I’m back, baby. Only took a year and a half for me to come up with another written blog post idea. It’s a video.
This section always makes me sad. Very sad. In a medium I love so dearly, why must shit cloud its artistic shelves?
Honorable Mention: A Most Violent Year
It’s honestly a good flick, but in no world can it justify its run time. The plot is solid but could be condensed to forty minutes. When I can shave off over half the movie’s run time and still piece together every single story element, that’s an issue. A Most Boring Year is good, if you’re doing spring cleaning with it on in the background or something.
5.) Black Mass
Damn, organized crime movies just can’t get it together this year. Basically, Johny Depp’s makeup looks ridiculous, the movie is tediously slow without the skilled tension mounting of, say, the Godfather series, the pacing is awful and god help me did they waste Corey Stoll’s character. He singlehandedly could’ve saved this movie if they’d introduced him in the second half rather than the final twenty minutes. There was potential for a great throwdown and the movie just says “use your imagination because it DID happen we’re just not showing it.” No, Black Mass, I go to a movie to SEE cool things. Not imagine them.
If I were viewing this movie as a comedy, what it’s ADVERTISED as, it’d be my worst movie of the year simply because of how awful and devoid of humor the whole thing is. I give it the benefit of being a comedy/spy-thriller hybrid though, as the actual execution of the spy stuff wasn’t that bad. Still, not funny whatsoever. Two chuckle-worthy one-liners are all you get and the run time is much longer than those two sentences, I assure you.
3.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This movie managed to rip my heart out even though I went in with zero expectations. It’s just so soulless. As much as people hate on the prequels, at least they TRIED to tell a new story. This shit is just a shameless rehash of the original trilogy’s plots rolled into one gargantuan pile of Disney money-generating garbage. The story has so many ridiculous conveniences after the first twenty minutes that I honestly couldn’t take it seriously, and my friends and I were laughing from the halfway point to the finish line at how much of a joke this reboot was. And it IS a soft reboot, because if it wasn’t, what the fuck is their justification for calling this Episode 7 when it’s just a supercut of Episodes 4, 5 and 6?
2.) Avengers: Age of Ultron
Disney is knocking it out of the park this year with people eating up their shit and throwing money at by-the-numbers cookie cutter action flicks. My issue with this movie is, simply put, it’s the week of Ultron, not the age. He is the most poorly written villain I’ve seen in my LIFE. In the first trailer, he was fucking scary, in a good way. In the movie? He’s a comedian who never uses any of his fucking powers, literally just to let the good guys win. HE CAN HACK THE INTERNET. You know how much damage he could cause within a matter of seconds? He could’ve started WW3 and been on his merry way while the Avengers drowned in a sea of global violence. But no, he hacks one bank account then plays with vibranium cylinders for the rest of the movie. It’s pathetic, and I really hope none of the writing staff are proud of themselves for this, Joss Whedon and his secret ghost assistants or otherwise.
1.) Terminator Genisys
At least the other movies had some form of endearment going for them. Some scene or line of dialogue I could pick out and go “hey, that wasn’t so bad”. This movie has pasties on tits, special effects from the 70’s and a lead female who can’t decide whether she wants to be Juliet or Sarah goddamn Connor. The plot is garbage and riddled with the same kinds of awful conveniences and plotholes Age of Ultron and The Force Awakens had, just without even a glimmer of the same charm. Ew. This movie is just ew.
Age of Ultron is a mediocre ad for future Marvel Cinematic Universe adventures. Black Panther nods? Check. Thor: Ragnarok teasing? Literally ten minutes’ worth. Infinity War hints? So many it’s not even enjoyable. And yet, ironically, the movie doesn’t end on a note that even slightly hints at Civil War, the immediate follow-up. Although the real crime in all of this is that I’m left wondering where the FUCK the AGE OF ULTRON WAS. If you want to talk about by the numbers, filler sequels that serve no purpose of their own beyond setting up future expansions, take off your Marvel fanboy cap, apologize to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 and put Age of Ultron in its place as the most contrived, plot thread dangling garbage expansion-bait movie of the decade.
It’s not even that Age of Ultron is BAD, per-say, it’s just so lacking and so decidedly average. Literally 5.5 out of 10 average, .5 better than downright neutral. The first thirty minutes are pretty solid, leading you to believe that Joss Whedon actually knew how to evolve the charm of the first Avengers. The Hydra battle in Sokovia is solid as shit, even if there are some stupid things like Hawkeye not dying from a DIRECT HIT to the chest by a goddamned tesseract laser. But I can let those slide, as Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and the crew throwing down is too much fun. The banter and witty dialogue is better than ever, probably the best out of any Marvel movie yet. Unfortunately, immediately following the celebration party after the big Hydra battle, things dissolve to utter shit. Ultron is rushed into full-on villain by this point, after a brief thirty second segment where he is born into the world. Within ten minutes of having entered the scene, Ultron’s character has evolved to the point where any other movie’s villain would be at after an hour and a half, and not in a good way. He’s already got his whole plan, his motives, his gang, etc. and all of this goes unexplained and unexplored. Same goes for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s history. They get one monologue explaining their past and then BAM, they’re bad guys with Ultron now because of a downright stupid grudge. Joss mentioned in an interview how there was about an hour’s worth of film cut to get the movie from three and a half down to two and a half hours which involved cutting a lot of Ultron’s and the Twins’ story development, but having seen the final product, I wish Whedon had manned up and kept all of it in. Maybe then these new characters would feel fleshed out, rather than generic obstacles for the Avengers to overcome.
Now, even if a plot is rushed as hell there’s still a chance it can be enjoyable and make sense. Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases. Age of Ultron relies on deus ex machinas like Hugh Hefner relies on tits, and I’m not even exaggerating. For the past seven, eight or however many movies there’ve been in the MCU, adamantium has been unbreakable, right? So of course in this movie, the one time a villain gets his hands on it, Iron Man magically finds a way to break it using Vision’s mind gem and Thor’s electricity combo. So stupid. But while we’re making up excuses for plot convenience, how about we analyze the final battle in which EVERYONE repeatedly says “we’re not gonna make it. Either civilians die, or we die, or we all die, but one of those populations is getting the boot”. They say this LITERALLY right up to the final second when inexplicably Iron Man solves everything and stops Ultron’s master plan. They do not explain how an entire city coming down from orbit in the form of thousands of burning comets does no damage at all to the planet, nor do they explain how that was a safe move considering literally every character said that would damn the earth if they did it, hence why they didn’t just start with that. But of course, let’s all turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard for plot coherence. I’m not kidding when I say that Transformers: Age of Extinction had a better plot. We’ve hit rock bottom (or wait no we haven’t because somehow that magically doesn’t do any damage, sorry Ultron).
The kicker of that above paragraph is that at one point the battered, nearly destroyed Ultron openly references how bullshit this all is and how contrived and contradictory the writing is, when Hulk enters his getaway Quinjet and all you hear is James Spader yelling “For God’s sake!”. It’s my favorite quote of the whole movie, because that one line sums it all up. Even Ultron recognizes that there’s no way he shouldn’t have won in some fashion, but because of plotholes, conveniences and the necessity of the heroes needing to win, he had to lose it all.
And even plot elements that aren’t technically “flawed” are shit, like Black Widow’s past being explored. They try to make it super emotional and dark when we find out the KGB had her sterilized, but because of how cheesy her sad face is, how poorly done the flashback implementations were and how irrelevant it was to the bigger picture, while everyone else was busy crying I was just sitting there non-plussed at the fact everyone else gives DC shit for this but in reality they do the dark stuff so much better. This one scene justifies why we need Marvel to stick to light-hearted stupid fun rather than DC’s more realistic take. Same goes for Quicksilver’s death. I mean, who cares? Joss kept teasing one teammate was going to die to fill the quota for “dramatic sacrifices”, and I called Quicksilver as being the sacrificial lamb a month ago in a post on this very blog. I predicted why he would die, how he would die, all of it. Yet given how obvious they made it, they still expected me to care, which was hard with all the moronic sheep sitting next to me blubbering like toddlers at the scene when Quicksilver was the only logical character that Marvel could afford to kill off. And the fact that I could call it so far in advance is a testament to how blase the writing of this movie was.
In terms of other flaws, Brian Tyler’s score is lackluster. He just reuses Alan Silvestri’s far superior Avengers theme a minimum of four times throughout the movie, and then calls it a day. Pathetic. And the special effects continue Iron Man 3‘s trend of deciding to use up the budget on unnecessary advertising rather than CGI work, meaning that it looks like a cartoon at times; another parallel to Transformers: Age of Extinction. Not good. One last thing as far as personal gripes go is that they decided to implement a trailer-effect on one of the in-movie shots, where things are moving at normal speed then turbo boost for a split second for no reason (not related to Quicksilver either). If you want to see what I mean, watch this video at the 1:52 mark to see the effect I’m talking about in action. Again, just a nitpick but it’s such an amateurish move in terms of editing. Ew.
The only three compliments I can really give this movie are for A.) Doing the Vision justice, B.) Giving Rhodey some much needed love and a cool Iron Man 2 throwback scene, and C.) Nailing the humor balance in the dialogue. But those are it. The only benefits this movie has going for it. Given how rushed everything is, the action doesn’t feel rewarding, but rather obligatory and soulless. In fact, those two words pretty much sum up what Age of Ultron was, obligatory and soulless. It is the foundation in a plot-point pyramid that will support and hopefully atone for its sins in Civil War, else this might prove to be the start of a downwards spiral for the MCU.
If there’s one thing that can convince me to re-buy Microsoft’s motion controlled peripheral Kinect, it’s the promise of a fully-fleshed out Avengers game. I’m proud to announce that Ubisoft succeeded in this endeavor, and if you were on the fence about getting a Kinect and/or Avengers B4E, it’s definitely worth the investment.
After my relatively fun time with Injustice and the DC universe, I decided to see what Marvel had in store for my fighting game itch. In return, I got a fighting game package that housed as much content as Injustice, just forgoing the superfluous S.T.A.R. missions and instead providing a wide assortment of interesting challenges with subtle modifiers. The other modes such as arcade and story all provided equally meaningful content to the game, all of which was twice as fun in B4E’s fantastic co-op.
The story mode has a pretty interesting story that doesn’t feel like a bunch of superhero multiverse cliches (… Injustice), but instead makes use of Marvel’s villains to provide a serviceable and relevant comic book plotline that you can actually get swept up in. It all begins when the Skrulls begin using their morphing powers to impersonate earth’s favorite heroes, which means the Avengers need to put these imposters in their place. Like I said, serviceable and perfect for the source material.
Once you get through the fourty one fights in story mode, there’s still a large amount of content to explore. The challenges and character missions are a blast, either helping you to explore a character’s move set or take on increasingly difficult modifiers to hone your battle skills. They feel nothing like a tutorial, however, and fit the game’s short-but-intense fighting mentality. Lastly, there’s arcade, a relatively standard fighting game component that pits your team of characters against increasingly difficult teams of AI. The challenge increases at a good pace, never leaving you blown away by enemies’ sudden ability to pummel you to pieces.
While all of that provides a hefty single player experience, the multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to an already superb amount of content. Campaign and arcade can be played in glorious co-op, and the Kinect tracks two people simultaneously surprisingly well. On top of that, there are offline and online competitive matches, and they’re both fantastic. Offline competitive fighting provides the same level of precision motion-tracking and fun as any other offline multiplayer mode, and online I encountered no lag whatsoever. Actually finding a match took a little bit of time (two or three minutes), but that’s to be expected with any Kinect game with online multiplayer. As an added incentive to play online, there are even player cards and collectable titles you can use to represent yourself online, and while it may seem standard for most fighters, it was a really nice touch in a Kinect fighter which most would wrongly assume to have less depth.
Being a Kinect only game, none of this content would amount to scratch if the controls weren’t solid. Luckily, the actual controls and the tracking of movements are both superb, easily the best I’ve encountered on the Kinect to date. All of the moves feel authentic to their character, such as holding your hands up high and raising one leg to have Spider-Man sling into and then kick an opponent, or open your arms and then slam them shut to have Hulk chuck a slab of rock at an enemy. All of the motions tie together perfectly for combos and juggles, providing a combat experience with depth and strategy. The dodging mechanic is especially well incorporated, being a simple shoulder lean to the left or the right to dodge incoming attacks. It’s fluid, fast and fun, simple as that. I occasionally ran into some weird screen freezes (about four times over the course of my play time) and the occasional framerate drop, but these were isolated enough that it didn’t rupture the experience.
-Cohesive story with nice comic-book presentation
-Huge roster of 20 characters from all over the Marvel universe, ranging from Iron Man to Super Skrull
-Lots of meaty content, modes and unlockables
-Phenomenal co-op component
-Graphics don’t try to be gritty and realistic, instead having a nice, colorful and comic-y HD approach
-Controls and motion tracking are the best currently available with Kinect
-Online matches are a lag free and sensational full-body experience
-A few graphical hiccups and crashes
-Matchmaking can take a while
On a sheer basis of good-to-bad, Avengers: Battle for Earth succeeds in being a great game. It has enough content to actually warrant a full-price purchase (I haven’t said that for a game in months), and allows for the best co-op Kinect experience you’ll ever have. Even without a dedicated tag team partner, Battle for Earth is still the best game in Kinect’s library and is worth checking out whether you’re a fan of Marvel or just want a fun, adrenaline-fueled and action-packed time.
What movies from this year should you be adding to your DVD (’cause DVD’s are the jam) collection? Read on to find out!
In a year jam-packed with superhero flicks, the Avengers was a no-brainer. While it didn’t quite trump some of the other awesome super hero films of the year, it was definitely pretty great. Seeing Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and the gang all in one place at the same time was monumental and easily one of the greatest cinematic moments of the year.
Number 4.) Skyfall
Skyfall was just a really well-rounded movie. The soundtrack? Amazing. The acting? Amazing. The plot? Impressively solid and interesting, as far as Bond movies go. I really can’t help but recognize it as the definitive Bond film.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was dry-eyed at hearing about Toby McGuire’s departure from Spider-Man. He was all right, but honestly, Andrew Garfield takes everything that made him good and multiplies it five times over. He’s the definitive Spidey, and there’s so much more depth to his non-superhero self this time around. And how can we forget about Emma Stone. She’s fantastic. As always.
Number 2.) The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan pretty much reserved a spot on everybody’s top __ movie list this year with TDKR. Not only did it neatly wrap up the best superhero trilogy of all-time, but it felt satisfying, as so few movies do nowadays. It really provided a detailed, lengthy plot, an ounce of superhero magic, the best ending of anything ever, and an overall extremely impressive three hour epic.
Number 1.) Wreck-It Ralph
I know that a lot of you are on the verge of clicking away after seeing the number one spot go to this movie, but wait! Don’t go! I have reasons as to why Wreck-It Ralph is the best of 2012. If seeing all of the best video game characters of the decade on the big screen wasn’t enough, Disney finally managed to muster up something that might possibly be as awesome as Toy Story, which is no small feat. The characters were memorable, the worlds were memorable, and its the best thing to come out of Disney in a while. Not only is it an instant classic, but it provides us gamers with something we’ve always wanted: Sonic, Pac-Man and Dig Dug in a movie. Together.