Justice League Review

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After all these years of hype the Justice League movie is finally upon us. The series has been amazing so far despite getting critically pounded. Not every film was great, but for the most part they were all solid. This film also ended up being an excellent addition to the cinematic universe. It can be a bit of a slow burner at times but one that does build up to a great climax.

After a quick scene that I actually forgot until after the film, Justice League opens up with an action scene where Batman takes down a Parademon and realizes that the invasion is closer than ever before. This was a perfect scene to kick off the film since it immediately has the aliens show up so the heroes can form the team. While I will have a bunch of critiques coming up, there is nothing I can say about this scene. It was basically perfect from the set design to the Parademon’s special effects. After this Batman decides to track down Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman so that these super powered individuals can stop the invasion. Wonder Woman has been alerted to what was happening as well and shows up to help. Can this alliance really stop the armies of Apokolips?

Let’s start with the basics. The soundtrack is really good. It’s not as memorable as Man of Steel but it does a good job of sounding epic. The Wonder Woman theme returns which is always fun. I was expecting the cool Man of Steel tune but maybe next time. The graphics are also really good for the movie and that’s one area where DC really excels. I have yet to see a CBM top BVS, or this film with the backgrounds. Man of Steel and Avengers are also pretty high up in the rankings. Essentially the whole climax of Justice League is in a fiery, apocalyptic future backdrop which makes every scene even more epic.

You also have to give the film credit for most of the outfits. Batman’s is definitely one of the best he has ever had and maybe it is the best. It reminds me a lot of his look from Justice League Heroes. Superman and Wonder Woman’s costumes also look pretty sharp. I’m still not sold on Aquaman and Flash so those didn’t hit it off for me. Cyborg’s was pretty good and I actually liked the mysterious cloak/hoodie costume.

Now let’s get on to the characters. Batman is essentially the lead here. I’d say that he looks pretty good. He is still the brains of the group although his plan is typically just to get whoever he is talking to upset. It took him quite a bit to realize that the guy was Aquaman as well unless that was part of the plan. He gets beat up and saved quite a bit but his reckless self sacrifice plans are still on point. He did have a nice contingency plan for Superman again as well. When it comes to personality he’s still my 2nd favorite character as expected but he is really going to need more power ups as the films go by or he is going to have an even tougher time dealing with the villains. That is give him some prep time once again.

Superman is my favorite character as always even if they decided to go with the edgy route for this film. I don’t mind an edgy Superman if done right after all. He was comically out of character for the entirety of his first scene when he attacks the League. Sure he isn’t too thrilled about why he is around but the Superman you’d expect would just endure this quietly or at least ask some questions. Trying to seriously injure and destroy the other heroes just doesn’t seem to be in character at all. The film played it off like he was actually going to destroy Batman even using one of Batman’s edgy lines from the last film to show how the tables have turned. Later Superman is rather reluctant to help out and must be told to do so. He then does a complete 180 ad starts cracking some jokes and laughing with everyone. It’s almost like they had two different writers and the 2nd one took over just for the climax act of the film so the scenes didn’t gel well.

What both acts really got right was Superman’s power and speed though. If you’re familiar with the characters, you’ll know that Superman is way stronger than the other League members. He could beat them teaming up without using all of his power. The film demonstrates that quite nicely. Even when he’s not been able to be in the sun for a while and was likely not at full power, the heroes just couldn’t hurt him. Wonder Woman is very strong but not strong enough to actually deal damage to him. Flash is fast, but not fast enough to actually land a hit on Superman. This is essentially how every fight with Superman and the League should go and I was incredibly impressed with how Superman looked here. I get the feeling we won’t get to see him look quite as impressive ever again so remember these scenes well.

Going back to Superman’s personality for a second, it is also weird that he holds such a grudge against Batman. It’s true that only Batman called them friends and Superman was rather cold to him throughout the climax but I thought he got over that by now. Wouldn’t Superman give him a second chance or let bygones be bygones? At the very least I’d expect him to try and arrest Batman instead. I still say that Batman should have called in Martha right away. She would have ended the whole situation right away. Despite this, Superman naturally does make the hero calls in the end and he’s still the best. In a way it probably is annoying to have to save the world every other day since nobody else can do it, but Superman will get over it and be inspired again before long.

Wonder Woman naturally gets a big role as well to close out the trinity. It’s likely only second to Batman’s. Until Superman shows up she is the only power hitter of the team so she basically has to fight Steppenwolf on her own. Wonder Woman does a pretty good job of lasting and while he is a little too strong for her just having one more ally who could fight would have been very useful and could have tipped the scales. She’s certainly a solid character as well and I wouldn’t have minded if the main 3 had been the focus of the film since the rest of the League members weren’t all that good compared to them. The only scene where Wonder Woman looks bad is when she decides to go against Batman in his master plan. I’m cool with her disagreeing with him since not messing with death can be sound advice. That being said, she immediately goes for the personal attacks and brings Superman into the discussion yet when Batman responds in kind she snaps and breaks his shoulder. She can dish it out, but evidently she can’t take it. Batman’s response was also pretty on point since she did randomly vanish for a century. We can blame DC for not thinking that plotline through since it was out of character for her, but it happened so she doesn’t have a whole lot of room to counter here.

On a side note, I would have liked to have had more scenes of Batman insulting the League. He had to play ball with them since Superman wasn’t around and he was a bit of a leader for them, but it feels like a missed opportunity. If Superman had been around the whole time, Batman could have acted like the stone cold detective he usually is with subtle burns and verbal shots throughout the film. Maybe next time though and he still got his share of memorable lines. Next up is Aquaman. He’s the worst member on the team so I won’t dwell on him too much. He’s basically just a drunk guy with slight super strength who is supposed to be funny, but never quite makes it. He contributes absolutely nothing to the film. If you take him away then the events don’t change. He feels like filler throughout and the guy seems to just be around to annoy everyone. The film also tries to use him for humor which doesn’t work too well. This guy should not have been in the film and I had a feeling this would be the case ever since the first trailer.

On the humor side, I was impressed with the film. From the trailers/ the last two DC films I got the vibe that the film was going to be over the top with humor. Adding a ton of jokes here and there to liven things up. Surprisingly, the film is still pretty serious the whole time. This does feel like it’s in the same universe as Batman V Superman and the whole opening is very grim. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if the whole film was like the Batman vs Parademons scene as it’s dark out the whole time, but that brings along its own set of risks I suppose. While some of the humor can be forced, it never becomes too distracting from the film. The characters are all pretty serious during the fights as well so it’s not as if they’re distracting themselves. The film handled the balance quite well.

Our next League member is Flash and naturally the TV show comparisons will start the instant he appears. I’m not sure how they could have gotten his design and costume so wrong with the big budget. The TV show’s version looks superior in every way. I can’t speak for the personality since I never saw the Flash, but from the clips I’ve seen he also seems like a much better character. This one looks too young and the fact that he is a novice with his powers can be pretty grating at times. He doesn’t even feel all that fast compared to Quicksilver from the recent X-Men films. Flash would get decimated in a fight if we base it on the movies and while the nerf is okay if the writers felt like they would be getting into plot hax moments like Quicksilver vs Apocalypse, it sort of defeats the purpose of the Flash to an extent. He needed to be more confident and self assured. We got glimpses of Flash being quite intelligent, but they were very subtle and he never even got to fight in the film. He barely threw a single punch until near the very end and those may have just been tackles since it seems like he vibrated through his opponents. He’s essentially a Peter Parker ripoff right now so I’m hoping he improves for next time.

Cyborg is the final main member and he’s all right. He comes across as annoying and whiny for a while though as he’s inflated with self importance. Maybe it’s because he starts off as a Cyborg, but you don’t feel any sympathy for him. He would have died if the parts weren’t merged with him so I don’t think he has a whole lot of room to complain. Now, the process did look painful so if he talked about that then maybe I could buy into it, but he spends the whole time complaining and feeling bad for himself. It’s one big pity party with this guy and his plan at the end was really flawed as well. Without going into detail, he said he could stop the boxes by doing a cool magnetic pulse and all. The thing is, apparently he needs someone to actually push them apart as well and the only way to even have a chance is if you have a guy with Superman-like abilities…and Superman wasn’t around. The plan was for him to do it himself..but how? There’s no way he could have done it so he effectively led the team on a suicide mission. I still think of Cyborg as a Teen Titan and this film didn’t change that, but now that he’s accepted his powers he should improve quite a lot.

Unfortunately Lois Lane was a big miss in this film. Her depression over Superman’s passing is used as the excuse for why she’s not a daring reporter anymore, but this also doesn’t really work well with her character. While she’s never been all that great in this series, at least she took a lot of risks like in BVS where she went to get the spear or in Man of Steel where she broke into an alien ship. In this film she has completely given up on everything and has been reduced to a weak character. Her role is very small anyway, but it’s definitely not the Lois that I expected. Martha Kent is all right I guess, but none of her dialogue is particularly funny or heart warming despite that being the intent. The scenes of Martha and Lois chatting was easily the worst part of the film since it just felt like filler and didn’t add anything to the movie. You would basically just wait for the scenes to be over so we can get back to the plot. Fortunately this film was good at constantly shifting from scene to scene so you were usually not in one place for too long.

A human subplot that was actually decent was the family hiding in a cabin. Granted, this was also complete filler but at least it showed that some people were ready to defend themselves. The plot didn’t end exactly how I pictured with Superman showing up to save them and all, but it was still okay and didn’t last too long. Steppenwolf is basically the only villain in the film. He’s a miss as far as personality is concerned, but he’s a strong fighter which makes for an engaging antagonist. Not too many fighters use an axe so that was cool. He was really creaming the League and just about everyone else he fought aside from a certain hero. He definitely lived up to his hype and I’m eager to see how the films portray Darkseid. So far they’ve been very good at making the villains both strong and fast. I don’t think he will be an exception so Superman vs Darkseid could very well be the greatest fight in live action if handled right.

I do have to question the Amazonian tactics near the beginning though. So, they know that the box is vibrating and they also know more or less that it’s a bad sign since they fought the owners a thousand years ago. Naturally the Queen posts a few guards by it…and then sends the rest of the army to the other side of the island. Why would you do that? I think even a kid could have told you that you leave most of your army by the box that spells imminent danger. As a result, Steppenwolf tears through the few warriors that guards it. Showing her bravery, the Queen deserts her fellow sisters to get the box away and locks the cave behind her to seal their fate. Steppenwolf still destroys just about everyone as he grabs the box and leaves, but would he have fared as well against a whole army? I think he probably would have shredded them all pretty easily, but since the film played it off like the army was a threat, I think it was a tactical blunder.

The Atlanteans were just as bad and only left a few scrubs to block the box. Steppenwolf wrecked them pretty easily and ran off. Honestly the humans were the ones putting up the best effort when you think about it. At first I was also skeptical of how they beat Steppenwolf in the past as well, but since they had a lot of guest stars helping then I was fine with it. I was convinced once the flying warrior showed up and even more when the gods of old turned up. Lets face it, they did all of the work. The Atlanteans, Humans, and Amazonians were just there for moral support.

I can’t say that I cared for the action scenes where Steppenwolf was wrecking those two armies either. It’s just never very fun to have a big character crushing a ton of powerless ones unless it’s a character you really like or something. As I’m not a Steppenwolf fan, you’re just waiting for a hero to show up so it’ll be a fair fight. Then you just keep on waiting until the fight is eventually over.

So, how high does this film rank in the all time list? Well, it’s definitely below Batman V Superman and I’d put it under Man of Steel as well. After that, it’s close between this one and Avengers for third. I think this one will edge out so Avengers grabs the 4th spot and Civil War grabs number 5 which rounds out my Top 5 Live Action CBMs of all time. What gives this one the edge for 3rd are essentially the action scenes since the one thing Avengers lacked was any big fights. Again, it’s an underrated edge for DC as their fight scenes cannot be beaten.

There are two after credit scenes. Surprisingly the first one is the happy comedy one instead of vice versa. Probably a way for DC to be different from Marvel. It’s a decent scene even if it goes nowhere and the film was playing it too safe. We all know that the guy on the right who scrunched up his face during the scene won because he was taking it very seriously. The 2nd scene gets some setup going for future DC films. It should make for a pretty good plot although I definitely want Darkseid for film 2. The problem with having other villains is that I’m going to be asking the real questions the whole time…how can they handle Superman? Black Adam would solve that equation, but everyone else would get lolstomped inside 2 seconds. Especially since Superman has been heavily amped from his already impressive Man of Steel portrayal.

This is a pretty long review as it is. The thoughts keep on piling up but this review would be way too long if I jotted it all down. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss something in more detail. As for miscellaneous thoughts, one area where Avengers does have the edge is in the fact that the characters were already established. As a result, it felt like a huge crossover since all of the characters were crossing over. It merged at 4 films, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. This one in comparison only merged two, Batman/Superman and Wonder Woman. The other League members debuted in this film so it wasn’t as big and since they were newbies who hadn’t yet had their own film to save the world, they weren’t as impressive as they should be. Marvel’s formula is certainly the right one to building up a team film, but I am ultimately glad DC skipped a few steps because I don’t want to wait 5 more years for the first Justice League. Now that this one has finally been made, we can start expanding the universe more. I wouldn’t even mind if DC forgot about the spinoffs and decided to just focus on churning out Justice League film after film. It would be a pretty unique way to go about it and I’d be on board.

While a few horses certainly seemed to get hit during the battle with Steppenwolf, the film at least had the dignity to not have them be bleeding or crying out in pain. The film was actually surprisingly tame throughout and that’s something I have to give it credit for. There is some language but it’s all very mild for the film. We get one or two mild fanservice shots for Wonder Woman but the film also managed to restrain itself in this area and at least we didn’t have random bath scenes like in BVS. On the whole you can see that this film didn’t really have any major negatives which is essential to being known as an amazing film. Most of the minor stuff I listed above barely even register on the scale. Even the boring scenes or jokes that may not have been funny weren’t bad enough either. The film was very close to being perfect and while I can think of alternate plots that would have been more fun (Like Superman being around during the whole film) the movie did a great job with what it had. Perhaps the gaps of no action will be more noticeable in a re-watch, but maybe not. As a huge DC fan I was pretty invested from start to finish and I imagine this would be the case on a re-watch as well. What can I say, at the end of the day, I’m a big fan of the Justice League so naturally I’ll get an extra kick out of this film. It’s also why I’m a little more critical on it at times, but I think I did a good job of still keeping a very positive tone on it throughout this review. At the end of the day, all films can be a little bit better, but if it’s a 7 or higher, it means that I am satisfied with the result. (Even more so with a 9)

Overall, This was a great film. Once Superman showed up, it became an amazing one. Honestly, Superman’s depiction in terms of strength was enough for me to know that this would be one of the all time greats. He’s my favorite comic book character and I’ve always considered him to quite easily be the strongest character of all as well. DC has continued to surpass my expectations when it comes to fights and power levels. They are simply unmatched and when you have a character like Superman that just makes a lot of sense. I highly recommend checking this film out. It may not be quite as intense as Batman vs Superman or Man of Steel, but it did get the end of the world vibe just right. Something is always happening and the atmosphere is always tense. I will eagerly await the next Justice League or Superman film. It’ll also be nice to see if DC can save Aquaman and Flash in future films, but I feel like sticking to films where Superman can show his stuff is the safest option.

Overall 9/10

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The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Review

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It’s always sad when you’re known as a chicken among the community. Just think of how rough it would be when it’s a small community so you are going to be seeing the same people everywhere. Well, that’s the case for our lead in this film (Luther) as everyone openly mocks him. It’s almost admirable how despite this he keeps adding for fuel to the flame. Panicking in the opening minutes certainly didn’t help his case.

Well, the film starts off with our reporter in training driving down Main Street at night. He hears someone scream and comes across a dead body. The excitement starts to overwhelm him but before he can faint the main character stumbles over to the newspaper office/police office. Luther tries to explain what’s happening but goes hysterical so his colleagues have to insult and mock him a little bit to calm him down. Just as he tells them all about the murder, the “dead” guy shows up as he was apparently just hit on the head with a branch and fainted.

Now Luther’s reputation has shattered even more. The newspaper is on tough times though so they need a scoop and have to take a break from mocking the main character. Their best bet is to send someone into the haunted house. Luther is essentially dared into going inside and he decides to do so to show everyone that he isn’t a total chicken. The problem is that ghosts keep messing with him and he even faints. On the verge of tears he tells everyone what happened, but can he prove that this was the case or will he also be known as a liar now?

It’s definitely a really fun film. You don’t really see comedy films like this one anymore and it’s a shame since they work so well. You can’t sympathize with Luther but I suppose you can at least sympathize with the fact that he held his own in court and wasn’t humiliated as badly as I had thought he would be. He doesn’t do a great job of improving himself at all and is basically content with going through the same motions that he’s always gone through. It’s why he is perfect for the role.

Ollie is definitely a pretty mean character who tries to undercut Luther at every corner. Still, he never gets too extreme and due to the nature of the film he can be pretty entertaining. If the plot was handled seriously then there is a good chance that he wouldn’t be likable at all but as it stands he was probably the best character in the film. You can make the case that he has more reason to dislike Luther than the other way around since from his point of view Luther took the main heroine away. Ollie also did offer to go into the haunted house with Luther, even if it was only to mock him.

An underrated character is the head of the newspaper company. Not only is he one of the only characters who gives Luther a chance but he even defends the guy in court. Honestly you’ll just feel bad for him since he does a great job but then Luther keeps on sabotaging him. The supporting cast was just really good in this film and naturally that makes a big difference. The judge was also pretty fun and it made the scene of everyone going into the haunted house pretty fun. Actually it was pretty surreal to see the Judge come up with that plan.

As for the ghost moments, I think it was safe to say that everyone probably guessed what the last second stinger would be. Ignoring that little moment I would have definitely said that there was nothing supernatural about the place. It was all things that could have been explained naturally after all. Even the painting although you have to suspend a lot of belief for Luther not noticing the blood would be fake. Well, it is Luther I guess.

The plot with the corporate gangster trying to muscle in on the place and discredit Luther was a cool contrast since that plot was played completely seriously, the guy wasn’t afraid to destroy Luther either if necessary which made for an intense final fight. You rarely see these rich business types actually enter the realm of combat themselves nowadays so that was certainly unexpected. It helped give the film some action to balance out the comedy and it worked quite well.

I have to say that the romance was pretty weak though and the only underwhelming part of the film. For starters, Alma was seemingly already taken with the rival Ollie but it didn’t stop Luther from flirting and hoping they could be together. Sure, later on in the film she says that they weren’t really together and all, but given how the had apparently been eating lunch every day, driving together, and Ollie had been calling her things like Sweetheart which she was fine with….it seemed rather clear what was going on. Even Ollie was shocked when she basically ditched him out of nowhere. It’s nice for Luther that if all worked out but this is definitely not how you build a romance. It really just fell flat and took up too much time.

Overall, This was a really fun film. The humor was on point and the cast was pretty good. The tension of whether the mansion was really haunted or not will be tearing you up inside until they announce the verdict. Ollie is a fun rival and gets a lot of standout lines while Luther’s panicking is always pretty intense. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend it. It’s not the most popular movie out there but it can definitely hold its own against any big comedy film.

Overall 7/10

Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review

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Paper Mario has always been pretty ambitious for a Mario series. The plots could get pretty serious and were certainly darker than the main series as they selves into Luigi’s psyche and had Peach turn evil. The Thousand Year Door was the peak of the series and could hold its own as an rpg against the mainstream ones like Final Fantasy. Then….this game came out. It’s basically a Mario game masquerading as a Paper Mario title.

The plot is paper thin compared to the old ones as Peach is kidnapped. Bowser has taken her away to his castle and Mario is going to need some help if he wants to save her this time. Fortunately he had a pal named Kersti who is some kind of Princess I think. I can’t remember to be honest but she talks a really good game and insults anyone who gets in her way. She reminds Mario that he will need to obtain the 6 World Crown Stickers to save the world and stop Bowser’s evil plan once and for all. Can Mario do it or will he end up panicking throughout the entire game!?

Right away the game’s main problem presents itself in the form of the stickers. Not only is the entire game built around them, but the mechanics aren’t even fun. You need them to perform any kind of action in combat from jumping to using your hammer. This means you really do need to take the time to pluck them off the walls or you’ll run out during a boss fight. The stage will throw you a few extra ones when you’re empty but only cheap stickers that won’t do a lot of damage. This gets very tedious very quickly. It doesn’t help that the bosses have an enormous amount of hp so the fights drag on for eternity. That’s also why running out of stickers becomes a legitimate concern since you will need a lot of stickers to finish them off.

The final boss in particular has around 5 phases and keeps healing between each phase. This just drags on the fight more and more as opposed to being exciting. You can’t jump on this opponent either so even though I made it to the final phase with a lot of stickers left, I couldn’t do anything. None of my jumps would do anything but hurt me and so I had to watch as my efforts went to waste. The game is built around trial and error to a large extent which is certainly not how a game should be if you ask me. You should be able to reasonably guess what to expect and win if you thought about it enough as opposed to just needing more stickers from the shop.

You’ll likely need to farm some coins at one point or another so I’d recommend 4-1 for that. There’s a shiny goomba right when you enter the level and a ice flower in the box next to him. Grab the flower and you can beat him in one hit which will get you around 100 coins. You can do this very quickly so just keep at it. I saved to about 2500 coins for the final boss and it was certainly worth it. The super stickers do have cutscenes that are unskippable which is unfortunate but they are worth it for the damage they dish out.

Another massive problem with the game are the puzzles. You probably know this if you’ve been reading my reviews but one thing I’m really not a big fan of are poorly made puzzles. It’s to the point where they can easily lower a game’s score on their own like Final Fantasy VII, Metroid, and Majora’s Mask. The same thing happens here but to a larger extent. Some puzzles require you to go all the way back from world 5 to 2 for example as you look for an ice sticker that can freeze the volcano. I had to resort to Gamefaqs a few times here because these puzzles are absolutely terrible. How could you possibly think to search a new world? Why would the ice be in the desert world instead of…..the ice world? The game is actively trying to troll you which I don’t appreciate and there are so many puzzles here that don’t make any sense. I think the only way you would figure some of these out is if you were planning to 100% the game anyway so you investigate every book and cranny. Even then, the same thing happens with the bosses as you have to try and figure out how to deal with them. My sticker “pal” mocked me after every fight as she pointed out that I used too many stickers so certainly don’t use my tactics.

This game just wasn’t all that fun and it’s a shame because the gameplay minus the stickers was good. Some of the levels had a little platforming so you would jump around and try to reach the goal. It gives you a small glimpse of what the game could have been like without the odd gameplay style. It also makes you wonder what the point of the stickers was because at the end of the day it is still basically a turn based style of gameplay. It’s just far more limited than the usual ones since you always have to worry about running out of stickers which is a really pointless feature. Throw out all of the many, many puzzles and this could maybe will be a good game even with the sticker system. Of course, then we are looking at a completely different game since this one was really built with all of those puzzles in mind.

As far as the characters are concerned, this Mario game plays it by the books. Mario is your classic lead who is always ready for a good time but really does panic at just about everything. Peach gets kidnapped as per usual, but gives a pretty nice speech at the end so that was cool. Bowser essentially gets controlled by the stickers so it wasn’t his best appearance. Seeing all of the old bosses was pretty cool like Gooper Blooper and Petey Piranha. Bowser Jr and Kamek also has pretty solid roles. The main heroine Kersti was also pretty decent even if she was rather generic the whole time. The big sacrifice at the end was certainly a pretty emotional moment when you think about it. Mario didn’t really put up much resistance to the plan but I guess we can assume that he knew about the true power of the stickers and figured it would all work out. The climax was pretty intense and in a main Mario game it would have looked awesome since Mario effectively got Super Saiyan mode at long last. If you ask me, it’s about time.

As far as the presentation goes, Paper Mario’s graphics hold up pretty well. They’re certainly. not amazing or anything like that, but they are good enough and get the job done. The character models are solid and the level environments are pretty striking as well. It’s a oh as good as I’d expect a modern Paper Mario game to look. The soundtrack is certainly less impressive compared to the average Mario games but it’s not bad. At the very least the main menu theme is quite iconic after hearing it so many times. I’m not likely to forget it anytime soon.

In terms of the replay value Paper Mario is fairly decent. There is a set amount of large stickers to obtain so gathering them all would be an accomplishment. You can also try to find Luigi in his 5 appearances which will hopefully trigger some kind of cutscene. The main game is around 15 hours of more if you get stuck so that’s a very good amount right off the bat as well. So technically there is a lot to do here but you probably just won’t be all that tempted to accomplish all of this since the fun factor isn’t quite there. The post game is st least more enjoyable than the main game since the puzzles are already taken care of. It becomes a little more of a straight job from start to finish while you complete everything. Prepare for a lot of back and forth either way.

Overall, it’s rare for me to say that a game is actually bad. Over 90% of the games I’ve reviewed at least make it to 5 and most are over 6. This one just goes way too far with the sticker mechanics and the problem that the game isn’t fun. It’s not really a title that you look forward to playing which is the problem. It has its moments but every time you think the game is hitting its stride it comes back at you with another puzzle. They just keep on coming and never stop so the game could not save itself. I highly recommend playing the other Paper Mario games first as this one will really give you the wrong impression of the series. I can only hope that the next Paper Mario game has improved a lot from this one.

Overall 4/10

Thor: Ragnarok Review

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The MCU has been consistently been getting better as the phases go by. Captain America 2 was better than 1 and 3 was better than 2. Thor 2 was better than 1 and now this latest Thor film has arrived and is the best film in the trilogy. It’s a very fast paced film with a lot of action and hype throughout. It also does a great job of showing how great of a fighter Thor is with or without his hammer. It’s going to be hard for the next Thor film to top this one.

The film starts off with Thor seemingly being held captive by Surtur. Of course, the whole thing is basically just a ruse to get information. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since think we all found it highly unlikely that Thor can be bound by mere chains. Unfortunately Thor has not stopped Ragnarok by defeating Surtur as the true source of despair shows up. Hela is the goddess of death and her abilities are the real deal as she easily beats Thor and Loki. Thor is going to have to form his own team to defeat her.

The heroes definitely get around in this film as Thor goes to Earth, Surtur’s Domain, Asgard, and the Grandmaster’s planet. It’s fun to see all of the different locales as they all worked quite well. The weakest one design-wise would be Grand Master’s HQ, but the arena looked quite good. Earth may win out since it was great to have a Dr.Strange cameo. He looked really good in that scene and they’re definitely building him up to be one of the team’s power hitters. He’s also one of my favorite Avengers in the MCU so I’m ready to see him get more of a role. He’ll have to keep his list handy since a lot of threats are certainly coming to Earth in the near future.

Thor has a lot of fun in this film as he openly mocks the villains and just tries to enjoy everything he does. He’s a good lead and this is probably the best that he’s been portrayed. He’s a lot wiser than he used to be while still keeping his strength. This is Thor as a leader in addition to being a warrior and it makes him a more complete character. Seeing him fight off an army at the end without his hammer was definitely impressive. It’ll be very hard for me to get used to his new hairstyle though. I’m going to miss the old one until it grows back, but it’s not the worst redesign I’ve seen as it’s still miles above the Joker.

Going back to Thor having fun though, it keeps showing how Marvel is just good at writing comedy. The Iron-Man films have always been pretty fun as the humor is just handled well and this film does a great job with it as well. It’s not forced and most of the jokes land. The only film I can think of in the MCU that failed at being even remotely funny was Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Age of Ultron could be really forced at times, but it was still entertaining, it would just throw you our of the movie for a second. As DC is trying to emulate Marvel with their current movies, hopefully they’ve been taking notes. Wonder Woman wasn’t funny and Justice League’s jokes don’t really seem to be working, but it’s possible they’ll turn it around in the film or by the sequel. It takes time to be funny and writing jokes has always been the hardest part of developing a script if you ask me. That’s why it’s not really a problem as long as the jokes aren’t downright terrible, but if there are a bunch in the movie, then you want them to be good. Again, Thor: Ragnarok did a really good job with this.

Loki was a fun ally to have around. Naturally you can’t trust him at all and the film’s pretty self aware on that, but at least it meant Thor didn’t have to be alone the whole time. It’s always good to have at least one companion on a journey. He didn’t look quite as impressive as usual though since everyone he meets ends up beating him up quite badly. He really took his lumps in this film but always manages to keep his confidence. I’d really be on board with him finally being an ally, not a hero as that’ll never happen, but someone who helps out once in a while and doesn’t try to destroy the world.

Now I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan. He’s a decently good character and all, but I typically just like him in his more intelligent depictions. The only exceptions are some of the really old Stan Lee era comics where he was pretty sympathetic. The film has a good portrayal of him. He’s not too annoying or anything and can put up a good fight. The writer seems to definitely know who he thinks is the stronger fighter (Thor or Hulk) and I tend to agree with him. Brute strength is great and all, but when you’re about as strong and have a variety of other techniques at your disposal, it’s game set and match. Surprisingly the film gives Hulk a backseat role for the entire climax as he doesn’t get to face off against Hela or anything, but it’s a good way to ensure he doesn’t steal the show or get humiliated in front of his fans. It was not what I expected from his role, but it worked well enough.

Unfortunately, this is probably Bruce Banner’s worst portrayal. He’s really slow on the uptake and panics about everything. He is constantly in a state of shock and just holding everyone back. You almost can’t help but wish for the Hulk to return and maybe this is why Hulk wants to stay out 24/7. It’s also interesting how each side can’t remember anything after they turn so for Bruce it’s like 2 years passed in an instant. That’s actually pretty tragic so I should feel more sympathetic for Bruce…but I don’t. I miss his self assured/over confident version from the first Avengers film. I will always look to that as the definitive Bruce Banner portrayal. The only other one that’s close is from the Indestructible Hulk mini series.

Valkyrie is the main heroine of the film and fulfills the role pretty well. She actually doesn’t get on board with the heroes until near the end of the film so her role isn’t huge or anything but she’s pretty tough. Balancing fighting and drinking is tough but she manages to pull it off. I can’t say that I was a huge fan of hers since her backstory basically involves being a traitor and turning evil. You’re sort of supposed to look past all of that, but it’s a little tricky and I think she would have worked better as a villain like Loki who occasionally helps the heroes. I give the film major props for not going for a romance angle here though. I’m sure the writers were pressured by Hollywood into doing this, but they refused.

Heimdall has his own filler subplot where he beats up a bunch of minions and helps guard the Asgardian survivors. He’s a good character even if he doesn’t get much of a role here. He’s the kind of character who makes more of an impact if you’ve seen the first two films. Since this is the 3rd one, there’s no excuse not too. I miss his classic armor, but his new Bishop redesign works quite well and he lasted quite a while considering how outnumbered he was.

Hela is the main villain and also the best character of the film. She’s a great villain because her goal isn’t crazy or just evil. It’s a pretty rational goal as taking over the multiverse makes sense to prove your supremacy. I can get behind that and I can also buy into her taking over Asgard since it is hers by birthright. She looks extremely impressive in all of her fights. I would have liked a longer round 1 fight with Thor and Loki but seeing them fight while on the light speed tunnel was certainly entertaining. I’m also glad that Thor didn’t back up when they all started hyping her up. As long as you stay on Hela’s good side you’re okay since she doesn’t seem to be in the habit of randomly destroying her minions for no reason. She may very well be the best villain in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point although I’m expecting big things from Thanos.

Scourge is her right hand man and he gets his own emotional character arc. He starts off as the guy that everyone pushes around and eventually levels up to janitor. I liked him well enough at the beginning I guess, but he’s just not my kind of character. He’s one of the weak links, but his actual scenes aren’t bad so it’s not like he hurts the film. I just didn’t care enough about him to be sympathetic. Surtur appears for a bit and gets his own fight scene, but he’s definitely not as impressive as he was in the comics. Everyone basically uses him the whole time and I have to wonder what his ultimate plan is. He better appear in Thor 4 or I’m going to have to remember him as the villain to have the worst plan in the MCU. He may not have thought it over very carefully.

The Grandmaster was interesting and way better than the Collector. It helps that his actor makes the character pretty entertaining as opposed to simply being quirky. There’s a big difference between the two and you always want to be the former as opposed to the latter. He’s definitely a villain through and through but tries to hide his evil intent through jokes. Hey, if Spiderman can do it for the heroes, why not have a villain with that gimmick as well? It does make sense after all and he was a fun guy to have around. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Korg is one of the quirky supporting characters from the Arena. While I didn’t find his voice quite as hilarious as by theater seemed too (They laughed at just about every one of his lines) it did work pretty well for the character. It’s been a while since we got a very to the point character who speaks softly but always manages to keep everyone in check. Definitely the best portrayal of Korg in all of Marvel. Stan (The Man) Lee also shows up to clean shop. His cameo may be quick, but he really sets the tone in his appearance and also shows that he fears no one. You have to have nerves of steel to have his job after all.

Ragnarok’s soundtrack is absolutely great. The themes are all very sci-fi and fast paced. They help to amplify the fight scenes and make the whole film better. Good music helps make a scene more memorable so as you would expect it also has the same effect on the movie as a whole. Most films don’t insert a big song when a fight scene starts. It’s a popular trope in anime but that’s about it despite this being a fantastic way of building up energy for the scene. Well, Thor pulls it off for both the first and last fight. The last fight in particular is handled extremely well as Thor gets one last vision of a certain character and then unlocks his true power. Aside from maybe Avengers and even that is close, Thor definitely has the best soundtrack in the MCU and is high up there for all of Marvel’s theater films.

The action and effects are certainly on point. The monsters of the fire world certainly looked very impressive and it made for a very good opening fight. Surtur’s design was modernized for the new age and while he was rather skinny I still liked it well enough. Hela’s fight scenes were solid as well and her costume was very faithful to the comics. Thor’s style of combat with his electricity will remind you a lot of Cole McGrath or Starkiller and it’s certainly the most efficient way to fight. When you’re using electricity to enhance your range and strength, it is very hard to dodge or counter that. Now that Thor can fight at this level the only Avenger who can reasonably give him a good fight would be Dr. Strange. I don’t think the others could keep up.

Naturally the film has a scene after the credits so make sure you stick around. There are 2 scenes, but the first one is really the only one you need to worry about. It’s easily one of the best post movie scenes in the MCU as we finally have a significant plot development here which works as a great tease for Infinity War. It’s hard to imagine that the big crossover film is so close, but it is certainly approaching fast. It’s also why it makes sense to beef up the Avengers roster since they’re going to need all the help they can get. I’m not sure how some of the street level fighters will be useful, but maybe they can at least distract the villains with one liners while the real fighters take them down.

Now, there is a little plot hax at the end. It’s nothing major but the final fight’s outcome should have been reversed. On one side we have a giant opponent who is extremely slow and can only attack in a straight line. On the other we have a very nimble fighter who can move quite fast and also has a lot of durability. All the character needed to do was move just a little bit and that would have worked as a dodge. I mean, the planet may not be too stable so surviving some intense energy would still have to happen, but I think the character could pull it off. At the very least, losing due to ring out would have been preferable. I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free so I’ll keep that part vague.

I’d like to say that I’ve covered everything, but with a film this big there will always be something that I’ve missed. As far as the MCU films go, It’s easily top 5. Avengers is better and I’ll also give Civil War the edge but this very well could be the third best film. Age of Ultron gives it a run for its money, but I dare say that Thor beats both Winter Soldier and Spider-Man Homecoming. Either way, it confirms that Thor is certainly top 5 and we’ll see how long it can stay there if Marvel keeps raising the bar. I’m still hoping they go all out with Infinity War and have just about everyone appear. Bring in the old villains, Agents of Shield, even throw the Netflix crew a bone with a portrait on the wall or some kind of cameo. Make this the big event that it should be.

Overall, The film was just about perfect. There’s not much to really say about the film in the negatives department. It did pretty well with keeping the power levels consistent. Not perfect, but basically no film is. I felt bad for the poor dragon who fought Thor, but at least the film didn’t destroy Fenfir as in my head canon he can certainly survive a fall. That was nice. Thor himself has also come a long way since the older films and makes a few speeches about what it means to be a hero. The action scenes are first rate and the graphics are quite good. The film’s also just a lot of fun the whole time and has a ton of replay value. It’s not everyday that you get a film as satisfying as this one. I teetered between an 8 or a 9 for this film for a while, but at the end of the day I think it definitely earns the extra star.

Overall 9/10

Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs Peel Review

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Batman 66 comics have always been pretty fun in the past. They have a nice balance of action and wit to keep you guessing throughout the adventure. That’s why I was surprised when this one actually didn’t turn out to be all that good. It’s still fun for the Batman and Robin scenes, but the artwork took a huge nosedive and the characters that the heroes get to meet aren’t too interesting this time around. Considering that these crossovers are quite limited with how many can be produced at a time, it’s a bit of a shame that we wasted one on these guys.

The comic starts off with Catwoman deciding to steal a large diamond. Bruce Wayne and a rich lady happen to be in the area so Catwoman goes after them next. With the lady’s tough talk and banter throughout, I figured that she was Mrs Peel. No, the real Steed and Mrs Peel show up shortly afterwards to try and handle the situation. Robin and Alfred (Dressed as Batman appear as well so the villains are corralled quite nicely. It turns out that this is a bigger plot that is being led by the villains of the Avengers series.

That is really Steed and Mrs Peel’s only cling to fame by the way. The series they are from is actually called The Avengers so at least it sounds impressive to the average comic reader. Their main villains seem to be a large organization that uses Cybernauts (Androids) to do their evil bidding. These cybernauts are now going to destroy the world once they get the diamonds so Batman and Robin have to stop them.

Here’s why the crossover doesn’t work very well. If you thought that the two men from Uncle weren’t too useful, these chaps are even worse. All they do is bicker and banter throughout their appearances. They don’t really contribute at all except for moments where you figure that Batman and Robin should have had the situation under control anyway. They made for rather boring characters in the story and couldn’t really keep your attention. At the very least, that’s why I couldn’t really get behind these guys. I didn’t really warm up to them by the end either. They had a convenient habit of forgetting everything about the villains until Batman and Robin would find out first. By then it’s not as if it really mattered.

One of the good moments of the comic was when the Cybernauts broke into the Batcave. Of course it was the guest stars’ fault again as they didn’t notice that the villains had bugged them. Still, it was pretty intense since I don’t believe a villain had ever gotten inside before in this continuity. Batman and Robin did a good job of holding the fort even against overwhelming odds. The Cybernauts actually have potential as they are henchmen that are actually pretty dangerous in a fight. You can’t say that about most henchmen.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier the art is pretty bad. Until now the Batman ’66 comics have all looked really good. This one looks very rough around the edges and the art style is really no good at all. The character designs are all wrong and the fight scenes suffer as a result. The comic now has to thrive purely on the dialogue. The writing is pretty strong as you’d expect so at the very least that does help the comic quite a bit. I think this author actually liked Robin more than the rest because he looks good for a change. He gives Batman a few ideas and even saves the day once or twice. He’s portrayed as being fairly close to an equal in this adventure so his fans will like that. Batman still looks like the capable leader he always is as well. He’s just more open to suggestions this time around.

The comic had a decent misdirect with the rich lady from the beginning, but once you knew that she wasn’t Mrs Peel it was pretty clear that she had to be one of the villains. Batman was a little too emotionally attached though considering that they barely knew her. He didn’t take the twist very well although I suppose he put up a decent front. Most of the characters didn’t suspect a thing. Mrs Peel finding out his secret identity was a little iffy, but I suppose that usually happens in crossovers for the mutual hype for both franchises.

Overall, This may not have been the best Batman ’66 comic, but the series does set a high bar. It’s still as reasonably entertaining comic and I’d recommend it if you’ve already read the rest of the issues. It had some decent fights and Batman’s always a fun main character. Beyond that, I’d still never recommend this over any of the other volumes to be honest. The crossover just didn’t work and at the end of the day that takes away a considerable amount of the hype behind the volume. I’m still ready for more Batman 66 crossovers though and the only one left is where they meet Wonder Woman. That should certainly be a great team up so it’ll be fun to read it some day.

Overall 6/10

Why Mario Odyssey is better than Sonic Forces

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2017 has been a pretty stacked year when it comes to video games. At the same time, many figured that Mario Odyssey would win the title of Game of the Year, or perhaps Sonic Forces would get to claim it. I wrote an editorial a while back about how Sonic Forces would certainly claim victory. Here’s a link to that original article if you’re curious.

https://dreager1.com/2017/08/20/why-sonic-forces-is-going-to-be-better-than-mario-odyssey/

Unfortunately, I hadn’t expected the game to get skimmed down all the way to 3 hours. It’s just too short to really compete with Odyssey but let’s break this down.

When it comes to the story, Sonic still destroys Mario. We have an end of the world plot going with a hype new villain called Infinite. In comparison, Mario has the same ole Bowser kidnaps Peach plot which is neither fresh nor imaginative. It’s a plot that we have all seen many times before to the point where it is fairly stale. It’s just not the kind of story that excites you anymore and the game even pulls a cop out for the ending to keep the status quo. In this area at least, Sonic Forces stil claims the win.

Now let’s look at the graphics. Well, this one is a pretty close one. Both games look pretty solid. Mario is top of the line for Nintendo and they spared no expense for him. On the other hand, Sonic Forces doesn’t look quite as good as it should considering that it’s on the PS4 but it does have a nice advantage of being on the stronger console from the start. It also has more explosions and better level designs to really use the graphics. Odyssey does look a little better on the whole, Sonic Forces is just more striking to look at. This is purely for graphics though so Odyssey wins here.
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When it comes to gameplay, Sonic has 3 different styles while Mario has just one. Mario’s does beat retro Sonic’s gameplay style but loses to the Avatar and Modern Sonic. You just can’t beat Boost 2 Win and It would have been cool for Mario to have been able to do that when running around the worlds. It’s pretty close though and the difference is relative since both games have really solid gameplay.

Now at this point it probably seems like Sonic is demolishing Mario so what’s the problem right? Well, one of the big areas that hurts Sonic is the length/replay value. The main story will only take you 3 hours in Forces. After that you need to get all of the S Ranks and obtain all of the rings. This will buy you some time, but not a whole lot. Moreover, thanks to the daily login bonus, getting S Ranks is really easy in this game. You can definitely 100% this game in a week if you don’t mind some grinding for the enemies and coins. On the other hand, Mario’s main campaign is at least double of not triple as long. Grabbing all of the moons in the post game and completing the new worlds will take quite a few more hours as well. You’re likely looking at a 20-30+ hour game right there. It’s a world of difference and this is crucial for a game. You don’t want to drop 40-60 dollars on a game that you will play and then immediately throw back in the drawer. You want a game with a lot of replay value and that’s exactly what Odyssey is. It’s the game that keeps on giving. The sheer amount of content and minigames in Odyssey puts Forces to shame.
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You can’t really stress this enough. I’ve put in over 35 hours in Mario Odyssey and there are still a bunch of moons to get. I’ve already gotten all of the S ranks in Sonic Forces and around half of the Red Rings in a third of the time or potentially even less than that. It’s just not an equal ball game when you’re looking at the content. It’s not as if being long makes you an automatically better game, but when you’re a solid game that also happens to be long, then it’s a winning combo. It’s even more lethal to the short game when it’s only around 3 hours long.

Mario Odyssey will likely last close to 50 hours by the time all of the Moons have been obtained which is definitely very impressive. It’s also less repetitive than getting everything in Forces since in that game you have to keep replaying the same levels over and over again. It doesn’t really get old since the levels are so well done and the soundtrack is so awesome, but it still feels like a shortcut by the devs. In Mario, you have a lot of variety among the worlds for finding Moons so it never becomes a big issue of repetition. I can only hit this point for so long though so this editorial is coming to a close.

So when it all boils down to the center of the game, Odyssey is simply better. Sonic Forces may sound better than Odyssey but that’s not the issue. It may be more fun to play as Avatar and Modern Sonic as their gameplay modes both destroy Odyssey’s but that’s also not the point. Odyssey has the slightly better graphics. You have to forget about the plot and the technical aspects and just look at the replay value. Mario’s the longer game and you really feel like you’ve spent your money’s worth there. I don’t regret buying Sonic Forces since it was still an incredible game, but I certainly can’t reward the developers with the same stamp of approval that I can give Odyssey since they really didn’t give it enough effort. So, Sonic Forces is the more enjoyable game, but Mario Odyssey is the better game and actually managed to defeat Sonic this time around. It may seem like Mario only won in one area (length) while Forces had the advantage just about everywhere else, but it’s a very important advantage and one that you can’t overlook. It’s shocking for Sonic to lose and and I have to keep asking myself if this is really the answer since this basically never happens and I’m a little worried, but 3D Sonic shall return. You can tell how confident his fans are because even if you google things like “Mario beating Sonic” you get more pictures of the reverse happening which made the images for this article a little difficult. It is quite fitting though that the time Mario finally manages to beat Sonic, it’s because they quickly went through their old Adventure 2 Battle memories and thought to do a Mario version. Food for thought!
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Infinite vs One Above All



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Have you ever wondered what a villain who was made of hype would look like? Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore because that is basically Infinite’s design. He’s easily one of the most intense video game characters to appear in the last few years and it’s about time that he joins the blog. The One Above All would be powerless to stop him and Infinite will win this match right away. The possibilities for winning are….infinite. Infinite wins.

Aang vs Korra


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Suggested by Eric This is definitely a pretty tough round. Both of these avatars have proven themselves in combat many times over. They’ve mastered all of the elements and can use the Avatar state. Korra seems to have gotten off to a faster start but by the end they were both very skilled. I’m inclined to say that Aang wins as his abilities just sound more impressive overall, but this is one of those fights that could easily change if I were to watch the show myself someday. Alternately, it could just cement Aang’s win even more. At the very least, I don’t see either of these two losing to any other Avatar characters. Aang wins.

John Constantine vs HIM


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Suggested by iKnowledge John Constantine is a skilled magic user, but one who isn’t quite as powerful as the heavy weights like Dr. Fate or Strange. He’s given a lot of cred since the guy knows the rules and can adapt to magic really quickly, but I wouldn’t want to have him around in a fight. HIM is a demon so John is in his area of expertise, but he’ll be too busy dodging lasers and trying not to get squashed to really do anything about the situation. He’s just outmatched in this fight and I don’t think he’ll be able to get on the offensive. HIM wins.