Thursday, May 31, 2018

Millennial Falcon: Solo Review

We all know of the trouble Disney had during the filming of Solo. From Kathleen Kennedy firing Phil Lord and Chris Miller when filming was nearly done and hiring Ron Howard who reshot 70% of the movie, to actors stories leaking about how weird things were on set and even an acting coach being brought in for Alden Ehrenreich because he could not get the performance they wanted out of him, it seemed like Solo was on its way to disaster.

Box office may say that it has gone down that road, but as far as the movie goes, for me, it is the most fun Star Wars film since the original trilogy.

Solo starts out with our hero living on Corellia living like one of the kids in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Underdwellers". Forced to steal so he has shelter on a shithole planet all while making plans with his girl to get off world. When things don't go as planned and they are separated, Han joins the Imperial military all while making plans to return for her. After his militia stint ends...abruptly and meeting a Wookie named Chewbacca, he finds himself joining a small crews of thieves and he begins his path to becoming the character we know and love.

The strongest thing about Solo is its impressive cast. You have long time pros like Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton that seem to relish the opportunity to be in a Star Wars film, as well as Alden Ehrenreich, who absolutely had me wanting to see him play Han again and Donald Glover. Donald Glover. Donald Glover. When Glover's casting was announced most fans, including me, geeked out because if we can't have Donald Glover as Spider-Man, we will damn sure take him as Lando. The best thing he does with the character is that he is not Donald Glover playing Lando, it is Donald Glover playing Billy Dee Williams playing Lando. I can't overstate how many times I would smirk when he would pronounce Han wrong. Not like Hahn, but like hand without the d. You know, like Billy Dee did in Empire and Return.

Speaking of Empire and Return, Solo peppers in so many tiny nuances and easter eggs it is a joy for Star Wars fans to find them all including one scene that proves the "Han shot first" cut of Star Wars is canon. Sorry Mr. Lucas.

Ron Howard was the absolute right choice to take over directing. Besides the fact he is one of the most accomplished directors in Hollywood history, Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham, he knows how to show off the talents of his cast and keeps the action paced well with the humor and dealing with huge set pieces, both real and CG. I don't envy what he had to do. To come in on a limited schedule with a movie this large and not only finish it on time, but to make it as good as it is, got to respect the hell out of him for that.

Don't let Star Wars fatigue or your thoughts on The Last Jedi affect you going to see Solo. I thought The Last Jedi was a meandering mess and went into Solo with trepidation, but I am glad I did not let my thoughts on one film lead me to miss this. Because I would have missed out on the best Star Wars movie since 1983.

When it comes down to it, Star Wars is supposed to be fun. Sure you can have serious moments in your story, but remember watching them as a kid and how the characters stayed with you and you could watch them again and again for entertainment? When the credits rolled on Solo my first thought was "This was fun. This was Star Wars".

9 Hokey Religions and Ancient Weapons Out of 10

Friday, May 25, 2018

Cable Access: Deadpool 2 Review

Deadpool 2 opens up as you would expect. Wade Wilson is doing his thing being a fourth wall breaking asshole while he kills criminals in the most joyful, bloodiest possible.

Then it goes sad. Like, damn Deadpool isn't supposed to be this sad.

This is followed by an opening credits scene that is like the opening of a James Bond film as Celine Dion's theme plays and you are laughing after kind of being gut punched.

That is what is great about Deadpool 2. It is not just sophomore humor with tons of blood and people saying fuck. There is a ton of that. The movie tows the line with actual character development of the merc with a mouth. Yeah, Deadpool is a fully realized character and actually has layers to him unlike a lot of Marvel Universe heroes. Score one (maybe the only one) for Fox.

As he deals with the depression of wanting to die, but not being able to, Deadpool meets up with a teenager named Russell that has been abused and is turning down a dark path. This is the reason the movie uses to bring Cable officially into movies and it is about fucking time. Cable is one of the few beloved characters that has yet to appear on the screen and Josh Brolin makes sure he was worth the wait. One of the things Deadpool 2 gets right about Cable is not going full speed into who he is and his family connections. X-Men history is...convoluted at best. Introduce the character here and worry about the mommy/daddy issues in another movie.

Cable comes back to the past to kill Russell for future bad reasons (see no spoilers) and Deadpool feels it is on him to keep Russell alive and convince him there is another path to go down. To do so he forms his own superteam called X-Force.

Deadpool 2 is the perfect place to introduce some of these characters that would not get love anywhere else. Domino is a fan favorite that would not have her own movie, but here she is one of the best things. I want to talk more about the heroes that make up X-Force, but for funny reasons I am not. If you have seen the movie you know why and believe me their appearances are memorable. Also, don't worry, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus return for the fun.

As I said earlier Deadpool 2 is great not just because of its humor, but because of the back and forth it plays with emotionally. This is something unexpected especially from the sequel. The first had emotion with Wade dealing with his cancer and the journey to becoming Deadpool, but you might have expected a second movie to ham it up more because "that's Deadpool". Ryan Reynolds and returning screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick care for this character and it shows in how well the laughs and heartache are woven in the script.

So short version: lots of fucks (the words, not the action), blood, action, Cable calling people pussies, Domino deserving her own movie, Green Lantern jokes, Morena Baccarin showing why she should be Catwoman and Terry Crews.

Automatic score increase for Terry Crews.

8.5 Don't Fuck Up The New Clue Movies Out Of 10

Friday, May 4, 2018

Down in Ragnarok: God of War Review

I am just gonna cut to the chase in case you want to know if you should buy God of War if you haven't already.

God of War is fucking amazing. There is no way around it. Even if the story was not one of the best since The Last of Us, the gameplay is so fun and spot on that you could play just for the exhilarating combat and still have a good experience. Luckily the story is the best part about this masterpiece.

Yeah, I said masterpiece.

God of War (and Kratos) seemed to be a relic of the past. A game that had its time in the sun with the first 3 entries (as well as one good PSP entry) and then limped on with a prequel in Ascension that felt like more of the same. It seemed like God of War had run its course. But series director Cory Barlog decided to take Kratos somewhere he had never been before...outside the confines of Greek mythology. Not only that, but they gave Kratos a son and a deeper meaning besides just running around, screaming at everything and screwing women with button prompts.

Now the series has done something that many of its fans have done. It grew up.

The testosterone filled teenagers that began playing God of War in 2005 are now 13 years older, in their mid to late 20's, or older, possibly with families of their own and trying to navigate the overwhelming world of parenting. Now Kratos is back and instead of the chain swinging, dick laying masculinity god, he is a humbled, soft spoken father helping navigate his son through danger.

Kratos has lost his wife and he and his son, Atreus, begin the journey to scatter her ashes from the tallest peak in the realm. Don't worry, you learn more of his wife and time in between games as you make your trek. And because this is a video game things do not go as planned on the way there. Kratos spends his time cleaving creatures with his new weapon, the Leviathan axe as Atreus helps him with his trusty bow.

Essentially the game is a large escort mission. I know, I know those are some of the most dreaded words to anyone playing a video game, but much like Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, you do not have worry about Atreus. He can handle himself and at most he will faint until the combat is over. If anything he makes the combat more enjoyable with you being able to control where he shoots arrows adding a new depth to enemy encounters. He will even hop onto enemies and attack them with his knife giving you openings to attack. It really is the best integration of an escort character ever.

There are so many ways to upgrade Kratos and Atreus that it is almost ridiculous. Everything from attack upgrades to armor and individual weapons can be personalized. Even pommels for your axe (and other weapons wink, wink) as well as armor can be changed and each set has its own set of stats meaning you have to focus on what you want to prioritize for your character, whether it be strength and defense, or luck and rune strength.

If you are a fan of mythology throughout different cultures like I am you are treated to a game that is dripping with Norse history and tales. Just like any other mythology their characters are flawed and just plain fucked up. I want to say so much about the characters you will meet along the way, but the story is so well woven that so much is a spoiler. Just know that Kratos works just as well with Norse gods as he does with Greek ones which means not well at all.  He thought he had escaped the god killing business, but like The Godfather Part III, just when he thought he was out they pull him right back in.

I say this with no hyperbole. God of War in 4K HDR is the most beautiful game ever crafted. From how intricate characters are in cutscenes to the vibrant color of each new realm you discover. It takes a lot to make me just stop and take everything in while you are in the middle of a story this great. This is one of those games.

So if you want a summary of God of War here it is:

Visuals, music, production design, environments, controls, voice acting. Name any aspect of this game and it is the new standard for how large games should be handled. The care that was taken when crafting it is unrivaled. This is what happens when you have first party studios and let them take time to hone their craft and tell the story they want to tell.

We're not talking game of the year. We are in the game of the generation conversation.

10 Take Your Son To Work Days Out Of 10