The Bond Thing – Introduction

Hello everyone! As we all know “Spectre” the 24th film in the James Bond series is coming soon to theaters. Prior to the release of Bond film in theaters, I always do a marathon of the series in proper order. I usually do one every winter anyway but the order never matters or I skip around etc. This time however I decided to have some fun with it. Inspired by some Twitter friends I’m introducing The Bond Thing.  This is a countdown series running during the month of October. Each day will a rundown of my personal favorite things Bond related in different categories. The categories are as follows:

October 1-5: Top 5 Bond Gun Barrel/Pre-Title sequence

October 6-10: Top 5 Bond Girls

October 11-15: Top 5 Bond Themes

October 16-20: Top 5 Bond Moments

October 20-31: Top 10 Bond films + 1 Honorable Mention (since there are 31 days in October)

Throughout this venture I will also give an update as to my status on my marathon. At the time of this post I’m up to 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” 

This is my first attempt at a true daily posting and I look forward to this. If you love Bond like I do, feel free to join in and mention your favorites as well as we countdown to “Spectre.” 

  

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Review – Justice League: Gods and Monsters

  

The latest DC Universe animated movie takes us to an alternate universe. This actually isn’t new territory for these films, but usually it involves the alternative characters conflicting with the versions of the characters we are mostly familiar with. This time around we are solely in this universe, which is great.

Superman pretty much has the same origin except he is the son of Zod not Jor-El and instead of being found by the Kent family, he is raised by a Mexican family. His name is Hernan Guerra and although he grows up with the same hardworking ethic his Clark Kent counterpart, but he also deals with the troubles and discrimination that minorities deal with. This leaves him with a very short fuse in addition to his amazing powers.

Wonder Woman is Bekka. A New God who escape to Earth with a mother box after Highfather kills her husband and the Apokolips royal family. She has a very aggressive personality. Especially when working with Steve Trevor

Batman is Kirk Langstrom. A scientist who like his Man-Bat counterpart, transforms himself unintentionally into a human-vampire hybrid to combat his cancer. Yet his hunger begins to eat away at his humanity.

The trio works without accountability, so when 3 scientists, Victor Fries, Ray Palmer and Silas Stone are found dead, the team has a sensitive alliance with the government to clear their names.

 

What makes this alternate universe worth watching? It’s the fact that while these three may not initially reflect the versions we are familiar with, you can see these are good people. We see how people change despite the circumstances that surround them and this version of the DC Trinity is no different. By the film’s end they either can be what everyone thinks they are or be more.

This is certainly one of the better animations in this canon. The return of Bruce Timm’s iconic style and a character driven narrative make me eager for the follow up film and how they introduce other DC characters for this universe’s Justice League.

Final Rating (4.5/5)

More and More

It’s been a while. Here is the newest Pop! collection update…

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton

  Better late than never. I finally got to see Straight Outta Compton, a biopic about the rise of rap group N.W.A. 

Biographical films don’t interest me a whole. Mainly because they don’t totally get the balance between entertainment and information. One that I feels gets this right is Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. I learned but was entertained as well and not bored. Straight Outta Compton succeeds on both these fronts for me as well.

The movie takes place during the late 1980s-early 1990s as we follow the rise of the group to the release of their classic album “Straight Outta Compton” to their separation and reconciliation before the passing of Ruthless Records founder Eazy-E.  

The biggest strength of the movie lies with the actors portraying the hip hop stars. Two in particular, O’Shea Jackson Jr portraying his father Ice Cube in a performance so close to the real thing, you would think Ice Cube was simply cloned. The other standout was Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E. Mitchell captures not only the rap style and trademark voice of Eric Wright, but also has him being very charismatic. I seriously hope the Academy gives both these young men serious consideration.

The movie is close to two and a half hours, but director F. Gary Gray makes every moment feel fresh and engaging. If you already know the details, it feels new, and it’s revelatory if you didn’t. This story is so big that lots I’m sure were cut out. I would have loved to see more footage of Ice Cube recording “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” or Dre making “The Chronic.” Even to see Eazy creating “Eazy-Duz-It” would have been appreciated. Hopefully the home video release gives us this.

In the end what we have is a really excellent film that covers a footnote in the hip hop world and I hope it springboards into more film this epic in scope.

Final Rating (4.5/5) There’s so much story to this it couldn’t be all told.

  

 

Can you survive? DeaconsDen review of Until Dawn

  

Until Dawn is a survival horror video game from developer Supermassive Games and is available now for the Playstation 4. The game tells the story of eight friends who gather at a mountain cabin where 2 of their crew disappeared a year ago. There some very scary things begin to happen and a psychopath begins stalking them. This game combines horror elements ranging from the Scream and Saw franchises, Evil Dead and Cabin in the Woods. 

I picked this game because I read in reviews that it was short. I figured I could beat it in a weekend and trade it in for some funds toward Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. My wife sat with me because this was described as a horror thriller and she loves things like that. I started the game and both of us were hooked instantly. This to me is a story based game on par with Telltale’s The Walking Dead season 1. Not so much in terms of emotional impact, but excelling in bringing you into the story and having your decisions resonate because of the impact they have.

  
First of all this game drips atmosphere. Taking place up in the mountains where you are at the will of the elements and nature provides a great backdrop. The game takes place over a 10 hour period so it is dark for the majority of the game. The lighting effects are fantastic in all forms from light shining in a cave or radiating from a lantern or flashlight. It feels very natural. The game also contains some excellent sound design where you clearly hear every drip of water, gust of wind and even the sound of your feet walking in snow and hearing it compact. These things combined bring an amazing audio/visual experience to the narrative.

  
Next let’s take a look at our characters. We have eight playable characters all based on your standard characters in horror/thriller movies. They are:

Sam: Regular girl who fits in with everyone.

Mike: Resident popular guy

Chris: The nerd

Ashley: The quirky girl who likes Chris

Jessica: Mike’s girlfriend presented as the sexpot.

Matt: The respectful jock

Emily: Matt’s girlfriend and Mike’s ex. This is a source of tension between characters

Josh: The host of the getaway and brother of the 2 missing girls.

  

Each character has specific traits that represents their personalities best. They also build relationships throughout the story and learning how to play these when needed to can help you survive the events of the story with all eight in tact. As I played with each character (some you spend more time with than others) I felt compelled to have certain characters survive because the choices I made with them resonated a bit more. There was one in particular who in a movie I would want to die early, but while playing this person became a bit of a leader which I wanted to make sure that they survived. The cast is also very good in their habitation of each role. Only 3 cast members are familiar to me, which I like because it means I’m not seeing a familiar face, but only the characters. This is a really well acted game which allows the player to connect more with the narrative, despite its intentional derivited-ness. 

  
The highlight of the game is its Butterfly Effect system. Based on the true life theory, when you make choices in the game, they have a ripple effect on future events. It’s handled very well and there is a screen in the menu that shows all the major choices and the before-after effect they had. If what you chose resulted in an outcome you did not like, you can clearly see why you got the outcome you got. This is what I felt Heavy Rain got wrong. In that game I had the worst ending and it felt I got that because I missed too many QTE’s during my run. In Until Dawn, I had a character die because I didn’t have them prepared earlier. I was trying to save everyone but I understand the error I had made to lead me to that point. It was very refreshing. 

Another thing the game does is allow you to do the common sense things that we as movie viewers are yelling at the screen during a horror movie. Each character has certain personality traits. Play to those traits or outside them if you wish but your outcome depends on them as well as relationships with other characters. It is the horror movie we’ve always wanted where we make make the characters do the logical thing during the game in order to survive. 

 
Until Dawn has become my sleeper hit of the year. I had no clue how well polished, well acted and engaging this game would be. It’s probably the best horror movie I’ve seen this year that’s not a movie at all. It’s 10 hours long which is perfect. The story feels finished and doesn’t drag on. There is replayablilty. My first playthrough resulted in 4 of the 8 teens surviving. I need to play again to collect all the clues that flesh out the mysteries of the game, totems that may or may not represent future events and make a few different choices so that I can get outcomes where everyone survives and everyone dies. If you liked Heavy Rain or Beyond Two Souls, you should love Until Dawn. A great horror experience from start to finish.

  Final Rating (4.5/5) There could have been a bit of improvement on the movement of characters. But this is a minor knock to the rest of this really good game.