Freedom Planet Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly recent side scrolling game that I was able to nab for free on the Wii U thanks to the MyNintendo Rewards. I can’t say that I had ever heard of the game prior to getting it, but it’s considerably better than I expected. It’s not that I expected it not to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for the game to have such a satisfying plot with so many cutscenes. The voice acting also helped it excel to the next level. It’s a very complete game that has a solid amount of difficulty while always remaining fair and balanced.

The game starts off by assuming that you are familiar with the characters and the setting. That’s always a good approach and even though it would be impossible since this is the first game in the series, it shows that the writers already have a pretty good idea on the background behind the characters. I’m sure we’ll be learning quite a lot about them in the sequels. For now, what you need to know is that Lilac is the main character. She’s a powerful dragon who has the ability of super speed at her disposal. In an instant she can cross large distances like Sonic. When an alien crash lands on the planet and warns her that an alien invasion is coming Lilac prepares to help. The problem is that both kingdoms on her planet refuse to co-operate and her friends aren’t strong enough to help her. It’s time for Lilac to save the world!

The gameplay is your classic 2D side scroller. You run and jump as Lilac as you attempt to get through the level. These stages aren’t always linear though as you may have to go back and forth to find card keys or find where the true path is. Most games of this style put in a lot of pit falls to trip you up and that’s actually the main area where the 2D Sonic games tend to falter. This one makes no such mistakes and the only level where you even can fall is the final one. The rest are fine so you can just focus on speed blasting through it. As far as attacks go you can trow out a slicing attack, skyward uppercut, ground dive, and even a super charge. The charge gives you invincibility against almost any kind of attack and is really handy against bosses.

However, the best attack in the game is certainly your helicopter move. Just double tap the jump button to activate it and deal heavy damage. The move does have a lot of end lag though so against the final boss use it with caution. The bosses are all quite diverse with a lot of different attack patterns to memorize. The game doesn’t bother with recycled animations or levels the way that some games do. This one has a lot of heart and you can tell that the developers did everything they could with what they had on hand. The gameplay is just a blast and it’s easily one of the best 2D games I’ve played in a long time. In terms of sheer gameplay it even dominates popular franchises like Sonic, Kirby, and Yoshi. Mario’s still the best in the genre, but I dare say that this has a solid shot to be 2nd. Of course, it’s a little soon to be saying that after one game so we’ll see how the sequel holds up. Hopefully it is ported over to the MyNintendoRewards shop soon.

The graphics are very solid as well. The character designs are on point and the sprites are very polished. It’s the kind of game that is easy to look at and everything is clear so you always know where the obstacles are. The enemy designs are also a lot of fun. Even when there are a bunch of enemies on screen the game rarely lags which is quite impressive as well. We can’t forget about the soundtrack and that holds up just as nicely. The themes are all very fast paced and really get you into the heat of the moment. On a technical level this game doesn’t falter.

Then we get to the length of the game which is reasonable. It’ll take you around 4 hours to complete the game. Of those 4 hours around 1 hour will be comprised of cutscenes. As I mentioned earlier the story is quite extensive to be honest. Some levels have huge breaks in between them with the multiple cutscenes and they do a good job of getting you invested in the characters. There’a good amount of replay value here as you can play as Lilac’s two friends who have unique levels and a different story perspective. Maybe it would help you like them as much as Lilac although that seems doubtful. You can also try to collect all of the badges and cards which would likely take quite a long time to do.

Time to quickly talk about the characters. Lilac is a selfless hero who is always charging into danger. She feels that by jumping into the fray like this her friends won’t have to, but they aren’t happy about this since they have to bail her out. I agree with Lilac’s logic here even if the friends aren’t really on board. Every time they try to help they get taken hostage or something so Lilac taking point makes sense. Her dragon abilities also make her considerably powerful. She’s definitely the best character in the game.

Then we’ve got her best friend Carol. Carol is more about having fun than saving the world, but she’ll tag along with the lead to keep her out of trouble. Carol’s a decent character, but she does crack midway and basically ends up proving Lilac’s point about why she shouldn’t be involved in this. Carol can fight reasonably well though and makes for a good assist when she has finally calmed down. The only member of the trio that I didn’t care for was Milla. Milla is more of a kid than the others and gets rather scared by what is happening. The game may have plans for her, but she doesn’t have as much potential as the other two.

Torque is the alien who crash landed in the first place and I can’t say that I’m a fan of him either. The guy is constantly yelling at the natives to work together, but his planet was the first to lose so he can barely talk. He always seems prepared to destroy anything to stop the villains as well so I can’t really call him a hero. Add that to the fact that he isn’t useful in a fight and the guy is basically just around to slow everyone down.

Spade doesn’t get to do much here, but considering that he is the big rival I’m sure he will do more in a sequel. He seems to have a history with Lilac and his speed is on her level. I look forward to seeing him appear again soon and he is probably the only character who could possibly surpass Lilac. Finally we have Brevon who is the main villain. He’s certainly a brutal antagonist as he rips his opponents to shreds. I even feel bad for the prince that he mind controlled since the heroes never actually find this out so they end up beating him up and possibly destroying the prince since they thought he was just another villain. Brevon is certainly thorough when he conquers planets and is a very legitimate threat. He made for a great final boss, but getting on Lilac’s bad side was probably a big mistake here. There are other characters like the two governments but they weren’t quite as noteworthy. The body guard who was always talking back to Lilac seemed cool though. She would have made for a solid boss fight.

For one last point on the gameplay, I also liked the game’s continue system. Some games force you to restart the whole level when you get a game over, this one just sends you back to the check point. That’s definitely a good thing if you ask me since some levels are over 25 minutes long and doing the whole thing over again would have been quite the chore. Likewise if you die to a boss’ 3rd phase when you come back that’s the phase that you will start with. It helps make the difficulty a fun challenge as opposed to a tedious chore. With no huge punishment for losing you are able to experiment more.

Overall, Freedom Planet is definitely a really fun game. The plot is a lot of fun and I’m still impressed that there was full voice acting. Admittedly the sound did fluctuate quite a lot though so sometimes it was rather difficult to make out what was being said, but fortunately there are subtitles. Learning how to beat a boss through repetition is fun here and the game rewards defensive play in the meanwhile. If you rush in without a plan you aren’t very likely to succeed. Slow and steady wins the race. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend doing so. You will never look at the genre the same way again.

Overall 8/10

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Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women Review

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The Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women is one of those films where you have a pretty good idea of the quality of the title before watching it. This definitely isn’t a good film and manages to stay consistently weak in all areas. It doesn’t do much to try and make this a memorable adventure so at the end of the day you are just wondering what the end goal of the film was. We may never know.

The film starts with a bus full of people heading to a plane and realizing that taking to the air may not be such a good idea. This thought is confirmed as we cut to the present where a group of people are flying around the globe to try and cure someone’s eyes or he may die from the pain. Unfortunately they get lost thanks to the pilot not being very smart and they didn’t stock up on fuel either. They land on a mysterious island where the women and the men are out to destroy them. Can the heroes take their guns out in time or is it all over for them.

Right from the start you’ll see that the title is a little misleading. At the very least, you weren’t expecting a bunch of men to be running around right? Well, you’d be wrong. There’s a tribe of men that have been defeating the women left and right, destroying their shroud of Mystery in the process. The girls can’t actually fight that well as they just seem to panic whenever a guy appears who isn’t trying to surrender. It’s easy to see why they’ve been losing the war and so I have to blame this on their commander Lisbeth. (Spelled more like Lisabeth, but they never pronounce the a so I may as well not write it in..) She got drunk with power and is more concerned about destroying her own people than coming up with some good plans. Not a great leader to have on your side if you ask me.

The main characters aren’t much better though. The pilot is a drunk who has seen better days. He drinks up the whole supply so nobody else can use it as a pain reliever and then decides to take a nap in enemy territory. Safe to say that this was his final mistake. He just never became a good character. The body guard was reasonable I suppose since at least he could fight and is crucial in the getaway plan. He isn’t the most interesting of characters but he is good enough.

The guy with the injured eyes doesn’t get to do much more than yell from all of the pain. It certainly isn’t his most impressive showing either. The most interesting character is the really over expressive one. He is constantly yelling hypothetical questions in condescending tones throughout the film. He can never just say something, it is always a yell. I feel like his whole personality with that is rather unintentional but maybe he is supposed to be like that. At the very least, he was certainly trying hard to escape or make a deal. The constant panicking gives the film some form of tension even if it’s not enough to save the atmosphere.

Unfortunately we do get some painful romance with the main characters. It’s certainly sketchy since they point out multiple times that the women on this island stopped growing mentally a long time ago. It seems iffy to start a romance under those circumstances as their only other experience with it up to this point has not been pleasant. The romance never really feels balanced and the film definitely should have avoided this land mine. The film also delves into gritty territory with the whole plot of having the men involved. We really didn’t need the movie to go there and the film should have just been about the women as the hunters, not the hunted. Any mystique of toughness they may have had is eliminated once we learn that the men are on top of the food chain once again. Destroys the whole premise of the film as well.

Finally the film also throws in the animal violence for good measure. This movie definitely was not very subtle right? It basically tries squeezing in every possible negative it could. The shooting definitely comes out of nowhere. Then there is also the painful writing to think about. The dialogue is just terrible. None of the characters are particularly likable as a result. Why did Lisbeth teach everyone such broken English when she was old enough to speak well? Was it another power move? Her English also deteriorated but I suppose it was part of the act. The Nun also didn’t handle the situation well since she never suspected a thing. It’s a little sketchy how everyone would trust Lisbeth so completely as to not even check of the Nun was still around.

There are no redeemable qualities in this film aside from the fact that is is rather short. At least you won’t be watching it for very long. The sad part is that there’s an easy fix, just eliminate the tribe of men from another island. Have the main plot be the main characters being hunted by the Amazon warriors. It would be a much better film and while it may still get gritty, the premise is a whole lot better. It’s not like you’d want to root for the main characters anyway so you wouldn’t mind them getting bumped off.

Overall, this film is definitely a mess. It has so many issues that you’ll wonder how this film was ever created. Clearly the writers didn’t even care for the premise which is why it plays out nothing like what the title suggests. The only thing to do for a film like this one is to simply forget about it. Out of sight and out of mind right? If you want to watch a good film about a mysterious island, check out Scooby Doo, Zombie Island.

Overall 0/10

Gargoyles Review

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It’s time to look at a really obscure horror film. This one’s fairly low budget and at times you’ll wonder when it’s supposed to actually get scary. Well, the good news is that while it lacks in scares, it is a fairly short film. It’s all over in a little above an hour. You won’t feel a whole lot of heart during that time and the film mainly goes through the motions, but it’s not that bad. It just needed a few scenes with a bit more of a kick to take it to the next level. This didn’t happen though so the film just puttered out in the end.

The film follows a guy named Mercer who writes books about the supernatural. He doesn’t believe any of them, but they sell very well. One day he gets a letter from a guy out in the middle of nowhere who claims to have some valuable intel for Mercer. Our confident main character doesn’t believe him, but free beer is offered so he decides to give the guy a chance. It wasn’t much of one though as Mercer basically mocks him during the entire visit and really gives the guy a hard time of it. The guy even shows Mercer a skeleton that he found, but Mercer says it’s fake. At that moment, a Gargoyle drops the house on them and the old man dies. Mercer and his daughter Diana escape and decide not to tell the cops what happened. They report the dead body, but act as if it was a natural disaster or something. The cops are one step ahead of them though and decide to pin it on a group of teenagers who are known for stealing around these parts. Can Diana save the kids from the life of a prisoner and can she escape the Gargoyles?

From the start it’s hard to really like any of the characters. Mercer comes across as a total fake who mocks what he writes about. I understand writing purely for the money, but the guy’s attitude was never great. The whole intro scene where he’s mocking this old guy was just mean and only staying for the beer was kind of petty. He’s also a little inconsiderate as he keeps on playing the tape with Diana screaming when the monster comes back. How many times does he have to play that thing? He goes through it about 5 times and never learns anything new. There’s no secret piece of the puzzle that’s suddenly going to show up there.

As for Diana, she likes taking pot shots about Mercer and implying that he let the teenagers get framed for money. As he pointed out, the cops would never believe them about Gargoyles invading the city and starting World War III so he needs proof first. They’d have a similar reaction to the skeleton. I suppose it’s good that she went to exonerate the teens, but she didn’t do a good job about it. She also didn’t do a great job of resisting the demons although I suppose there wasn’t much she could do. I think making a break for it would have helped though.

The Gargoyles make for pretty bad villains. The intro to the film talks about how they’ve been at war with humanity for centuries and lose every time. Luckily, there is always one that escapes and she hatches a bunch of others and they start all over again. Well, that’s the case here and this time they decide to lie low for a while while the eggs hatch. This plan would have worked…but they decided to burn a house down and get people interested again. The plan made no sense and they would have destroyed the world if not for this. I suppose they couldn’t help themselves as they wanted to kidnap Diana and steal a demon book, but both of these things were ultimately pointless to them. If they had waited and attacked with their army, things could have gone a little differently.

Still, this film isn’t exactly known for its masterful writing now is it? To an extent I suppose it’s to be expected that some things wouldn’t add up and this was likely not thought out a whole lot by the writers. They just needed to churn a film out ASAP. One big moment where you’ll notice this is when Mercer goes back to get reinforcements and takes his time, but still catches up to the leader by the cave. I guess they were moving in slow mo considering how long Mercer was gone. The stale mate at the end was also anticlimactic as the demon basically just yelled “I’ll be back in 100 years” and flew away. There was no final fight or anything like that, just more posturing and bewilderment from the people in the audience.

The teenagers never got likable either and the cops weren’t great either since they were quick to pin the blame without any proof. None of the cast was likable and that includes the really random owner of the motel who was flirting around and accusing the main characters of various stuff the whole time. There was no reason for her inclusion except possibly for humor (Which failed if so) or just to give us a quirky character. Films don’t need quirky characters, but it seems like they are always added anyway. The Gargoyles get a few fatalities along the way so the film had some stakes, but it still felt like this horror was just going through the motions.

Going back to plot holes or at least leaps in logic, there was another iffy scene. After Diana goes to the police station on her own and walks back, it seems like it’s a very long trek. This kind of makes sense since the heroes had to drive in a car for a while to get there. The Gargoyles then attack her while she is in the middle of nowhere and you think that hope is lost for her. Fortunately, this isn’t the case as Mercer appears and takes her back to the motel…which is only 5 steps away. Wait a moment, the place was deserted for miles a second ago and Diana was looking around as if she was lost. Did she not see the cabin? It was a scene that didn’t make any sense. The brief “fight” scene after that was interesting as the Gargoyles just broke in and messed everyone up. The suits weren’t half bad I suppose, but they don’t look as intimidating when they’re walking around like that.

Overall, There’s not much to the Gargoyles film. The enemies are fairly bland and generic while the main heroes are unlikable and not very sympathetic. The film doesn’t have a lot of direction. It’s a shame because it didn’t really make many mistakes. The film isn’t violent, there isn’t any real language, and there’s no animal violence. However, not making mistakes doesn’t make up for not getting anything right. The film still isn’t very interesting anyway and there’s no real reason to recommend it to anyone. If you want a really scary film, check out Madoka Magica: Rebellion. The ending in particular is truly frightening!

Overall 4/10

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

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It’s time to look at a game that everyone was talking about a while back. Mutant Mudds was the next big thing back in the day, but there was no physical release. Well, now there finally is one and I can safely say that it’s a fun game. It’s pretty short and you can tell that it had a limited budget since there aren’t a lot of levels. That being said, the gameplay is solid and ultimately that’s all you really need to be a good game.

The story follows a young kid as he decides to save the world from mud monsters. There’s not much of a plot as you are just thrown into the action and there are maybe 2-3 text bubbles that pop up. Of course if you were expecting a long story, then you’ve come to the wrong title. The main experience here are the levels. There are 20 levels in the game and each one comes with a 3-5 minute timer. You will have to run and jump to get through them. Fortunately, the main character has a jet pack which lets you hover for a few seconds. It’s a very useful ability and you also have a blaster with can defeat enemies. Furthermore, you unlock 3 power ups as you go through the game although you can only activate one of them at a time. There’s the super hover, (I recommend this one) the vertical boost, (Fun, but only use it when you have too) and the Super Blaster. (No real purpose aside from bonus collectibles)

The toughest parts of the levels are typically when you have to make some real precision jumps. That being said, they aren’t all that hard when you compare them to real extreme titles like Mario Maker or even the DK games. Fortunately, the game does manage to increase the difficulty through the extra levels. Each of the 20 levels has a ghost counterpart where you play the levels again but this time you cannot let yourself get hit. It certainly raises the stakes since your platforming skills are really put to the test now. This works as part of the replay value in the game. It’s a bit of a forced time extender so if the levels had been longer I would have been a little upset. As it stands now, the levels aren’t very long I found it to be fairly reasonable.

Another form of replay value is the fact that all of the levels have 100 gems. You want to get all of the gems to complete the game and also to get closer to getting all of the game’s trophies. There is no Platinum unfortunately, but you can still get 100% completion to show off your true skills. To do that, you’ll have to beat the 40 levels as well as the 20 levels inside of the normal levels. To get to those final 20 levels, you have to use your power ups to get to the secret entrances. The tricky part is that you don’t know which one is in which levels so expect some trial and error here as you figure out what’s up.

The game also operates on a few different layers so you can jump from the front of the screen to the back at certain points. Always be careful that you don’t land right on an enemy. The trickiest parts of this are usually when you can’t tell if an enemy is next to you or on a different layer. It makes for some good mind games as you have to figure out what’s happening before you get slammed. You get 3 hearts and recover full health whenever you make it to a check point. Each level has a check point which is really helpful because even if you lose, you have somewhere to go back to.

This game brings you back to the retro world of sprites when it comes to graphics. That’s always fun to see since sprites really were a lot of fun back in the day. We’ll always be sad to see them go since they were a big part of the gaming world. The graphics aren’t going to look like a modern game’s, but the actual sprite models hold up pretty well. The soundtrack is less inspiring though as the tunes have all already faded at this moment. They weren’t bad tunes, they just didn’t sound as good or unique as they could have been.

If I have any complaint, it’s that I would have liked a boss battle. At least one for the very end to help give the game a grand ending. I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to code one in. Send in a giant version of a minion if necessary and make the battle take place in a room where you can drop things on the monster. It will keep the fight a little difficult while not being insane either. It would be a nice middle ground for the game.

Overall, Mutant Mudds is a pretty solid game. It’s short so you shouldn’t spend 60 dollars on it, but for 30 or so it’s not a bad buy. Considering that you have to beat the levels more than once, it has enough content to last you for a few hours. It’s not quite ready to hang with the likes of Shovel Knight, Shantae, or Mighty No 9, but the fact that it got a physical release already helps to put it above many of its rivals. If you’re looking for a good side scroller, then I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s like a Metroid game only without the puzzles and you can’t go wrong there. I can definitely see myself going back and grabbing all of the trophies one of these days and hopefully the next installment gets a Platinum. It’s games like this one that give Indies a good name so hopefully they can keep up the good work. I can also see why people really like retro games like this one. They’re simple, but easy to get invested in as you watch yourself play for long periods of time. I’ll always be more of a big budget AAA gamer myself, but I like to enjoy all the styles.

Overall 7/10

Under The Shadow Review

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It’s time for an indie horror film. Now, that can sound like a very dangerous combo. I haven’t had great luck with indie films as of late nor have I had luck with the recent horror films. If you want to be more accurate, you could also just say that I haven’t had any luck with either genre at all. Whether past or present, they typically don’t work out all that well. Still, maybe they would cancel each other out and the movie would be a success. This horror film actually is better than the vast majority of them. It’s not a film that you’d want to re watch, but it was better than expected. For a horror film, it was actually pretty decent.

This is one of the few films that I’ve seen subbed aside from anime movies so that was pretty neat. Well, the film starts off with Shideh and Iraj. They live in a war torn country where bombs are dropped every once in a while and everyone is pretty much doomed. Your only two options are to stay and try your luck or move to America where things are going well. Everyone leaves for New York, but Shideh doesn’t want to leave her home. Iraj tries to convince her, but then he’s called to serve in the war. Shideh decides that staying in the home with their daughter Dorsa will still be doable, but then they begin to be haunted by the Djinn. These powerful genie want to take Dorsa away. They seem to prefer not to get their hands dirty so they rarely launch any actual attacks, but the threat remains. Can the heroes escape these spirits or is the house simply not big enough for the lot of them?

Well, lets go into the reasons as to why this film is better than the average horror. There’s no animal violence. You heard that right folks. I admit that it’s rather shocking, but there isn’t a random dog or bird death in the whole film. That’s a horror staple and I’m glad that this film ignored it. There aren’t any random fanservice scenes either if I recall correctly. No random shower scene to drop the film a few stars. It’s also not unnecessarily violent with the spirits just trying to eat everyone. As I mentioned, they’re pretty relaxed and chill the whole time. These are spirits that you can’t be friends with, but at least they’re not too over the top dangerous.

One thing that this film does have in common with other horror movies is that the main characters are pretty annoying though. Shideh overreacts for everything and comes across as super defensive. She blames her husband for not convincing her to stop partying and aiding the rebels in a futile mob display at her college which banned her from going back. She wants to stay at her house even though it’s not the smart thing to do and she constantly gets mad at her daughter and cracks. (Yells) It’s very hard to be sympathetic with her during the movie and she never really becomes a nice person. She does have a final confrontation with Iraj on the phone though where Iraj finally cracks, but more on that later.

Dorsa makes sure to get the heroes in as much trouble as she can. She’s really attached to this doll that she has, but she ends up letting the Djinn get it. How the Djinn work is that they can’t mess with you until they have one of your belongings. I mean, they did break into the house to grab it so they technically could attack witho or without the objects, but maybe it’s an honor code of sorts. Whatever the reason, Dora makes it very easy for them. She keeps leaving doors open and trying to break into their hideout. She stops Dora from escaping a few times because she wants the doll even more than life itself. It’s even her fault that the fake out at the end works because Dorsa is so mean and inconsiderate during the whole film that her actions at the end were pretty believable. Dorsa just isn’t a team player and she does her best to cast doubt on everyone.

Finally we have Iraj. He’s the most reasonable of the main characters. If he had been around it would have been a lot tougher for the Djinn which is why they had to break into the government offices and make sure that the guy was drafted. He calls from time to time to remind Shideh that she should leave already even if it’s always futile. Finally, he seemingly cracks at the end and throws out a lot of insults. Of course, another explanation is that the demons got to him and forced him to say that or they just mimicked his voice. I like to think that he just cracked though since everyone tends to crack in these horror films and that way he would be no exception.

One of the most well done parts of the film was the final triple fake out. So, Shideh starts to run for the basement because the walls were all caving in from the latest missille. Unfortunately, Dorsa stops because she really wants her doll. Shideh heads back and grabs her so then they make it down. That’s when Shideh seemingly hears Dorsa yelling for help from upstairs. If that’s Dorsa, then who is the girl with Shideh? The girl half heartedly tells Shideh to wait and see so she just shoves the girl away and heads upstairs. She finds Dorsa hiding under the bed, but then she shifts into a monster and grabs Shideh. No worries, Shideh’s dealt with these guys before and overpowers the comically weak Djinn and heads back downstairs.

Unfortunately, Dorsa is having another tantrum so she runs to the Djinn so she can be protected. Unfortunately..it was a trap! They use reality warping powers to try and take Dorsa down for the count, but Shideh just overpowers the illusion and sends them to oblivion once more. I suppose Shideh should get some claps for how she kept humiliating these monsters, but I still didn’t like her as a character. Either way, it was a pretty great moment since the scene had her running up and down the building since it was always hard to know which Dorsa was real. Get ready for that plot twist ending by the way…it makes things pretty interesting. All horror films need a twist ending after all so I’m glad that this film didn’t forget to add it. That’s a horror staple that we need to keep. Even action films are doing them nowadays and you know that that’s a good sign.

The film can drag a little when the Djinn aren’t around though. I can’t say that the actual story is very interesting. Since the cast isn’t likable and all of the neighbors vanish when important things are happening, you’re always just waiting for the haunting to start. Maybe it’s for the best since if the Djinn were to appear more, then there would be more time for dicey stuff to happen. Still, it’s a tough balancing act to follow. The visuals for the Djinn were fun when they popped up even if it was pretty rare to save the budget. I liked how fast the villains were as well since one even used super speed to blow by Shideh at one point. Seeing more scenes like that would have been cool.

Overall, if there’s anything that I’d change or add, I’d maybe reduce the time that the film spent looking for the doll. Everyone knew that they wouldn’t find it until the spirits wanted them too after all so we would get the general gist of the situation with a quick montage or something. The characters hold it back somewhat, but the film isn’t bad. It’s decently interesting and manages to fit in all of the jump scares at the end. You’ll be left with some questions like why a little kid knows so much about the Djinn, but I guess someone needs to know about them. After all, these guys have been around for a while so there should be other witnesses. If you want to see a horror film, then I’d recommend this one over most of the others. It may be the best horror film aside from Poltergeist III and maybe Lights Out. It may also beat Lights Out to be honest. It’s the kind of film where you’ll start to forget some of the specifics, but you’ll remember the overall film and that’s a good thing. Cut out Dorsa and I’m sure the film would instantly jump up a star.

Overall 5/10

All Is Lost Review

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All is definitely lost all right with this film. Trying to hold a roughly 2 hour film with just one character is not an easy proposition. Nor is it a good idea It’s a bold move and one that I guess you’d expect someone to do for a high school project if you had absolutely no budget and needed to quickly make some money. This film wasn’t exactly in that circumstance though and I can’t award it any sympathy points anyway. This film is not bad in the same way as Sucker Punch, Suicide Squad, or I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it still makes one critical mistake. It’s one of the most boring films that I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, Mr. Megorium’s Wonder Emporium (Close enough to the title) is actually more interesting. This film gives Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit competition along with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t think being boring on its own is enough to get you a 1, but this film does come close.

So, there’s a guy on a boat. Unfortunately, there’s a heavy wind so his boat starts to drift away. He must now try to stay alive for around 2 hours, but he’ll have to deal with strong winds and rain. I didn’t know anything about the film before watching it so I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. “That was an extremely slow start, but I’m sure something will happen soon” was what I was thinking at 20 minutes in. 40 minutes in- “All right, this is a little troublesome. The film can’t get a positive score at this point, but maybe we’ll get some pirates or something” 90 minutes in- “Nooooooooooo!”

It’d be hard to have a film that is less eventful than this one. It screams “Indie” in a bad way as it constantly buys for time. We have to watch the guy eat in 10 different scenes or more. We see him stare out the window, drink beer, and the scenes where nothing happens just goes on and on and on. At least a slice of life movie still has dialogue between characters to keep you engaged. There is nothing for your brain to think about with this film except as to when the film is going to end. I have to be honest, films need dialogue. It’s something to sink your teeth into and learn about the characters. If you’re going to make a film with only one character, then we at least need a lot of inner monologue like with Lon Chaney. Choosing to make a modern day silent film without any interactions, villains, plot, or anything else is just a bad idea. There’s just nothing to this film. I could see a fan film on Youtube like the Mega Man one or King of Fighters with more action and story development.

The locale also isn’t very interesting since we’re just seeing some water the whole time. It never really switches so you better be a fan of the place or it’s going to get very old very quickly. There isn’t really a sountrack so mix that in with the no talking part and things get intriguing. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the camera angles needed some work as well. It kept getting hit by the water of being put in a bad angle so you couldn’t see much. This was probably meant to help the realism, but it failed miserably. It’s not as if the guy had a camera with him in the film so there’s no point in acting as if it was with him. We should have gotten crisp camera angles that could have felt like they were in a modern film.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot to say about this film and no need to keep on beating at the same topics right? I think you get the general idea that I really didn’t like the execution of this film or the very concept of just having a one man movie. It’s not a good idea. Films need dialogue, interaction, multiple characters, fights…something to keep you entertained. This film didn’t have any of that which is why I was bored out of my mind. Now, there is a market for this as there are people who follow celebrities on snapchat and other social media sites where you just watch them walk around and hang out. Vine had a similar thing going. If your idea of a good time is just watching someone walk around for 2 hours, then you’ll enjoy this film a lot. It’s not my cup of tea though so I’m going to go back to my classic Dragon Ball Z films where I can relive the good ole days. I watch Super Smash battles for multiple hours at a time and I’m sure that some people would be bored by that so at th every least, All Is Lost can try to get to a niche and isn’t that what most Indie films do anyway? Better luck next time with the one man approach, I’m sure that another film can implement it better. If necessary, throw in a last second character like Matt Damon just showing up out of a containment tube or a Tom Cruise clone walking around an apocalyptic planet. Other films have already solved the problem of how to start off with 1 or 2 characters and then throwing someone else in, All is Lost just needed to have remembered that a little sooner.

Overall 2/10

ATM Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
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Ah man…it’s time for a modern indie thriller. Now, I try not to have anything against indie films as it’s nice for people to make their own films and get them out into the market. The problem is that 90% of the indie films that I’ve seen have all been rather terrible. This film is no exception as its aggravating characters and poorly thought out plot leave much to be desired. You’ll probably spend most of the film correcting the writers or pointing out how unrealistic the characters are. Most of the film relies on the assumption that the heroes aren’t smart at all and that all of the background characters have no common sense. These assumptions don’t lead to a smart movie.

There aren’t a lot of characters here since just about the whole film takes place in a portable ATM shelter. David and his beer buddies were enjoying themselves at an office party when he decides to drive Emily home. It’s her final day at the job so this is their last chance to talk about the weather. Unfortunately, Corey had one too many beer bottles and decided to tag along just to embarass the other two and prevent them from saying anything important. He forces them to pull over at an abandoned gas station, but then forgets that his card doesn’t work. David and Emily follow him inside, but then they see a mysterious fellow show up outside of the shelter. The heroes are instantly petrified and can only watch as the guy murders anyone who tries to get to the ATM. If they leave, they may face the same threat. Rather than exploit the 3 vs 1 advantage on a guy who’s standing in the cold and getting frost bite, the heroes decide that it’s in their best interest to freeze inside of the ATM shelter which is actually just as cold as the outside world. Did I mention that they didn’t bother to bring their phones?

You can argue that the last line destroyed the film’s credibility. I don’t think it had any to begin with, but there’s no way you wouldn’t bring your phone when heading to an ATM. People take their phones with them everywhere and this is no different. It was a rather lazy excuse to have the heroes be unable to call for help. To make things worse, David’s car has a broken lock so anyone can just open it and do what they want. The villain’s a master at hacking cars and getting them to work even without the keys so he’s really all set on his end. The heroes can just grin and endure this experience until they freeze over.

None of the characters are likable here, which is really bad for a film like this. David just lets Corey take advantage of him the whole time. He’s not very smart and makes all of the wrong decisions each and every time. Just hanging out with such a toxic crowd the whole time starts him off on the wrong foot. Emily’s not an interesting character either and it sure was convenient that she happened to already like David since otherwise his random flirting on the last day of her job would have just been awkward. I doubt anyone wants to hear a confession from someone you’ve worked with for years and never said anything to you in all that time. David comes across as desperate.

Finally, there’s Corey. He’s the miller time character of the group. He doesn’t really have respect for anyone but himself. He trolls a Domino’s pizza delivery guy for no reason other than to just make a scene and he refers to his fellow colleagues with a certain insult as opposed to using their actual names. He’s as bad as it gets for the drunk “friend” category and continues to put the characters in a bad spot throughout the film. He’s certainly someone that you cannot count on and someone that you wouldn’t even want on your side. He talks a good game, but his confidence vanishes pretty quickly.

Then there’s the Villain. Thing is, he doesn’t get any lines and we never really get to see him to save the budget a little more money. He just stays in the hoodie the whole time except for the opening and closing scenes of the film. He has no character and is just portrayed as a generic serial killer. There’s nothing engaging about him at all. This guy does still manage to bring the film down though. For starters, the film’s ending cemented the fact that this movie was terrible. Ready to hear the ending?

Basically, the serial killer wins. He frames David for murdering everyone else despite this being logically impossible and then heads off to murder some other people. It’s just a very mean spirited ending and one that almost comes across as an inspirational message to villains watching this movie. It tries to show that he succeeded because of his careful planning and that he’ll just continue going on like this. The villain winning in an ending can work if it’s handled with extreme care, but this film didn’t have any of that delicacy. It’s not like a Xenomorph showing up at the end and destroying the last hero or Godzilla blowing up the planet. A serial killer just getting in the way at the end is simply a lot darker and the kind of ending that you don’t want to see. At the very least, it’s an ending that guarantees I’ll be giving the film a terrible score.

The film was already at a very low point anyway. It would have gotten a 1 tops, but the ending is what ultimately pushed it over the edge. The writing is as terrible as it gets with language being used so much that you have to wonder how small their vocabulary is. Whether intentional or not, it doesn’t change the fact that all of the characters were bad. Plot points happen artificially to continue the plot. For example, the main villain did let one guy go into the ATM machine so the heroes could murder him and further incriminate themselves. The guy happened to be wearing the same coat and didn’t get to say anything before they took him down. That’s really hard to swallow.

Naturally, the film also squeezes in the trope of having the cop show up, but get taken down immediately. Naturally, none of the characters told him to watch out for the murderer approaching him and the cop took his time looking from side to side. Stuff like this keeps on happening. The camera also conveniently goes dead right at the end to make David look as guilty as possible. It’s not even so much that the villain planned things out well, but that luck was on his side. The heroes were not quite so fortunate, but then again..they weren’t exactly heroes either.

The film’s also pretty violent as you would expect since the villain just beats everyone to death. Nobody puts up a fight either and they keep on getting hit long after they’re dead for extra impact. Over the top violence adds another check to the list of weak points that this film had and another reason for you to avoid it all together. At least the dog lived as I was a little worried that it would come back and get taken out. I’ll give the film some credit for that, but not enough credit to actually win it back a star.

Overall, ATM is a poorly conceived film and the execution was as bad as could be. The ending is terrible and not only does it send the wrong message but it drags on as well. I don’t think anyone wanted to re watch a large part of the film via flashbacks, but the ending did it anyway. There’s no one to root for here and the film’s never any fun. It’s just a dark, violent story where the villain gets all of the first and last laughs. It’s hard to see how anyone thought this would be a good idea. With superb writing I suppose this maybe could have been a decent idea, but it would need drastic changes. It’s just hard to play this out with any sense of realism. The villain gave the heroes dozens of opportunities to escape as he did some drilling in the back and kept on giving them a lot of room. He’s fortunate that none of them were very athletic or brave. I highly recommend watching something a little more classy like Mission Impossible. Those films will remind you of what true quality is.

Overall 0/10

Little Big Planet Review

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It’s time to take a look at Little Big Planet! This game was fairly big when it came out and it took me a while to finally get it. Many people started comparing it to Mario and it was supposed to be Sony’s big answer. Well if that is the case, then it is safe to say that Nintendo won this round by a mile. LBP’s gameplay is decently solid, but the whole game tries to be very “art house” and meta instead of focusing on just being fun and easy to get into. The plot’s also rather lackluster, but what else is new for platformers?

You play as Sackboy. It is heavily implied that the characters know that you the player are controlling Sackboy. The game constantly tries to be meta like this and all of the characters are actually paper cutouts. They are all being manipulated by a mysterious villain known as the Collector so you have to go around saving them all and proving that the Little Big Planet is more resilient than the villain thinks. Honestly, the story would have been much better if it wasn’t constantly trying to remind you that the whole thing was fake. The main villain even cries at the end and quickly turns good so fast that you had to wonder what was going on.

As a result of the game trying to go for a very indie feel, the graphics were actually pretty bad. Honestly, they looked worse than the average PS2 game and I’d take good ole N64 and PS1 games over it. The graphics just weren’t my style and the fact that they were all made of paper just seemed like it was an easy way to save some money on the budget. It was all pretty iffy if you ask me. The soundtrack was fairly decent I suppose, but certainly not memorable. There are no tunes that you’ll be humming to yourself afterwards.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the plot just isn’t good. You have to ignore the graphics and the story and just focus on the gameplay. That’s the only way to really enjoy Little Big Planet. Even then, it is a lot choppier than Mario. Possibly to reinforce the fact that they’re all paper, it’s easy for Sackboy to get stuck to objects or jump a little too far. I died quite a few times in the thunder level because it was hard to control where I was going. It didn’t feel like it would have been much of a challenge if the game had Mario’s level of refinement. It’s just so much smoother than this title.

All right, this has been a pretty negative review so far. Keep in mind that the gameplay is still good, but it’s more at the level of Flip’s Twisted World than Mario. It feels a lot more like an Indie game than a AAA title and maybe it is I suppose. Regardless, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I was expecting a very different game than what I got, but that’s the price of not really looking up a game until you buy it. Just as some will be better than expected, others end up turning out worse.

There is a lot of replay value here to help hold the game up. After completing the game, you are only around halfway done at best. There are plenty of other levels to complete and stickers to assemble. Along the way you can aim for the Platinum Trophy which seems fairly reasonable to obtain. It would take a long while though and you’ll need to master the controls along the way. They definitely do get easier to use the more that you play the game. Doing all of this will definitely extend the play time of the game. The actual story is reasonably short and you can complete it in a few hours, but the Platinum should easily take you to around 20 hours if not longer.

There were boss battles in the worlds, which were fun as well. Most of them were pretty easy, but the fights were well thought out. I also think that all Platforming games should have bosses of some kind to change up the gameplay and to just provide a nice challenge. It at least offers the semblance of a story. I guess this game should be described as more of an experience than anything else. You get to run through various levels like a desert or a haunted house. The haunted house was definitely the most tense and atmospheric level while others like the Canyons were fairly generic. There is a great contrast between the various worlds and I suppose that’s a good thing. You can also create levels in this game which is a fairly big deal, but I skipped that part. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday, but with Mario Maker in existence, there’s no real reason to use any other title for level creation.

Overall, Little Big Planet may have not been the platformer that I wanted, but it’s definitely the one that I deserved after not giving him fights on my blog for so long. The game was disappointing which had an impact on making this review so negative, but keep in mind that it is still a decently good game. There is a lot to do here and the gameplay was decently well thought out. I always talk about how gameplay is really the bottom line for a video game and this title is the perfect example of that. The execution wasn’t perfect, but the game did try to give you as much control over Sackboy as it could. You can change his facial expressions, make him give a thumbs up, and a lot of other customization. You can dress him up any way you see fit and that can make the levels a little more entertaining. I don’t imagine that I’ll be buying the sequel anytime soon, but if you’re looking for a good platformer to spend some time on, this one will work as well as any.

Overall 6/10

Voodoo Woman Review

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Uh oh, it’s time for another indie film. You know how some series like Transformers start you off with a low bar? Indie films have no bar at this point so you can only expect to hit rock bottom and not rise above it. It’s rather sad to generalize all indie films like that, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ve probably seen like 10+ indie films in a row and they’ve all turned out to be completely terrible or just very bad. This one is no exception as it manages to reach the legendary 0 score. There’s just nothing good about this film and it gradually gets worse and worse as it goes on.

Marilyn wants to get rich so she murders some guy and gets the bartender to trick a hired guide to take her to some tribes. She wants their gold and will do just about anything to get it. Dr. Chaka tells her that the tribe will let her steal their gold if she goes through a ritual. He wants to do this because he aims to create a super creature who is superior to humankind and then he will show her off to the other colleges. She has different plans for this though and either way, the tribe looks to be in some real danger.

The film starts out at rock bottom right from the get go. We see a dead animal as part of a vicious ritual and then a young maiden having to become a monster. She resists the orders to destroy her village, but it’s still a pretty sad fate. She escapes only to get forcefully used and then murdered by one of the main characters. The film was desperate to stay as dark and gritty as it could throughout. This scene didn’t add anything to the film and just reminded you of what you were watching.

Another ongoing plot is that Marilyn is used to getting what she wants through the use of her feminine wiles, but Ted (The adventurer) is determined not to let her win. As such, he goes the James Bond route. He has his fun, but always reminds her afterwards that he still won’t help her. It’s certainly not the most heroic route to go if you ask me and it just makes both characters look really bad. Rick’s the terrible main character who turns out to be evil and is quickly murdered afterwards. It was good to have him written out of the film at the very least.

Meanwhile, you have Chaka’s wife who is imprisoned in her own home. She makes the mistake of running towards the villains though which doesn’t end well. At least she gets over her husband’s death pretty quick once Ted comes along. Chaka was a bad person and the film made sure to show that quite a lot so it makes you wonder how they ever got together anyway. Meanwhile, one slave tried to help the wife, but was naturally murdered for his efforts. If you leave this film alive, you can count yourself lucky since most of the characters were murdered by the end.

The actual Voodoo Woman in question wasn’t a very scary monster. She could barely move and had to be the slowest villain that I’ve seen since the Gill Man. While she was bullet proof as well as acid proof, I can’t see anyone actually being scared of her in the theater. That means that the film failed on that account. The suit was also pretty low budget and just looked fake the whole time. The film also barely had the Voodoo Woman appear, probably due to budget constraints.

The film’s first half takes forever to go anywhere. The two plots don’t merge until the film is already well into the climax and then it quickly ends. I was glad that the film wasn’t any longer since it had already been dragging on for quite a while. The sooner it was over the better if you ask me. After all, watching a 0 star film is never much of a pleasant experience. How could the film have been better? Well, cut out Rick and all of his scenes, take away Chaka and his experiments, take away Marilyn and her unfortunate plots, take away all of the animal violence, and then we’ve got a film. The problem is that you’re taking away about 80% of the film so it’s a completely different movie by that point right? That’s why there basically isn’t anything to save in this film, it would take a whole other movie to be good.

The only part of the film that could have been semi decent was the corrupt cafe towards the beginning of the film. I like how the bartender robs people and then covers up murders for an extra profit. He covers all of the bases and even robs the people that are about to be murdered so the real murderer can’t take the full cut of the profits. Even here though, the film makes sure to remind you that none of the characters are too smart. One professional is distracted by a dancer who very obviously goes to distract him and doesn’t notice that two villains went into his room in the mean time. This guy was supposed to be smart…how could he fall for the oldest trick in the book? It was pretty disgraceful so it was hard to feel bad for him when he met his inevitable demise. At least he didn’t have to live through the rest of the film so that’s something.

Overall, The Voodoo Woman is a movie that is best left forgotten. It’s not a film that is so low budget that it ends up being good. It’s just a bad film that doesn’t get any better no matter how long you continue to watch it. There are few films that are quite as bad as this one and it’s just unfortunate. I can’t say that I ever had much hopes in a film about Voodoo though. It’s certainly not the most interesting plot device out there. Ideally I won’t be seeing a film this bad again for a while, but you never know. There’s always another film around the bend that it just waiting to reach new heights and once in a while…they succeed! There’s a twist ending in this film by the way so if you somehow watch the movie, stick around for it. It reminds you that the whole thing is futile. Of course, you should watch just about any other film instead of this one. Even Pixels is a considerable improvement since it at least features an arcade.

Overall 0/10