (at least those outside of Disney+Marvel), I decided to give it a shot.

Well, the opening act certainly managed to get me interested.  We see a kid, who is somewhat mistreated by his father and older brother, be rejected due to his inability to resist temptation when it comes to power.  And he understandably throws a bit of a fit over this (he is just a little kid after all), and this inadvertently leads to an accident that cripples his father (who didn’t think much of him in the first place).  It was a great emotionally investing moment, making me interested in seeing what would happen to the kid next.

Video Exclusive Sneak Peak Shazam Rilis – Dafunda.com

Turns out that the film pulled a fast one on me.  This kid wouldn’t be the lead protagonist.  Rather, it’s the next less interesting incident involving a little kid; and this would end up being our lead protagonist.  A kid who wants to find his mother after losing track of her at a fairground.  And that ends up being his motivation for most of the film, to try and find his mother after losing track of her at a fairground, not once getting some common sense knocked into his head over those years that she just didn’t want him.  Maybe she got dissuaded from aborting him after seeing Unplanned or something.  Seriously, I was more interested in the first kid, wondering what was happening with him during this time.  But, of course, it ends up being the kid with the more bland backstory (by comparison anyway) who winds up becoming the Shazam superhero.

Despite that, the film still managed to hold my interest.  With the new foster home and parents filled with foster kids which exist purely to mark off “diversity” on the “How to Make an Inclusive PC Movie” checklist.  The rise of the supervillain played by that one British actor who plays a villain in everything except Kingsman (Mark Strong).  The discovering of the superpowers, what he’s capable of, how to use them, “great power great responsibility,” etc.  It was all done well enough albeit not spectacularly.

The film was fine up until the finale.  With the big epic fight.  There’s an awful lot of running around and pussying out until the last moment.  Even when the action does get going, it all goes on for far too long.  I was getting bored and just waiting for this damn thing to end.  The film-makers just don’t realize that, unless you’re doing an extended action finale with practical effects in a live action movie, or at least have some great martial artists doing something along the lines of The Raid 2, or Ip Man, it’s just not going to be all that interesting.  That is, unless the action/fight sequences serve as a way to further the plot and characters.  And in all fairness, the finale does do that; and it does take place conveniently at a carnival to thematically fit in with the kid losing his mother (ie family) at the carnival in the past, and discovers a new family at a similar place in the present.  But the finale is still largely just filler special effects (like, at least 60% of the time, and that’s being generous).  It needed some serious trimming.

Like how the kid on the left could trim a few pounds.

It could’ve worked too.  They could’ve made that finale interesting.  The potential there was so obvious I’m convinced they opted to drop it for the sake of throwing in some anti-Santa Clause jokes (probably because they didn’t want this movie associated with Christmas in the same way Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are; which is fine by me, because both those movies are better-made than this).  There are these monsters that represent the 7 deadly sins (wrath, gluttony, envy, greed, lust, sloth, and pride [arguably the deadliest of all]).  Why weren’t these 7 given time to showcase their distinct personalities?  I don’t mean they needed character development or anything.  We didn’t necessarily need to know their backstory or where they come from.  But it would’ve been nice if they were more than just CG monsters running around trying to kill people.  There’s nothing about them that makes them live up to their names.  We don’t ever see Gluttony tempting the fat kid with a donut or something.  We don’t ever see Lust turn into some hot chick and try to seduce one of them like a pedophile (the sex of the kid doesn’t matter, even girls these days want to get laid by hot chicks); or at least offer to get one of the kids to grow a pair of tits (chubby kid and the 17 year old college-bound girl don’t count, they both already have titties).  We don’t see Wrath offer the superhero nerd power to impose his wrath on those who bullied him.  We don’t see Greed offer wealth to any of these poor kids who could always use some spare change to purchase a couple material items.  Hell, we don’t even have Sloth offer the protagonist sleeping pills or something.  As for Pride, Jesus Christ, that one should be so fucking easy it’s not even worth giving an example (my review is better than yours; now humiliate yourself!).  The best we get is the protagonist using Envy’s weakness to his advantage for one moment, and that’s about it.

Utilizing those characteristics could’ve easily justified a lengthy finale.  But we don’t get that.  Which reminds me, that’s also a problem I ended up having with the main villain.  We don’t see much of an internal struggle within him.  How the temptation from all these vices plays upon his personality and incidents from his past to make him into an evil man with no possibility of redemption.  That arc pretty much ends with him taking care of his family issues permanently, and that’s it.  He’s never haunted by his actions, or presented with the possibility of questioning/mourning his actions by the protagonist(s).  So the last act ends up being weak, because it’s not strong enough on its own without those elements to justify the extra runtime.

 

Kazaam!

As for the theme of the film, it’s more about what one does when they are rejected by their original family, and what they do to settle with a new one.  Family can go beyond bloodlines in some cases.  It’s a decent enough theme, but it would’ve been nice if there was more bluntness with the contrast between the protagonist and the villain to highlight that aspect.  For some more emotional ‘oomph.’  The best extended action sequence in the film is the first encounter between the villain and hero.  Especially because it actually got me to laugh, particularly with the reference to Big.  I was also laughing because of how deadpan Mark Strong’s delivery was this entire time.  Despite how ridiculous all this was, with teddy bears being thrown at him, and running on the piano, he never dropped that dead-serious stare.  I would love to know if he broke down laughing between takes.

All-in-all, the film is worth a watch, I guess.  If you have nothing better to do.  It didn’t work for me mainly due to a weak finale, and a number of minor irritations that built up over time that eventually got to me.  Lost more faith in the possibility of the superhero genre working for me once again.  Though now that I think about it, I was never all that into it to begin with.  Only a few of these films ever worked for me.  Like Captain America: Winter Soldier, a couple of the X-Men films, the 2nd Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, and…

I’m a black man, and this message is A-ok.  Supremacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rated: 3.5 / 5

Hence to say I didn’t see this one in theaters, something I now regret.  I had lost interest in superhero flicks at this point.  The trailer did intrigue me.  But then there was the news that this was going to be an R-rated release, then they chickened out and made it PG-13.  To quote Venom himself, “Pussy.”  So I passed on it.  But then I started hearing some good things about it, along with mixed messages regarding how good or bad it was.  Not enough to get me into the cinemas.  But it eventually made its way onto television.  Plus I have a fellow board gamer who highly recommended it (whose taste in films and shows I question most of the time).  Eventually, I gave in to my curiosity.

Tom Hardy Trailer GIF by Venom Movie

And surprise, this film ended up being pretty damn fun and more entertaining than I was expecting.  Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t perfect.  It’s got plenty of plot holes in it, with questionable containment issues, the lack of a fallout from law enforcement once everyone went back to a regular life (mostly).  Stuff like that.  But the rest of the film compensated for all that.

We have ourselves an honest-to-God multidimensional character with strengths and faults.  He had a decent job that he loved doing, a good fiance, and enough finances to keep his life stable.  Then he winds up making a dick move and takes classified information behind his fiance’s back, for the sake of getting dirt on this corporate jerk.  Well, the rich corporate jerk hits back, gets him fired, and his fiance leaves him once she learns he went behind her back like that.  A combination of mistakes he made, and of powerful corrupted corporate overlords flexing their muscles.  A real flawed protagonist, who isn’t exactly virtuous, but not a complete wimp either.  Just a regular guy with regular flaws who succumbs to irregular temptations, who has pros and cons to his character.  It was refreshing to see a protagonist who wasn’t a complete wimp who needed superpowers to be somebody (like Captain America, or Kick-Ass).  It was also refreshing to see someone who wasn’t (nor becomes) a Gary Stu or Mary Sue, like Captain Marvel or Rey.

Just that aspect alone made me hold some appreciation for this film (though it does try to pull a climate change and overpopulation message in a half-assed manner).  And once Tom Hardy gets the symbiote transferred to him, he does become considerably stronger, but not unstoppable.  Unlike most of the other superheroes who practically have no weaknesses (or at least none that are easily exploited), this anti-hero actually has a couple.  High-frequency sound waves, and fire.  It’s perfectly possible for mere mortals to take him down if they come with the right resources and a solid game plan.  And these are the types of things I want to see in superhero/super-anti-hero/supervillain flicks.  I don’t want someone who’s unbeatable unless pitted against someone/something else that’s also unbeatable.  I don’t want a film where they can absorb X amount of damage before succumbing to injury/death (where ‘X’ = whatever the fuck the screenwriters decide).  I want guys/gals who are more than capable of facing a legit threat each movie without necessarily tossing in another overpowered alter-ego.

Tom Hardy Sony GIF by Venom Movie

Tom Hardy Fight GIF by Venom Movie

Plus there’s Venom’s attitude.  His dialogue is terrific.  Intentionally laugh-out-loud, and intimidating.  A symbiote that feeds of off the major internal organs of humans (brains, lungs, pancreas, etc.).  How he’ll just spout out something casually in the middle of a conversation like, “Let’s eat his brains.”  I love it!  Moments like that give this film a great comedy element.

Best of all, a clear character arc happens not just with Tom Hardy’s character, but also with the symbiote Venom himself.  Hardy goes from overzealous reporter, to run-down demoralized loser, to terrified man seemingly on the verge of losing his mind, to getting into his powers and gaining a more confident attitude, among other things.  It’s one of those aspects that managed to make this lengthy car chase scene work in the middle of the film.  Normally, I’d bitch about that sequence going for too long.  But there are two elements to it that make the length work, aside from more practical effect work than I was expecting.  1.) To demonstrate some more of the extent of his powers.  2.) Hardy’s character arc that changes from, “Oh my God, I’m going to die!” during the first half of the chase, to “This is awesome!” during the second half.  It fits in with his overall character arc.

Tom Hardy Sony GIF by Venom Movie

I would point out more examples of what I loved about the film, but I’ll save those moments for those who haven’t seen the movie.  But there is another worth pointing out just for the sake of contrast to the Shazam movie.  The final fight.  For starters, it wasn’t as long as that in Shazam.  For another, it also expands upon what the symbiotes are capable of doing, how Venom isn’t the strongest symbiote out there.  But there’s also the bond (metaphorically and literally) that forms between them.  Plus, I have to admit, there’s a moment that looks pretty damn awesome where symbiote is fighting symbiote, and how they all start twisting and mixing together as they clash, while the hosts within are also trading blows with each other.  It’s one of the more unique special effects I’ve seen in a while.

Plus a part of me also loves the idea that this film seems to be taking a jab at that mediocre 2017 film called Life, considering the name of the “evil” corporation is called Life Industries, and the film begins in a manner similar to how Life ended.  Was also a bit surprised to see a Stan Lee cameo in this one (it also tugged at the heartstrings a bit, considering…).

Tom Hardy GIF

All in all, I recommend this film.  It’s the best Superhero flick I’ve seen since Batman v Superman.  Now don’t get me wrong, that movie has problems that are worse than any found in this film (the biggest of which was the huge miscasting choice made to play Lex Luthor).  But at least it is distinct enough to stand out from the other schlock that came out of a conveyor belt, and had decent enough (imperfect) characters with solid motivations.

I’m a white man, and this message is A-ok.  Supremacy!