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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – The Ultimates: Omniversal Volume 1

Start with the Impossible

Creative Team:

  • Writer:  Al Ewing
  • Art:  Kenneth Rocafort
  • Colors:  Dan Brown
  • Letters:  Joe Sabino

The Ultimates had my attention from the start, by putting together a team starring heroes I love – Captain Marvel, Ms. America, Black Panther, and Monica Rambeau – and oh yeah, GALACTUS is on the cover.  Add in the Blue Marvel, and how could I not check it out?

The team assembles with one goal in mind – to deal proactively with the cosmic threats that always seem to end up threatening Earth.  And what better one to start with than Galactus, the hunger that does not cease?  And if you can cure big G of his hunger, should you?  That’s just the first impossible question the Ultimates tackle.

If there is one thing I wish were different on this, it’s that there’s a lot of set-up happening for future events, and not a ton of room for every character to shine.  But I get the feeling everyone will get a turn, and the stories in this volume focus quite a bit on Blue Marvel and his history, with a little bit of Ms. America in for good measure.  Add in an in-universe explanation for how time works in the Marvel universe, and a couch conversation between Owen Reece and Galactus, and you pretty much have me hooked.  Al Ewing does a solid job writing for all these big personalities, and the art from Rocafort and Brown is quite lovely.

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Console Games PC Games Review

Game Thoughts – No Man’s Sky

I’m not calling this a review as I’m not that far in, but I already have a lot of complicated thoughts about No Man’s Sky.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Is it any good?  I don’t…know?  Seriously, I can see how some people can tune into it – there is something zen about scooting around a planet, finding the gear drops and cataloging animals.  I don’t know if that part of it is going to hold up, as there is no real progression there.  You can go to another different planet millions of times, but the steps you do are pretty much always going to be the same.
  2. The linear progression is too linear.  Your backpack and ship, save for one specific situation below, always increase by one notch of space when you improve them.  You are constantly juggling inventory.  There are so many crafting materials and parts you need that you never get ahead of it.  If you are going to have a limited inventory, you need a better balance of when you make the player have to make that keep/toss decision.  Every five minutes, every fracking time you land at a new shelter or whatever, is TOO MUCH.
  3. Sameness.  It’s a bit too easy to see “The Matrix” behind it all, as one of the Penny Arcade guys said yesterday, as there are only so many components they use to make up the creatures, and while the planets vary in numerous ways, it’s all within a very specific set of parameters.  For the ships, sure, they look different, but there literally nothing else about them that’s unique – you’re just checking a box to get one more bit of inventory space when you switch.
  4. Is there a story?  It seems like there is, and some of the the little side stories seem interesting, but it’s not (yet) the focus of the game.  We’ll see what happens as I get farther in.

It’s funny, I’ve written all of that, and if I look back it seems not very positive, but I DO want to play again.  It’s almost like, there are hints at a larger, more interesting story surrounding all of this and I just haven’t seen it yet.  I’m just not 100% convinced that the story actually exists, and that the treadmill of find minerals – slightly upgrade your stuff – repeat at a place only slightly different is worth sticking around long enough to find out.  I’ll revisit this and update it if I delve deeper.

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Movies Review

Movie Review – Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Full disclosure:  if I saw the original movie as a kid, I don’t remember it.  This version of Pete’s Dragon starts out in the most Disney manner ever, with Pete (Oakes Fegley) losing his parents but being rescued by Elliott.  Pete lives in the forest for several years with Elliott, until he’s found by Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard), a forest ranger who reminds him of his mother.

Look, I’m not going to surprise you if I tell you what happens.  Bonds will form, there’s danger, happy ending, lots of tears if that’s your thing.  It’s a well-made movie, and Elliott is beautifully animated.  It moves a bit slow on occasion, so if you have younger children who are fidgety, keep that in mind.  The cast is rounded out by Wes Bentley, Karl Urban (as the closest thing to a villain, he wants to capture Elliott), and Robert Redford.  All are very earnest, I guess is the best way I can describe it.

Pete’s Dragon is a great way to spend an afternoon with your family, and hey, sometimes you need that.

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Movies Review

Movie Review – Star Trek Beyond

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with the “Kelvin-verse” Star Trek movies.  I really like the cast, and have come to grips with the fact that, since it’s not a TV show, the movies need to shade a bit more to the action side of things than the more cerebral Trek episodes.  Still, the first two movies (especially Star Trek Into Darkness) made some really painful story choices and had me looking at Star Trek Beyond with a bit of trepidation.  I’m happy to report that Star Trek Beyond was pretty darn great, and definitely my favorite of the three so far.

I think what works here more than the previous two movies is, you actually feel like these individuals have come together as a crew.  There are quiet moments of contemplation and camaraderie mixed in with the action beats and it just makes it feel more like Star Trek.  I could actually believe this crew having to deal with some of the stranger stuff from the original series, like Trelaine or Apollo or planets where everybody talks like a gangster.

Beyond follow this crew right in the middle of their 5 year mission, with Kirk handling a diplomatic exchange between two warring races.  Unlike what we’re used to with Picard, it does not go well.  “I ripped my shirt again,” Kirk laments at one point in a tongue-in-cheek moment.  He feels a bit lost, which makes sense as this version of Kirk didn’t have his Starfleet dad to watch and look up to his whole life.

It isn’t uncommon, you know? It’s easy to get lost. In the vastness of space, there’s only yourself, your ship, your crew.

This line comes from Commodore Paris, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo of The Expanse, as Kirk discusses taking a desk job with her.  This is a different spin on the original cast movies, with Admiral Kirk leaving the desk job behind to get out and make a difference in the galaxy again.  Pine’s Kirk is chafing under the monotony of a five year mission, feeling ‘episodic’ (:wink:) and having trouble with the idea that you never really reach a destination out in the vastness of space.  It also works as a counterpoint to the villain, who was sent out into space himself (remaining vague so as not to spoil things) and was broken by it.

I loved the character beats between the leads, it felt very much like the classic series Kirk/Spock/McCoy interactions.  Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah fit in fairly well, and I liked that they didn’t shoehorn in some romantic subplot just because they were adding a female lead.  If there’s one thing that bothered me about Beyond, it’s that 20-21st century music played a role again.  Yeah, it was a callback to the first movie but it felt a bit out of place then and it still does now.  Minor quibble, though, to be sure.

If you are a Trek fan but were turned off by Star Trek Into Darkness, give Star Trek Beyond a try.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Categories
Movies Review

Movie Review – Ghostbusters (2016)

I’m happy to report that I have seen the new Ghostbusters movie and did not, in fact, experience the death of my childhood.  We all enjoyed it quite a bit.  Sure, there’s a few bits that don’t land but that’s true of the original Ghostbusters if you can manage to view it without the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia.

The story focuses mostly on Melissa McCarthy’s Dr. Abby Yates and Kristen Wiig’s Dr. Erin Gilbert, who used to work together and wrote a book on the paranormal.  Gilbert distanced herself from it, while Yates continues to research ghosts.  They come back together when Yates puts the book up on Amazon, threatening her tenure at Columbia.  Of course, they DO end up both finding a ghost and losing their jobs which leads to the creation of the Ghostbusters.

Abby’s new partner, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), comes along with her as the engineer who builds the ghostbusting equipment, and Leslie Jones’s Patty Tolan joins up after she encounters a ghost in the subway, bringing her knowledge of New York City (and her uncle’s hearse) to the team.  Chris Hemsworth rounds out the main cast as Kevin, the extremely dim-witted but hunky secretary.  I thought all the leads were great, especially Kate McKinnon as you no doubt have heard by now.  Holtzmann is wonderfully weird, and my daughters both loved Abby.  I even saw my son, who was totally “Why did they remake it with GIRLS?” before smiling and laughing at multiple points.

The original Ghostbusters cast (those still with us, RIP Harold Ramis) all had fun cameos, especially Bill Murray as a James Randi-esque paranormal debunker. There’s a bit of off-color humor, though not nearly as much as the original, about on par with Guardians of the Galaxy.  There’s a lot of fun to be had here, so if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a trip to check it out.