Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Review


It’s been a little while, but now it’s time to look at the next installment in the Olympic Game series. This one has been a mixed bag for me because some of the titles here have been really solid while others were pretty bland. I have to put Sochi in the weaker half as well. While it does have the best story in the series the gameplay is definitely the weakest. The game made the odd decision of having you switch between the Gamepad and the Wii remote constantly for story mode. That’s just an odd decision if you ask me and it’s one that slows everything down. I’ll go into that more in a second.

The story revolves around Team Sonic and Team Mario getting ready for another round of competition. They are interrupted when a giant castle shows up and mysterious keys lock down all of the doors. The heroes will have to fight past shadow versions of themselves to make it to the top and find out who is doing this. What mastermind could possibly be giving the heroes such a difficult fight? One thing’s for sure, the heroes can’t afford to hold back if they want to claim victory here.

So I definitely do give the game credit for actually adding a story here. That’s where the credit stops. I’ll talk about the positives in a minute, but the controls need to be addressed right away. Not only do you have to switch controls but you have to have the Wii Remote Plus or you won’t even be allowed to play the story. It’s a pretty slick way of making sure everyone bought the add on, but definitely a shady method if you ask me. The player shouldn’t be required to jump through all these hoops just to have some fun playing these Olympic titles.

Would it have been so hard to have just made all of the minigames Gamepad compatible? It’s just really strange that you have to keep switching. Also, the series has never been particularly good with this, but it’s really hard to understand the controls at a glance here. You can see the controls after you’ve paused the game, but the first time around you’ll probably be winging it. The controls are heavily motion based as well so get ready for the game to keep doing things when you don’t want it to. As a result this can make the game a bit more difficult than it is actually supposed to be which is definitely pretty iffy.

On the positive side, the graphics look pretty good as always. It’s always nice to see modern Sonic and Mario on the same screen here. All of the characters look sharp and the same goes for the level designs and animations. The soundtrack is also quite solid as it gives us various remixes for both the Mario and Sonic titles. This adds a little spice to the mini games for sure. It also just makes a lot of sense since the game should not use any generic themes when it has such a vast library of good tunes to choose from. That’s the way I see it anyway.

There’s a good amount of replay value here. The games are all made to be ones that you can replay a lot with friends and family to just have a good time. There are a lot of records to break and content to unlock. It’s not quite as vast as the first Winter Olympic Games which had a whole store filled with things to buy, but it’s definitely not bad either. There are a lot of modes here, but of course what will ultimately decide whether you want to play or not is how much you like the minigames.

On that note, they are very hit or miss. There are some minigames that are a lot of fun like Hockey, sliding down the hill, skateboarding, bobsledding, etc. On the other hand, there is the classic Curling game which seems to make it in every year. This game is as bad as it always was with the outcome basically being luck and the game drags on forever. You never get to walk in and out for this title. The dancing minigames also take quite a while to end. I believe they may be 4-5 minutes long which may not sound crazy, but for a minigame that is really pushing it.

At the end of the day the Olympic series has always seemed like a watered down version of Mario Party. The various games usually aren’t made with quite as much heart and there’s always a dicey one in there somewhere. Most of the games are good and I think they’ll all be reasonably enjoyable once you’re not playing a computer. This is still a good party game, but it’s definitely not the first one I’d recommend getting. I’m hoping that the new one coming out for the Switch does something different. I haven’t played the newest Olympics title yet so maybe by now they’ve fixed everything, but I can say that t this point in time I’m not in a huge rush to get the next one. I certainly will, but I do hope it’s better than this one.

Overall, The Sochi 2014 games aren’t a whole lot different from the other years. I feel like they phoned this game in to an extent. Many of the games share the same controls and aren’t terribly inspired. At the same time, the story is fun though and I think you can get some good enjoyment out of this one. The game is pretty cheap by this point so it isn’t much of an investment. I think it’s also fair to say that the game is not misleading. You should absolutely know what you’re getting yourself into before you play the game. It’s very straightforward about this so I think even without this review you should know whether you enjoy it or not. If you decide to buy the game then just be prepared to switch controllers every other match.

Overall 6/10

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Masters of the Universe Review


It’s time to take a look at the really old He Man film. It’s definitely one of those movies where you may wonder a bit why they went the route that it did. Surely the movie could have done something else like stay in his world the whole time right? Well, it was definitely an interesting experiment even if it didn’t fully pan out. It’s engaging in its own way at times, but one of those movies that doe shave some moments where it drags.

The film starts off with Skeletor and his minions finally conquering the world. It’s all thanks to a new world hopping device that he got thanks to a little gremlin. One wrinkle in his plans is the fabled hero He Man. Now, “fabled” may not be accurate, but we’re never given a good reason why he wasn’t there from the start. He’s pretty nonchalant with his friends when they find him randomly running around in the dessert. From the intro it sounds like he’s been gone for along time so the whole thing doesn’t make sense. Still, the odds are too great even for He Man so he heads to Earth to make a new device to bring him back. He’ll have to protect two teenagers by the names of Julie and Charlie though as they have the device and Skeletor’s minions are now after him. It won’t be easy but He Man can do it!

If I may be so bold, part of the problem here is the fact that the earthlings are pretty annoying. They are slow on the uptake and all they do is hold He Man back. Think about it, some of the best scenes were the ones from the beginning. We got a lot of cool gun fights and jumped right into the thick of the action. It’s like a war was going on and we got to see the climax of it. It may have been a little weird to see He Man pull out the gun, but I guess even he knows when he needs the extra firepower. The villains look like Stormtroopers and the whole thing could have been like a scene out of Star Wars. Trust me, if the whole film had been like this then it would have been very awesome indeed. It’s the He Man film that we needed.

Also, the fight scenes do hold up pretty well. It’s nice to see He Man just throwing everyone around and dominating the cast of villains. He is basically Superman after all so he should be cleaning shop. He Man’s definitely a solid main character even if he is a bit insensitive. There’s one scene where Julie has just been through a traumatic experience but He Man and the other characters all laugh when the troll drives in on his crazy car. The movie definitely does not always know how to time its comedic moments, I’ll grant you that.

Back to the humans though, I can’t say that Julie is the most engaging character. Her relationship with Charlie is also a bit odd as the first scene sort of implies that they are on the verge of breaking up. She wants distance from him and can’t wait to leave, but that plot flies out the window once the villains attack. She’s also incredibly gullible and naive as there is a certain scene where her mother appears that will make you roll your eyes. It’s one of those moments where you just gotta shake your head. Then you’ve got Charlie who definitely doesn’t seem like the most helpful guy around. He ditches Julie to get some info on how to get rich and after that he spends most of the film complaining about the current situation. The only human who pulls his weight around here is Lubic.

He’s the classic detective who is on a power trip. He wants the device for himself and has no idea on what is going on so he calls the cops and gets ready to take everyone down. He won’t listen to you about who is on the right side so he just blasts everyone who gets in his way. It’s not necessarily a bad outlook if you want to come out on top, but as a detective you’d want him to do a little more due diligence. I do like these parody type characters though so I was definitely rooting for him. He’s just a fun guy to have around.

As for Skeletor, he was handled pretty faithfully I must say. The design is on point and he was given a lot of respect as the villain. He did manage to capture He Man’s planet and that’s no small feat. He probably should have sent all the armies to Earth to fight He Man right from the start though. Finishing him off should be top priority since I doubt anyone else can fight all that well. Instead he insists on the villains taking He Man in alive for some reason. Skeletor never was the smartest villain though.

The ending is definitely emotional I suppose. In general if you ignore all of the scenes with the troll then the film did a decent job of taking itself seriously and giving us good action scenes. The writing actually isn’t all that bad either. Really the only scenes that drag are when the humans show up or when the troll steps in. For the most part the film manages to keep itself on the right track and that’s good. The scene of the heroes fighting while inside the electronics store is pretty surreal for sure.

Overall, Masters of The Universe is a pretty reasonable film. It’s not going to win any awards, but I wouldn’t call it a bad film either. It’s definitely on the cheesy side and the effects may not hold up to the newer titles, but the film doesn’t have any game breaking negatives. It’s a fun little fantasy story that I could still recommend to fans of He Man or just to people that want an exciting little adventure. Aside from one scene where someone takes a pretty hard hit to the face and bleeds more than you’d expect, the movie is also pretty tame. I do think a modern remake of He Man will likely blow this one out of the water, but in the end I’d say that it may have even been slightly better than I had expected it to be.

Overall 6/10

Monster Tamer Girls Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure manga. I’d definitely not heard of this one before and as it was only 2 volumes it’s definitely not one that you will likely see in stores much. It’s definitely an interesting take on the monster genre. It’s sort of a mix between Yotsuba and Go Go Monster. While I can’t say that this manga was all that interesting there was certainly nothing wrong with it either. It’s a good way to spend some time, but at the end of the day it’s a manga I would recommend reading for free at the library as opposed to buying it.

The manga takes place in a world where Kaiju are now commonplace. They are numerous and run around across the planet. Fortunately they are all basically mindless but the bad side of this is that they cause trouble without meaning to. As a result the world has started opening up schools for kids to train on how to tame these creatures. The Tamers will take the Kaiju to safe spaces where they can relax without disturbing people. That’s the way it’s always been and how it must remain in order to build a stable society. The manga follows the adventures of 2 girls who are tamers in training. They’ll soon learn that this job is easier than it looks.

There’s not really much of a plot once you get beyond the initial synopsis which I dare say is a problem. So many cool things you can do with a Kaiju defense force! Most of the manga is introducing you to the cast and then by that point the series is basically over. There are several main humans, but only one main Kaiju who is around for the whole adventure. His name is Blue and he’s a huge Kaiju who just wants a friend. The Monster tamers are fortunate to have him as he helps give them a boost when needed. He definitely makes travelling a lot more convenient for sure.

There are 4 main characters with 2 supporting ones thrown in there. One of these characters is Koto. She is a professional but doesn’t care much for the monsters. She thinks they’re all mindless and the job seems to bore her, but by the end she learns that the monsters have a little heart at least. Then there is Sora who is the co-main character along with Ion. Sora likes messing around and hitting people with the water horse while Ion is just focused on being the best tamer she can be. Tsukiko is the quiet one who doesn’t like to admit that she likes the Kaiju. She has a reputation to uphold after all and she’s always been proud of it. Still, pride comes before a fall and eventually she learns to play nice with the monsters.

None of the characters are bad, however there isn’t much to any of them. They’re all just going through the motions and enjoying their daily adventures, but nothing really comes of this. They get some basic character development like Tsukiko learning to be more open, but that’s about it. There’s really no time for anything else. Length isn’t an issue as you can have a great series in 2 volumes, but I think this is one title that could have used a bit more time. As it stands it is over before you can properly identify with any of the characters and that’s a bit of a problem.

The art is pretty solid, but the problem that the artist has is how similar all of the characters look. It’s easy to mix up Sora and Ion as well as Koto and another one of the characters. Some characters share the same hairstyles and others share the same personalities. Their ages are all pretty close as well so after a while you’ll just find yourself mixing them up. I had to dig up one of the volumes just to remind myself of their names.

I think one thing that could have added some more interesting elements to the story would have been to have some actual monster action in the series. I don’t think that would be unreasonable as surely some of the monsters would try attacking the planet right? The series hints at this and develops a world that should have many interesting elements, but we are stuck at the school with the nice monsters the whole time. You’ll very quickly find yourself wishing to see the outside world. The closest thing we get to these discussions is one kick from Blue to another Kaiju, a flashback where there’s some kind of battle going on and a Kaiju saves someone from a burning window, and a ghost. Beyond that the series is mainly just the kids learning how to feed animals and have fun.

Overall, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t exactly for me. I dare say that Yotsuba has a little more depth and excitement contained within. You really need some sort of gimmick to take the manga to the next level. A slice of life series can live on for quite some time with a good character cast, but you need them to have real personalities. You don’t really get that vibe from this series and even the monster designs aren’t all that great. This doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of options and as a result I’ve got to give this one a middle grade. I wouldn’t say to stick away from it, but I would hardly recommend it either. It’s a manga where you’ll finish it and not have much of an opinion on it. The series isn’t hurting anyone, but you could always find something else to read.

Overall 5/10

Die Hard 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 far more negative.

It’s time to look at one of those action films that pretty much everyone has heard of at some point or another. Die Hard is a pretty big series at this point with many sequels after all. It’s definitely a pretty fun film and I can definitely see why it is remembered so well. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequels go though. Will they try to feel rehashed or will they try for another dynamic? I’m sure I’ll find out the answer to that at some point.

The film starts with John heading over to his wife’s workplace in time for a big party. Unfortunately Holly wasn’t exactly expecting him and they begin to bicker as per usual. The day suddenly becomes a lot more eventful than John had expected though as a group of terrorists show up and seize control of the tower. John manages to hide on one of the higher levels, but everyone else has been taken hostage. John will have to try and alert the police, but in the meantime he’ll also have to take all of these terrorists out. Fortunately he’s a cop from New York so he has some good experience here, but taking down a dozen+ terrorists with a single gun while trapped in a building isn’t easy no matter what experience you’ve got. He’s going to have to think fast here!

Die Hard definitely won’t disappoint you with the action scenes. There are a bunch of gun fights throughout the movie and some hand to hand brawls as well. There’s always something happening and it makes for a pretty tense environment since he is in enemy territory the whole time. John can never let his guard down or they’ll take the upper hand. It’s a pretty long film, but one that doesn’t feel stretched out. It just gives time for everyone to have a good role at one point or another. For example, the film does a good job with the cops who aren’t useless here. A lot of the time they look pretty iffy in these films, but at least they do try some good plans.

Al is the main cop here and he definitely looks good. At first you may be worried as he starts off by buying a bunch of Twinkies, but eventually he quickly becomes someone that John can count on. He is a little limited in how much he can help since it’s not like he has a high ranking title and getting in the building is tough to start with. At least he actually believes John though. The rest of the cops don’t take the threat as seriously and a bunch of them pay for it. Then the FBI also shows up and they are about as arrogant as you’d expect. I definitely like the confidence even if things don’t end up going too well for them. At least they tried right?

There’s also a decent amount of humor here and it works out pretty well for the most part. There’s definitely a lot of banter going on with the communicators. While they are plot important, I do feel like the writers forget that everyone is on the channel at times. John and Al will be chatting on the line and even mentioning things like the officers coming in, but the villains are presumably listening to this at all times as well. I feel like that should have been addressed a little more. Most likely the cops would have kept dying anyway since they didn’t care though.

John does a good job of not giving away his identity much although you get the feeling that the villains will find out from the start since several of the employees already know his identity. One of them even decides to negotiate with the villains which basically goes as you would expect. He definitely wasn’t the smartest guy in the building as the plan just wasn’t very good to start with. Holly did a much better job of playing it cool and not talking much at all. She did give a bit of info near the beginning, but after that she did good.

So the cast is pretty solid. John’s good and the other characters are likable enough. Then you’ve got his driver who gets a bit of an important role at different points in the film. He definitely earned his tip by the end so hopefully they set him up well after getting out of the car. From the villains the biggest two are definitely Hans and Karl. Karl spends most of the film wanting revenge for one of the other villains, but as a result that definitely clouds his judgment. As for Hans, his plan is definitely an interesting one. It was reasonably well thought out although I think his escape plan felt a little risky. I think a lot of things would have to go right for it to go as smoothly as he seemed to think it would. Still, he was a fun main villain to have. Hans had some decorum and was always polite to the characters even if it was pretty fake.

As you might expect the film can be pretty violent at times though. I wouldn’t say anything too crazy like Alien or anything like that, but enough to be noticeable. The writing is decent and fortunately the TV version helps with that. As I mentioned there definitely aren’t any big weak points for the film. It’s a pretty fun experience through and through. I think the length probably does limit the replay value that this one would have, but the plot is executed well so it is a good watch.

Overall, Die Hard is a film that I’d recommend. It’s a classic takeover plot and while it is always iffy to see the villains take over so quickly the bulk of the plot is always about getting the building back. Even if you stretch your disbelief at the beginning you’ll have ideally forgotten all about that by the time you’re at the end of the film. As such it shouldn’t hurt the film much, if at all unless it’s a really big deal. The film takes itself seriously but also has fun with some of the subplots like making the TV reporting a bit exaggerated. I do think that putting the kids on TV and giving the terrorists extra information is incredibly naive, but the sad part is that I could totally see this happening in real life if this made it on the news while the situation was being reported live. It totally shouldn’t but the channels want the ratings. If you haven’t watched this film yet then you should check it out.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Battlefront game. I’m getting closer to the end of this Battlefront marathon as there is just one more that I have after this one. Renegade Squadron is a pretty fun game with a nice setup, but it is definitely as short as you may have heard. I was able to blast through the game in around 3 hours if not a little sooner. There are only 11 levels and they’re all pretty easy. I think I only lost a level once during the whole playthrough. The gameplay is definitely solid though and I can’t say that there are any real weak points to the game beyond the length.

The game starts with a researcher trying to make sure that the history logs about the original trilogy are accurate. As a result she calls the leader of the old Renegade Squadron since nobody’s ever heard of them but apparently they were crucial towards winning the war. The commander confirms that this is the case and starts to talk to her about how things went back in the day. It turns out that this squad was present in pretty much every big battle. They would always be behind the shadows as they helped change events, but their role was key. They even took down Darth Vader twice.

It’s a fun premise even if it does seem like every game likes to introduce new characters who were apparently the real heroes of the rebellion. The dialogue can be pretty cheesy, but it works out pretty well. It may be by the books, but the script does get the job done. You can’t help but root for this old general as he brags about the good ole days. The cutscenes are basically stills with a lot of cool energy effects in the background. I can definitely get behind that and having cutscenes always makes the game feel more majestic. The story may not be as grand as Battlefront II, but the narrator definitely does a better job of making it sound epic.

The graphics are pretty decent. You’ll recognize all of the characters pretty well. It definitely holds up and the PSP has always been pretty impressive in this area. The soundtrack is certainly less memorable and you may not even recall any of the tunes by the time it ends. They just won’t leave that kind of impact on you, but it could be worse. At least you have the classic Star Wars tunes that you see in all of the games.

There is a little replay value as you can play random levels or replay the story ones to get some medals. Admittedly it is still not all that much content though so if you had bought this day 1 then you’d probably be a little upset. As it stands though, I got the game for just a few bucks so that makes the purchase feel a lot better if you ask me. It may be a game that only lasted 3 hours, but at least it was fun. The gameplay lends itself pretty well to just jumping in and having fun. It’s certainly the easiest of the Battlefront games though. Your character is very strong and half of the time you can just skip the enemies.

The gameplay revolves around objectives like destroying objects/fighters or conquering areas. Long gone are the days of the original Battlefront where it was about territory. Since some objectives are just to destroy terminals you can ignore the enemies entirely. Also, you have 3 little objects that you can throw to recover your health entirely. You have a chaingun that has unlimited ammo which also packs a punch and can switch to any other weapon whenever you’re at a base. Your options are numerous and you can also run for prolonged periods of time so there is just no way that the enemies can hope to catch you. I’m not sure why they decided to give you so many techniques for this PSP title. If anything it’s part of why the game is so short since most of the levels can be cheesed.

One area where is did improve on compared to Battlefront II were the space levels though. In that game they weren’t all that fun since the ships were super slow and you didn’t have much of a proper lock on. This game fixes both options as the ship can fly real fast and you can boost for a while. The enemy targets go down quicker so it isn’t as long to clear the levels. They also added auto landing so you don’t have to worry about crashing on re-entry. I still think Battlefront should really stick to the ground levels as that is when the game is at its best, but if the space levels stay this solid then it is definitely less of an issue.

Overall, Renegade Squadron is a fun title. It’s the kind of game that you likely won’t go back to, but that’s fine. As mentioned, the gameplay is definitely a lot of fun. It may be easy, but it’s still satisfying to take out your chaingun and just blast everyone away. The fact that the game also had a pretty solid story certainly helps as well. It makes for a complete experience although I will certainly say that it is the weakest of the Battlefront games so far. I do expect that the next PSP title in the series will end up winning. It’s supposed to be longer and that will definitely help, but we’ll see if the gameplay can match up as well since that is just as important.

Overall 7/10

Predator 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 a lot more negative.

It’s time to look at the 80s movie that started it all. I’m not the biggest fan of the Alien series but I always thought the Xenomorphs were cooler than the Predators. Their design just can’t be beat. Still, I hadn’t seen their solo movies before so it was time to change that. It basically plays out like you would expect. It’s a lot classier than Alien 3 but at the end of the day there are unavoidable errors that the film will bump into due to its nature.

The film starts off with Dutch and his group getting called back to base. The commander quickly explains that they have to go into enemy territory and free the hostages that were captured after they wandered past the border. Also, the group has to take local pencil pusher Dillon with them. Dutch isn’t happy about this but orders are orders. Unfortunately as the group gets deeper into the jungle they start to realize that this mission wasn’t what they were expecting and the real enemy may not even be human.

It takes them a long while to actually realize that there is a Predator around and even longer to realize that he is wearing a cloaking suit. While this is annoying it isn’t unreasonable considering how far fetched the whole thing would seem at face value. As a result the heroes don’t really stand a chance for a while there.

The Predator is fast and has a cool cannon, but he isn’t bullet proof so if you can get the shots off quick enough then you’ve still got a chance. Problem is that his cannon is basically automatic so it is hard to fire before he gets his shot. Also at night he absolutely has the advantage since he can see while the others have to fumble around.

The Predator definitely does have more character than I expected. Again, I saw him in the crossover but I don’t remember the Predators laughing there or copying voices. In this one they can do all of that which is pretty neat. In particular the laugh is definitely pretty fun. On the whole I definitely like the Predator more than I did from the crossover. I still prefer the Xenomorphs but these guys are worthy rivals.

Unfortunately the film does step into the unfortunate error of adding in a bit of animal violence. As always it is a very forced scene that should never have made the cut in the first place. The boar didn’t ask for this! It’s not a terribly long scene but it definitely doesn’t help matters. Also holding the film back is naturally how violent it is. With characters getting skinned and being mangled throughout you can expect a whole lot of violence. It’s fairly tame before the Predator shows up but then he starts it all with a bang.

The character cast isn’t too bad though. I definitely did like the main character Dutch. I never knew that the meme of the handshake was from this movie so that was pretty cool. Dutch was a good leader who could think on the fly and kept coming up with new plans over and over. He’s definitely the kind of guy you want to have around as he won’t desert you no matter the situation. It’s easy to see why he is known as one of the in the field. It’s clear that he and the group weren’t gonna lose to the other humans. He doesn’t get to let loose with too many puns and one liners this time around, but the ones that we do get are pretty good.

One of the more annoying characters is definitely the friend from the old days. Dillon definitely become just another government drone you can’t trust by this point. He also isn’t used to recon missions like this one so he is pretty sloppy at times. Even once Dillon finally decides to go for his hero move by the end it is simply too late for him to be likable. Better than nothing I suppose.

Predator definitely gets some respect for developing so many of Dutch’s squad here. Usually in these films you get the main character but then the rest are basically expendables. While Dillon wasn’t very likable he certainly did get his character arc. Likewise, Mac got a lot of screen time as he tries to avenge one of the other members of the group. He definitely did get a little overconfident in the end which cost him big time though. Never underestimate the Predators! Then there’s Billy who knows something isn’t right from the start but doesn’t do enough about it. In his defense, there is only so much you can really do. I do think he handled the ending pretty badly though. I’m thinking his rationale was to fight the Predator one on one without a gun so in close quarters he would have a chance, but that was never going to happen. It’s off screen so we don’t know if the Predator went the honorable route or not, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he just shot the guy.

Also the premise is just a lot of fun. It’s basically like the Hunger Games except it’s one guy against everyone else. You’ve got the numbers advantage but the person doing the chasing always has some advantages of their own. It’s easier to pick people off when they’re in a group. The whole survival aspect will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s why it is a shame that the film is so violent since you could just keep all the murders off screen and that would help a lot. This could easily be the kind of horror film that actually ends up being really good. Even the writing isn’t as terrible as you’d expect although the TV version does make it look a lot better than it actually is since they block most of the iffy parts.

Overall, Predator makes for a fairly enjoyable watch at times but definitely is still not a film I would recommend. Even edited down for TV the violence is pretty over the top. It’s definitely a very brutal survival film and as long as you can get behind that then you’ll like it. I’m thinking that the next Predators film will probably have a tough time matching up to this one though since this one probably took the franchise as far as it could go. Still, it’s never over til it’s over!

Overall 2/10

Detour Review


It’s time to take a look at a very old noir film. This one is definitely a movie that you likely haven’t heard of unless you are a really big fan of the genre. It’s pretty obscure and I certainly had not heard of it until after I had seen it. It’s a pretty fun film, although one that will likely cause you to have to suspend some disbelief here. There were a lot of ways for the main guy to get out of his predicament, but ultimately he didn’t choose any of them. That was definitely his big mistake.

The film starts off with Al and Sue getting ready to be married. At least, that’s what Al had in mind, but then Sue lets him know what is really going to happen. She’s heading off to Hollywood to become a famous star and so she’ll se him later. Al isn’t happy about this at all and heads back to his music gig to sulk. That’s when he decides that job or not he will head over to Sue’s place. The problem is that he’s in New York and only has ten dollars on him. He’ll have to travel a long way in order to reach her, but he is determined to hitch hike all the way. The problem is that the guy he is driving with ends up falling asleep after having a lot of pills. Al opens the door which causes the guy to hit his head on a rock and die. Al must now deal with his conscience as he heads to California.

That would already be a reasonably difficult drive for him, but then he notices a lady hitch hiking as well and decides to lend her a hand. The only problem is that she knew the previous owner of the car so now she is blackmailing him to do whatever she wants or she will get the police involved. Can Al satisfy Vera long enough to get to Sue or should he cut his losses and run now? Either way it is about to be one adventure that Al will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Al is the really annoying character here. He complains a lot about how life isn’t fair, but half of the time it’s because he isn’t making the smart calls. Even the first incident where he lets his co-driver die was a little suspect. How did he not see the rock? Also, he knew the guy wasn’t conscious so why would you open the door and then not prepare to catch the guy falling out of it? It’s all a bit iffy there which does reduce your sympathy levels for the guy. He also should have been pretty grateful to the guy for giving him a ride instead of grumbling inwardly the whole time. (Admittedly the guy seemed shady, but they wouldn’t be together for too long)

Then the last straw is when he meets up with Vera. Sure, giving her a ride is nice, but he’s on a deadline and is already mixed up in criminal business. Not letting her in the car is almost the nice thing to do if you think about it since you don’t want her to get messed up in all of this right? Keeping her out is one way to keep her safe. Instead he lets her in and then she starts blackmailing him. Now, he could have just walked out at any time, ditched his car like he was planning or something like that. He could have told her he was stopping at any point except where he was actually going. Where’s the benefit in telling her that he has to get to California?

As far as I’m concerned Al blew it 7 ways to Sunday. Again, there’s just no point in feeling bad for the guy because everything that happened was on him. There are a lot of unfortunate coincidences for him of course like the phone cord with Vera at the end, but beyond that he shouldn’t have even been in this situation that whole time. Al should have cut out early. Meanwhile Vera is the main antagonist here so you’re not really supposed to like her either. She definitely talks tough the whole time and does her best to get in Al’s way. Like he said though, she’s just greedy. Her final plan doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense because there’s no way it would work and she already could have gotten a whole lot of money otherwise. That’s why you end up losing everything when you try for too much.

Meanwhile Sue seems like a decent heroine, but I felt like the film was hinting that she didn’t care for Al all that much. She did leave at the drop of a hat and didn’t even bother calling him. If Al hadn’t called first she may have even forgotten all about him. As a result it makes his journey feel even more futile. I was half expecting him to finally make it only for Sue to tell him that she found someone else. Maybe that would have just been too tragic for Al since by that point he’d already been through the ringer. Still, if the movie had kept going I could see that happening.

The ending definitely works out pretty well though. It’s one of those solid endings that may not work out too well for Al, but after a while something had to end his journey. By this point he was already too far gone. I’ll give him credit for never cheating on Sue though. There was a brief moment where I thought he was going to weaken, but fortunately he did not. That’s a really good thing since it definitely would have crushed his character and probably would have hurt the film a bit as well.

Overall, Detour is a solid film. It’s surprisingly short so the film ends just when you think it’s getting to the second act. The ending is abrupt, but not bad. While there aren’t any real likable characters, I do like the premise/plot quite a bit and since the writing is solid it lets the film succeed even without a good cast. It’s not as if the cast is painful either, they all do well in their roles except for Al. He is maybe just a bit too annoying the whole time and I think the film should have just put him in a tougher situation so there would have been less ways for him to escape. That would have made his complaints a little more valid. Still, valid or not I did enjoy the inner monologue. That’s definitely a noir trope that I’ve always enjoyed. It’s nice to see exactly what the character is thinking the whole time.

Overall 7/10

Gorgo Review


It’s time to take a look at one of those old giant monster films that you may have seen back when you were growing up. This monster also looks a whole lot like Godzilla which was pretty interesting. The red glowing eyes make him appear to b quite sinister and we’ve even got a lot of buildings being squashed. It could be thought of as a Godzilla spinoff of sorts and I’d say that the film holds up pretty well. It doesn’t really make any big mistakes.

The film starts with Joe and Sam crashing on an island where they decide to get some fuel and supplies so they can sail off again. Unfortunately, it won’t be easy as the villagers don’t take kindly to outsiders and won’t talk to them. Joe locates the village leader who also refuses to help, but it turns out that this is because he has a vested interest in keeping people away. Joe and Sam quickly blackmail the guy out of some of his valuables and also decide to take down the famed Gorgo while they’re at it. If they manage to beat him they’ll become rich!

I actually saw this one alongside another Kaiju film which I’ll be reviewing soon. They were both pretty similar although I’d say that this one was a little better as we got more monster action. Sometimes with these films you get worried because the monster doesn’t appear much, but fear not! Gorgo gets a lot of screen time and it felt like he got to show up almost right away. Once he does appear he is here to stay so you can look forward to a whole lot of nice monster carnage.

Now, it’s always a little dicey to see humans preparing to capture a Kaiju. For one thing, it shows that they don’t even remotely fear the monster which is definitely not good for the Kaiju’s confidence. Additionally, it should be pretty hard to take down a monster like this. I’m still a bit worried that in the new Godzilla film we actually might see the government take down Godzilla early on only to release him to fight the others once the danger is near. While Gorgo puts up a good fight, he ultimately isn’t able to stop the humans.

Now, in Gorgo’s defense, he’s a monster so it’s not like he knows strategy or anything like that. There is only so much he can do once the humans have a way past his size. Gorgo has a great design and a cool roar. He’s a fun Kaiju through and through so I wouldn’t call him a pushover despite losing. It would have been nice if he could have outsmarted the humans or something, but this isn’t really that kind of film. Not saying that it can’t happen, but that the scenario was pretty unlikely from the start. There is a cool twist involving Gorgo though as nobody ever said he was the only creature out there.

It’s always nice to see a Kaiju team up and this film actually gives us one. Lets just say that Gorgo knows people in high places. The humans probably should have quit while they were ahead. I feel like the movie never really wants you to root for the humans though because it never even tries to make them all that likable. They just want to get rich, that’s basically all there is to their characters. Take the one scene where the museum guy shows up and asks them to bring Gorgo to him. They pretend to do so in order to keep up appearances, but then they head to the circus instead for the big bucks. You don’t want to trust Joe or Sam, they just want to be rich. Admittedly the museum guy didn’t seem all that smart though. I can’t think of any actual reason why they would want to listen to him. He was going to pay them pocket change, nothing that could really help them and they don’t seem like the scholarly type.

Gorgo is a pretty short film and so even with a basic plot synopsis I’ve already told you a great deal. If you like the classic Kaiju films then I expect you’ll like this one. The writing is on point and Gorgo can hold his own as an antagonist. If there is any weakness here it is in the fact that there aren’t two opposing Kaiju so we don’t get to have a big fight scene between them. That would have been pretty awesome. Still, we did get to see Gorgo lay waste to the city and that’s always a staple of the genre.

Overall, Gorgo is a solid movie. I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s a bit straight forward in that you can probably guess most of the film right away. There aren’t a whole lot of twists and turns although there is one which I thought was executed really well. It’s a shame that Gorgo has basically vanished from the public eye. I feel like he had potential to be one of the next big Kaiju out there. He’d probably need some new abilities to hang with the more modern monsters, but that would be easy enough to accomplish. Ah well, odds are you haven’t seen this film yet so I’d recommend changing that ASAP!

Overall 7/10

NCAA Football 12 Review


It’s time for my NCAA Football marathon to come to a close. It’s been a good run but they must all end someday. This one actually does change the gameplay up quite drastically compared to the last games which were pretty much identical. Unfortunately I don’t think it works quite as well as the last few. This one slows down the pacing so it’s more of a classic football simulator. Not a bad idea, but after playing the fast paced ones it is just hard to go back.

The array of game modes are pretty much the same as always. I’m not sure why they listed quick play as a new mode inside of the game, but I’ll assume that was a quick misdirect to try and get more sales in and trick people into thinking there is more content. It wouldn’t exactly be the most sinister thing that EA ever did after all. There’s franchise mode, practice, and a bunch of other options. I believe the servers are likely down for this one so don’t expect to be getting into some crispy online battles just yet.

Either way the majority of your time in the game will be playing full Football matches which is why the gameplay is key. You can’t just cheese the game by running in with your quarterback anymore. This game really encourages you to run the ball with your running back as you would typically do in real life. It works well enough and for the record I was still able to win against the computer on Heisman level. It just meant playing very patiently and working on getting used to how this game rolls. For the first few drives I actually wasn’t able to score so I definitely did have to take a step back and re-evaluate how I was playing. Once I got the hang of it then it was off to the races. I found that the best plays were still slants and crossing patterns. The computer always seems to have a tough time with those no matter what year it is.

Surprisingly the computer wasn’t so good on offense this time around which is the only reason I was able to stay in the game. I was able to stop them many times. It almost felt like a glitch at points as the computers would try the same screen pass over and over again. They’d either run it or screen it, but they never really went for real throws. It happened so infrequently and that worked out for me since it’s hard to protect against the longer shots. I kept holding them to field goals so that was pretty cool. I still think something didn’t seem right. When zooming out to see the play it would also flicker at times so there may be something up with my copy after all.

Regardless, the gameplay is still a lot of fun. It may not be as fast as the others, but every aspect of the gameplay is still very polished. You have a lot of control over the player and there are so many different plays you can run. Each game will never feel quite the same as the last one with so many variables intact. Part of why I love the Football games is because of how fun and peaceful they are. You can get lost in these games for a long time as you just go play by play. Before you know it you’ll have gone through the full season. This definitely reminds me that I need to go and play the next Madden soon.

As for the graphics, they’re definitely on point as you would expect. Everything looks pretty sharp and while it isn’t a big change from the other games, this series has never looked bad. EA is always proud of their graphics so that doesn’t really come as a surprise. The sound effects are on point and the game holds up as well as you would expect it to on a technical level. There’s a lot of content here as I already mentioned so you don’t need to worry about replay value. Considering that you can get this game for a dollar now, that’s more than enough content to keep you busy.

Overall, NCAA Football continues to impress. It’s certainly the best ongoing sport series aside from Madden. If the games are still coming out then I’m pretty behind at this point since this is the latest saga in the series that I own. I’ll definitely take a look and see if I notice any newer ones next time I’m at Gamestop. I definitely recommend this game if you like Football and naturally I’d skip on it if you don’t. It’s the kind of game that completely depends on whether you enjoy the sport so you’ll likely know right away whether this is the game for you or not. Now I’ve gotten my sport backlog down to 37 games which is pretty cool. You’ll be seeing it at 0 before you know it!

Overall 9/10

Valley of The Dragons Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a pretty misleading title. The beginning had a good premise but once the time travel occurred it quickly fell out the window. Now, I do like time travel but I prefer to go forward in time rather than backwards. If you ask me it’s just a lot more fun that way. There’s not much in the past that interests me, at least not when you get into the caveman era.

The film starts with two guys about to have a duel to the death. Apparently, they seem to like the same maiden and naturally one of them has to die for this. They ready their guns and move a few paces to take their shot but that’s when an earthquake occurs and scatters them to the winds. When they get back up they appear to be on a new planet. They’ve done their first dimension jump and are in the distant past where “dragons” currently roam. Now, you can make the case that it’s past Earth or another planet but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a scene where they notice that the stars don’t match so it’s probably a new world. They each end up going to different cave factions that have been warring with each other for eons. Can they help the two teams make peace or will they all die against the monsters?

As far as the dragons are concerned you shouldn’t get your hopes too high. Their appearances are few and far between. If we’re being honest the big one doesn’t appear til the end. Most of the little creatures running around are the kimono dragons which are basically just lizards. They aren’t exactly all that scary. The big one is fun enough but definitely pretty mindless and lets the heroes attack him over and over again until they eventually take him down. If he had done just about anything else then he could have won. The monster still did rack up a decent body count I suppose.

One weakness with the film is definitely the whole caveman element. I’ve never cared much for the trope of having the main guy try to teach English to these guys. For one thing, Hector isn’t all that understanding and gets frustrated pretty quick. Does he really expect them to learn English overnight? His voice can also be a bit annoying but that part’s not bad as it fits the character. He’s supposed to be annoying.

The other guy (Michael) is a lot more patient with the cave people and becomes the leader real quick. I suppose I would probably say that he is the better character of the two as he had more personality. He also became a leader real quick and did most of the hard work in the climax. I wouldn’t say either character was all that great, but he got the job done.

The writing was reasonably solid I suppose. The scenes with the ancient people weren’t that good but the banter with the two leads was pretty decent. It’s always god to have a dynamic where the two characters initially want to destroy each other but are then forced to work together. It is a bit clichéd I’ll admit but as this was back in the 60s it pulls this off unironically.

Then it almost goes without saying that the romance element is very weak here. The cave women basically throw themselves at the main two guys since they dominate the pack so easily but it’s all so fast and doesn’t feel real. We even get jealousy plots and also see why the two factions are warring from the start. Without the main two guys keeping them in line it is pretty clear that the two factions can’t control themselves and would be picking fights constantly. Having one “strong but not smart” character is enough for most films, make that the majority of the cast and then the movie has really got a big problem to deal with.

I can’t really say that the pacing was all that good either. While it almost goes without saying that a boring plot will drag on, this one really goes as slowly as possible. One scene in particular that really takes forever is when the heroes are trying to stab the giant monster. It’s the same action over and over again for at least 10-20 minutes with no variation. After a point it just comes across as having no real meaning and the scenes are complete filler. The action isn’t filler, but redoing it over and over certainly is. You could tell that the writers had run out of material by the end.

Overall, Valley of the Dragons is a film that was pretty decent for the most part but the actual plot holds it back quite a bit. It should have been a film about the leads getting trapped in some kind of vicious world for sure, but not one this far back in the past. If it was more modern we could have gotten around all of the scenes of them trying to teach the people everything and more banter instead. Of course by this point I am describing an entirely different film, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. If you don’t mind the past element then I think you’ll reasonably like this movie since it’s the main thing holding it back. Just don’t go in expecting a lot of actual dragons.

Overall 4/10