Kingsman: The Secret Service

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WARNING: Mild Spoilers

Harry Hart owes a life debt to a fallen friend, Lancealot, whilst working for a socially elites group of people who are Britain’s best undercover spies called: Kingsmen. They all take names from King Arthers fairy tales, and some even exude qualities of their mythical counter parts. Regardless, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin grew up as a social delinquent. He eventually gets arrested and calls on the Kingsmen to get him out of trouble. They do and decide to recruit him for their undercover training program.

I consider most British comedies wittier then most American comedies due to well placed sight gags or very well crafted dialogue. This one lacked in some areas on good gags and smarm, but it made up for with well crafted crass humor. Colin Firth played the straight man to Taron Egerton‘s young and foul mouthed teenager. Many examples can be seen in the various trailers out there. Other times its simple pokes at American stereotypes or in your face violence. Oddly enough I found myself snickering at some of the violent scenes involving a racist church group they eventually investigate. Other times it was at the blatant references to just about every other spy film ever made while still trying to formulate a ironic style of humor while still honoring the genera.

I didn’t care for the film’s jumbled development. Many times Taron Egerton’s character jumps between lovable dumbass to killing machine back to being a arrogant prick. You’d think after months of training he’d know how to do something simple like open a parachute. Also the anti-US American undertones were a tad obnoxious. They were consistent and only seemed to be berating the ‘evil corporate American companies are trying to kill you’ lunacy that seems to plague every other story now-a-days. Also it isn’t plausible that one of the crucial parts of the story involves mass genocide and all the billionaires in the world just being OK with it. Because once society has toppled what good is their money? Who will run their power plants or make their food? Oh wait. No one will, because everyone is DEAD. There’s a definite spike between different styles of humor after a main character dies. In the beginning it’s a mixture of mellow, wit, wry, and crass humor. After the main character dies then it becomes oafish and pure crass. It isn’t that its too jarring, but it’s REALLY noticeable. So if you think all of a sudden the jokes become crappier then thats just letting you know you’re near the end of the movie.

Colin Firth was decent as a stern sophisticated person without giving into his past experience with roles. Mark Strong played a good guy for once and while not showing a lot of strength in anything he did seem to know how seem convincing he was a master of all trades. Mark Hamill is a bumbling professor and plays it rather well. It’s different since he usually plays a stronger male role, even as a villain. Taron Egerton was good as a jackass, but most of his acting was reactionary due to the script so I don’t think it’s a good example of his acting. Samuel L Jackson was great as the villain, but it seemed like he needed to tighten up some areas and be a little more aggressive or assertive. Other wise he was rather good and made someone with a lisp rather creepy.

Most spy films that try to be comedies fail by hiring writers who don’t know how to blend the two genera or the comedy becomes too experimental. This was a nice balance of everything without having one genera overpower the other. The characters were likable, even if mildly cliché. The story might be bland to some people, but how everything is set up separates it from the rest of the genera. Kingsman might not go down as a comedy classic, but it will definitely be brought up in conversation frequently.

See it in theaters.

7.5/10

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Movie Review

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WARNING: SPOILERS

In the long slew of gross out movies that Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson seem to be fond of making this is probably their darkest yet. The crew from the previous film is back, with exception to Adam (John Cusack), and are shoved into the future. There they try to find out what happens to Lou (Rob Corddry) and why people are trying to kill him. As they bumble about they run into a few new faces and they find out that his life, as well as a few others, are completely in shambles.

Now usually some sequels either extend the series or do a good job at filling all plot holes. This successfully only adds more plot holes and leaves the previous ones unanswered. They only briefly bring back Chevy Chase‘s character (the Hot Tub Repairman) for two sentences and then disappears again. Thus not answering why he’s there nor how he can just come and go as he pleases. They joke about Cusack‘s character disappearing and then don’t explain why. Then they form new plot holes like why Lou decided to become a jerk again since at the end of the previous movie he seemed rather generous with his friends and liked his son. So he went from loud lummox of the group, to being the most immoral person in the film. It’s suggested he slept with peoples wifes and did more drugs then before with reason as to why and would verbally abuse his coworkers. They also bring up Adam Jr (Adam Scott) who is suppose to be Adam’s son, but don’t explain that well.

The crux of any comedy is the jokes. They deviated from the previous formula they had and make just about every joke darker or gross. One of the grossest scenes in the movie highlights the slow moral degrade of most TV game shows, but it takes it too far when they do more then imply possible forced sexual acts. It ruined the latter half of the movie for me since it made me wonder if I heard sounds of rape or just someone who was grunting in pain due to a lot of electricity flowing through their body. Other times they are just hating on Jacob (Clark Duke) and it isn’t funny because most of it is from Lou and he has no room to talk. It’s a total oxymoron for someone who has poor impulse control to throw shade about his son who’s just hasn’t found himself yet.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 wasted a movie going experience by rehashing the previous storyline. With the small, and ignorable plot holes, of the previous movie were only exasperated in the fact that they were brought back up with stupid dialogue, and just as quickly dismiss. Then sprinkle some very disgusting humor and offset it with other forms of humor and it makes them feel largely incongruous. Quality doesn’t seem to mean anything this time since the jokes are guilty of being average or bland. None of the characters developed any and even at the end they are only slightly less crass. So it seemed like a fruitless endeavor for them.

I’d wait for this one on DVD before thinking about seeing it.

5.5/10

Bioshock Infinite: The Complete Edition PS3 Video Game Review

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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS

You are Booker DeWitt a private investigator for hire. You’ve been sent to a city in the sky called Columbia that has succeeded from the United States of America and is run by a man named Zachary Hale Comstock. Somewhere in the city he’s holding a woman named Elizabeth. The mysterious client states that if you bring her back, he’ll wipe away all of your gambling debt.

I originally didn’t want to review this game because it has been done to death. Everyone who hasn’t lived under a rock, or granite like substance, has noticed this game and give it perfect score. I liked the first one and is probably one of the better FPSs of its time. The originals story stood out as being completely depressing and at that time it was different because it didn’t make you a completely infallible person. Also its gripping seeing as you’re trapped between two douches fighting for a city in total chaos and all you’re trying to do is figure out why you’re there and how to freaking get out alive. The continued mystery and noir themes would build tension throughout the game without making it feel suffocating.

This takes the same premise as the first one. You’re some average bloke who can’t remember anything and goes to a mysterious place to look for answers. Sound familiar!? Good, because there are very few changes. They have their wacky characters that are entertaining, possibly incestual, but most either not explored enough or you end up killing them. This, like the previous one, has a lot of gray characters instead of being absolute good or bad, like most FPSs. This one takes a bit of a chipper tone since its colored as a racist southern version of Disneyland. It was neat to walk amongst the city, and it’s citizens, before everything was thrown into pure anarchy mostly due to their own stupidity.

The beginning was good. It took the ‘damsel in distress’ story and warped it to make her more then just a powerless girl. In fact it alluded that she might be some kind of God-like creature. Anyway, it blunders about and introduces allies and villains in awkward ways. Like I had to look for a power up in one location that was ruled over by a local gang. The only option was to go in and kill them all. So the only purpose for them to be in the story was to guard that single power up. I thought this was a bit of a waste since they were a kinda gray group (morality wise) who only wanted to be recognized for their deeds. So much more could have been developed with them and instead they were killed off really early. Then one group was introduced, they steal your stuff, and then try to kill you later despite helping them out. This irritated me because they knew you had a time traveling girl on your side. It shouldn’t surprise them if you ‘come back from the dead.’ Also they seem to flip flop on agreements with little to no warning. It’s just stupid plot twists that had me rolling my eyes a lot.

I really don’t like that I have to give this game a low score because everything was going swimmingly up until the games ending. The ending really ruined it for me. It reminded me of several 1970s sci-fi films where the good guy is somehow a alternate time version of the bad guy. In this case DeWitt if he seeks forgiveness in one reality he becomes a racist stereotype of the south and builds Columbia. If he doesn’t, in some alternate universe, he does fuck all till he gets a invitation from someone to go find Elizabeth. So in other words he becomes the villain in one universe and in the other he’s a completely depressed alcoholic in another. I don’t have any problem with the second outcome. However our wondrous dumbfuck Elizabeth does.

So as the ending roles it’s kinda open to interpretation so I can only tell you what I got from it. She basically explains that’s shes a time traveling omnipotent God like entity who can see different universes, times, and can see how everything happens. She basically leads DeWitt in believing everything happens the exact same way, in every universe, and he has no choice but to do the same stuff over and over again. This is bullshit if you’ve read anything about time travel EVER! She says everything repeats itself until he figures out what needs to be done. Eventually it strikes him that in order to prevent all the future tragedies he needs to kill Comstock at birth. So he asks her to help him kill the guy. She brings him back to some open void in time and lets him know he’s Comstock and DeWitt and in order to destroy a possible bad future she has to kill him.

I thought this ending was total and utter crap. If she wanted to prevent a ‘bad future,’ for other people, that meant she would eventually have to kill everyone else too to stop them from possibly becoming corrupt power hungry maniacs. Also if she is some kind of time traveling entity then she could have easily manipulated any instance in time to her, or societies, advantage. NOPE! Instead she, and her very narrow perspective on it all, choses to jump through time and universes to kill this same guy over and over again, regardless if he turns out to be a good guy or not. This is pretty much is what’s theorized at the end when multiple versions of herself show up. Instead of going through time, or other universes, and fixing things she has a fetish for killing this one guy over and over again.

On top of that it’s the most drawn out and pretentious thing imaginable. Instead of doing the simple thing and putting a bullet in his head and moving on, tear a spot in time and turning his brain into pudding, or letting him get killed by someone in Columbia, but she doesn’t. She instead goes all out theatrical and drags everything out so long that it makes the player wonder if everything, even Columbia, was intentionally setup to trap this one guy. She has him relive everything in Columbia (all the fighting, clue finding, tragedy, etc.) and holds this long elaborate plot to show him how guilty he should feel. In turn this makes him feel bad and she opts to kill him. She’s a fucking sadist in my opinion. If you download the DLC Burial At Sea then you’ll see that she jumps into another dimension and goes out of her way to kill him all over again. So not only does she lack a moral compass, but she lacks common sense, is exceedingly lacking self control, but on top of all that she has no fucking clue what she’s doing.

The only good things about this game is the gameplay and graphics. The gameplay is just like the last and has a lot of features added to it. It’s taken the FPS format and added battlemage capabilities. This means you basically play as mixture of warrior and wizard style of combat. You have a gun in your right hand and use your left to cast spells. This adds some great combos and make some of the tougher battles a little more strategic.

There’s a lot of variety in both strategy and kill combos. Everything can be upgraded, except DeWitt and Elizabeth. The only addition that is noteworthy is the clothing. Some areas have clothes that can give you special abilities. It’s a nice perk, but unless it’s something outside normal gameplay (like the shield) then most aren’t noticeable when being worn. Like one piece of clothing lets you run super fast after you lose 50% of your life for about 5 seconds. The only added ability that I didn’t care for was the shield. It seems to be gone after 2 hits most of the time and then health, ammo, and salts are nearly everywhere you turn so if they are going to try to make things so piss easy why bother with a shield at all, especially if it’s gone after a few hits? Also there is a hook rail system that you can jump on to run away from enemies. I found this obnoxious because it made it difficult to aim at anyone and other then some linear story progression it’s mostly useless.

Another bonus is Elizabeth acts as a companion that actually does something, other then die or get in the way. In combat she’ll throw you health, ammo, and salts to help keep you alive. The odd thing is that th AI completely ignores her. There were many times when she was crouched down behind a crate and the enemies went around her side to get to me. I thought that it was strange that there wasn’t any interaction her since the whole town was seeking me out to A) kill me and B) return the girl to her tower. Even if I did die in a heated battle she’d somehow drag me to the side and revive me, for a price. Again, she either did this ‘unnoticed’ or the enemies ignored her.

The graphics are probably a example of the best the PS3 can offer. The bloom is proportioned nicely throughout the game, it gives characters shadows on their face, and adjusts as characters walk. The animations break some of the immersion because they really aren’t expressive outside of cut scenes and give some dramatic dialog a jejune delivery. There were rarely any hangups while rendering the game. The few that did seem to glitch were light rendering errors. Other times it would seem to want to freeze the screen and load for no apparent reason. For example: it would take only a short time to load the game and then when you moved to another area on the same map it sometimes would popup saying it was loading, but not show the stagnate loading screen. Other then that they did a great job making the characters both look kinda cartoonie and lifelike.

This is probably the worst of the series to me. It takes old sci-fi stories from the 1970s and beats it like a dead horse till you see it’s bones. The cliché contrived betrayals happen, the good guy is secretly the bad guy or the other way around, blatant bad guy stereotypes are used a lot, and then it has you reflect on the previous two Bioshock games. Sure it’s fun, fast paced, and has a lot of the game play elements, and more, of the previous two for everyone to enjoy, but I hate this story.

If you want something that has good gameplay then buy this, just try your best to ignore the story.

3.0/10

 

Seventh Son Movie Review

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Master Gregory is the last living warrior of a clan, called Spooks, known for fighting off evil spirits. His claim to fame is that he imprisoned Mother Malkin, a all powerful witch, a long time ago. The local church informs him that the a local girl is possessed and he sees to if after getting throughly drunk. At the local church they do their best to exorcise the child. He performs his own counter spells and out pops Mother Malkin. As she falls into his trap, she kills his apprentice, and escapes. She then goes out to rebuilt her fallen empire. Gregory then sets off to find the “Seventh Son” to help defeat her before she can rule the world.

This is one of the most standard movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s predictable, has a steady pace if not slow at times, and most of all it’s kinda boring. It falls along the same storyline of a guy having some need to find the mystical chosen one for some exceedingly difficult task. Just like the Matrix, the Hobbit, or even most of the Elder Scrolls videogame series. After that there’s a mild kinda training montage with a series of tests. Then theres really contrived love subplot between the chosen one and a villain. It’s explained, but all the interactions are something to be desired. Half the time it seemed like he was just a horny dude and the ladies actions were so obvious the blind could see what she’s doing. Then theres the other love story subplot between Master Gregory and Mother Malkin that is nearly non-existent. Plot holes this size aren’t forgivable and I lost interest about the two characters whenever they interacted. From a viewer perspective its discouraging because the back story between the two love birds needs to be told in order to place empathy and some kind of concern for their welfare.

That’s the main problem that this movie has: it struggles to develop anything. The characters are almost copy pasted out of other movies. Like: Gregory is the stereotypical war vet who’s a cynic and drinks too much. Thats only every other hero ever told in just about ever movie/book/video game genera out there. Malkin is the bad guy in the film with little to no explanation as to why she wants to rule over the world other then “just because.” At least over the top James Bond villains had an excuse. Some hated society, some wanted to change society, and with Malkin it’s implied she wants to destroy it or get revenge, but its not throughly talked about. Its appalling that the main two characters are as deep as a puddle. Everything is really spelled out in simple sentences and nothing is drawn out to any length to give a impression that there’s any growth amongst anything.

Jeff Bridges add some character to Master Gregory, but comes off as being completely odd. He talks with some kind of accent, but since no one else does, nor anywhere they visit, seems to have this kind of accent it sticks out like a soar thumb. Some people are sure to like his strange characters quips, but its usually hit or miss with this movie depending on the scenes circumstances. Ben Barns was probably the worst in the film. His acting and delivery on most spots were stale. Also the chemistry between him and Alicia Vikander was exceedingly forced. Alicia Vikander was OK for the most part, but failed to get emotional intense when needed. Julianna Moore is as good as ever, but her character was so average that I don’t think her acting could help that.

The Seventh Son boils down to having a stale plot and some very average fighting scenes. They spent more time changing into dragons or fighting then doing anything else. Everyones acting is here and there and is jumbled between good acting and rather stale pieces. The visuals are alright, but with so many contrived and cliche things thrown on top of it it doesn’t do anything to improve the situation. For a fantasy movie this is a very average experience and I’d recommend almost anything that’s come out in the last 10 years over this.

I’d wait till this one came out on DVD.

4.5/10