Movie Diary

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them
I’m a real latecomer to the Harry Potter thing. I was aware of the series for most of the 2000s of course, but didn’t see any of the movies (still haven’t read the books) until 2010 right before the last one came out. Dawn and I marathoned the series on Netflix (Discs by mail!)and then saw the final installment of Deathly Hallows when it reached theaters. I have afoundation of the series without being a super fan. I didn’t know what to expect from Fantastic Beasts. It is a very interesting film with more than a few strange choices. Firstly, the lead role played by Eddie Redmayne is really strange. He’s so socially awkwards, mumbles most lines and rarely looks other characters in the eye while speaking directly to them. Dan Fogler is unrecognizable but is also putting on a great character performance. I’ll admit to not being very familiar with most of the other actors but they were all similar shades of awkward. Kinda neat for a movie that is supposed to be a huge studio action film with kid appeal.

Held on the DVR for about 3 or 4 months. Finally watched it and wasn’t disappointed. A fitting tribute to George Michael.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Ok so when Indy is running from the natives in the opening scene, he’s left behind a small crew dead in the expedition. Then he gets in a single engine plane with one seat. What the hell was going to happen to all those other guys? Was he counting on them getting killed? Otherwise, this movie holds up.

Lego Batman
I’ve seen The Lego Movie a hundred times. Kids love it. I was hot to see this one before it came out then the reviews were great too, so we finally made it out a couple weeks ago. It almost plays like an official parody of Batman movies. The weird Tom Hardy Bane voice coming out of the comic looking Bane was pretty great.

Batman v Superman
OK so Superman arrives at congress to face questions and Bruce Wayne is watching on TV and asks whats the deal with the former employee who is also appearing. He sees the returned checks, he sees the bomb go off and while I can appreciate it might be hard to directly connect this entire thing to Lex Luthor is should be clear to HIM that there is a conspiracy to frame Superman. One so great it will put him in the US Capitol building with a bomb and kill hundreds. Why the hell does he continue to pursue his insane plan to stab Superman to death? Shouldn’t the world’s greatest detective go deeper at this point?

Great Wall
My dad had a brush with death 2 months ago. Trapped in a hospital bed watching network TV as he recovered, we saw a lot of ads for this Matt Damon bomb. We decided this movie had to be either so great or so stupid. As he got better, we went out for a weeknight screening at the nearest IMAX screen. I know it was an off peak time to see a movie in its 2nd or 3rd week of release but we were the ONLY people in an IMAX theater. The weird mix of fake history, science fiction, fantasy, and Matt Damon’s accent conspired to make a movie that defied rationality. Monsters from space that attack on an Earth clock! One Chinese warrior speaks perfect English! Bungee jumping with spears! Willem Dafoe! Emperor of China is played by some kid from a boy band! Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work? Never mind the white washing, the movie was shot and paid for by the Chinese and there is so much nationalism for a culture, society, and events that do exist it was difficult to comprehend. I’m not sure who this movie was for! It is barely on the edge of Mystery Science Theater 3000 level bad.

Game Diary

Game Diary: Forza Horizon, Crysis, LEGO Batman

With the Xbox summer sale in effect, I downloaded a few games I had been wanting to play for a while like Borderlands 2 and Tomb Raider.  I’ll get to those later, I started with a game I bought for three measley dollars…

I’ve heard a lot about this game over the years, mostly  noting that the PC game was too graphically intense to run on any current hardware.  An Xbox 360 version obviously isn’t running those max settings, but looks clean and as good as any other notable game from this generation.  I’ve never purchased a game based on graphical reputation, and I actually did here since I knew nothing about that game aside from that reputation and tv commercials for the sequels.  This is a mistake I will never repeat.

Crysis isn’t bad, but it is hard.  I’m not a great shooter player, even if I enjoy playing them.  Halo is the only one I feel I’m good at, and that is only through practice and knowing my weaknesses as well as my strengths.  I selected the “normal” difficulty which is most games would allow me a little forgiveness, especially in early levels as I get used to game’s enemies and controls.  NOPE.  I got killed on the first encounter.  THE FIRST ONE.  Didn’t even see the guy up on a ridge.

And it escalated from there.  Enemies hiding in brush, enemies hiding in buildings, enemies with better aim than mine constantly calling me out and spotting me even when I’m ‘cloaked’ and should be invisible when motionless.

I resorted to an old Halo trick of running past groups of enemies in order to avoid a fight. I wasn’t even past the first level.  Checkpoints reload really quickly to deescalate frustration, but having to rerun the same spot 6 times isn’t fun no matter what.  I turned the game off after an hour.  Maybe I’ll restart on easy, but not any time soon.

Lego Batman 2
I have played my share of LEGO games and I really find it hard to understand what makes one different from the other.  The first LEGO Batman game I played for a little bit and enjoyed the Danny Elfman music that accompanied, but since it wasn’t based on a movie directly like Star Wars, the original story didn’t seem to grab me since there was no dialog.

LEGO Batman 2 has voices.  Plenty of talking.  Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor seems to be the only role that is reprised from a previous outing, the rest of the voices I’ve encountered so far seem well cast for the more light hearted game.

But it is still a LEGO game.  Lots of item hunting, lots of build puzzles, lots of button mash fights.  I played Co-Op with my wife, and we were occasionally frustrated by the odd split screen effects.  It made some of the platforming a little hard when you needed to go up, but the screen split horizontally.

We will definitely go back and play some more later.  Haven’t even gotten to play as Superman or other characters yet, but was elated to hear John Williams’ theme when he showed up.

Forza Horizon
I almost didn’t pick up this game, I last played Forza III and while it is a technically amazing game and really amazing to look at, I don’t tend to favor more realistic racers.  I prefer Burnout.  But I remembered Horizon is supposed to be a little more casual so I gave it a try.  Wow, so glad I did.  Easily the best game I picked up this week. 

It is set in an open world surrounding a festival and driving around to events I was immediately reminded of Burnout Paradise.  No explosions or crazy stunts, but there are speed cameras everywhere to clock your top speed and ghost challenges from friends all over.  I like the combination of night and day time events, as well as the exploration, finding old cars abandoned in barns.  There is a fast travel option that I never use, not because I don’t want to spend money, but because I’d rather play to get somewhere.  On the road aside from regular traffic are 249 other drivers you can challenge to races for more cash.  Like a role playing game, I’m grinding that cash now so when I get to higher levels buying a new car or parts is no big deal.

I don’t know if I’ll pick up a Forza 5, but if the Horizon series continues I’ll probably stick with it.  I still really hope Criterion makes another Burnout game, but the street racing sign busting from Paradise made it into Horizon, so I’m scratching that itch anyway.

And now a moment of silence for my white wired Xbox 360 controller, which now sticks on the X button and has spotty success on the Y button.  I’ve had it for 6 years and it is finally done.  I haven’t decided if I’ll buy another wired or wireless one.