The level of detail is awe-inspiring. Not just in the graphics, but the moment by moment gameplay as well. The world and its inhabitants behave so realistically it’s almost scary. This has the potential to be Rockstar’s crowning achievement and one of the greatest open world games ever created.
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Michael Rodgers, Eva Allen, Scott Hylands, Marilyn Norry, Rondel Reynoldson
Release date: December 3, 2010
Beyond the Black Rainbow is a flawed, yet interesting and very unique film. It was the debut of Panos Cosmatos, the director and writer of Mandy. A science fiction horror film, it is about a young woman with psychic abilities who is being kept captive at a secretive institute by a creepy doctor played by Michael Rodgers.
Beyond the Black Rainbow is the kind of film that doesn’t make your viewing experience easy. It’s a very deliberately paced, clinical film in the vein of Stanley Kubrick; with characters that don’t particularly come off as emotional or human, except for one. Its plot is very minimalistic, requiring viewers to slowly piece together what exactly is going on. A lot of people will come away from it thinking that it’s boring, but sticking with it is a rewarding experience.
The film’s aesthetics are its strongest attributes; thanks to its direction, cinematography, and score. As mentioned above, Cosmatos was clearly influenced by Stanley Kubrick. His cold and calculating direction giving me flashbacks to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Every shot of this film is masterfully framed and beautiful to look at, yet also gives a haunting vibe. There are scenes and images in this film that will not leave your brain when you see them. The standout example being a flashback in the middle of the film that is surreal horror at its finest. The uncomfortable synthesizer soundtrack doesn’t exactly help either. Nothing comes across as quite human or natural in its neatness. The same can be said of the characters and their actors’ performances. Michael Rodgers as our antagonist is quite frightening throughout; first in an understated way, and then in a way that is the stuff of nightmares. Our protagonist named Lena is the sole sympathetic character in the whole film. She’s a captive in a cold, uncaring facility that she wants to escape. It would not surprise me if Cosmatos was inspired by Elfen Lied, nor would it surprise me if this film inspired the Duffer Brothers during the creation of Stranger Things.
Despite having great elements, Beyond the Black Rainbow is held back from being a great film. The plot is extremely bare bones, to the point of near non-existence. Its mostly just a series of events that happen, with the one flashback in the middle of the film to give events some more context. The third act is when things at last come together, and the film’s surreal horror kicks into high gear. Also, while beautiful, the film will linger on shots too long at times; coming across as pretentious.
It’s a flawed gem, and many will walk away from it feeling they had their time wasted. Regardless, Beyond the Black Rainbow is a nice throwback film that justifiably has a cult following. For all its faults, it was the arrival of a genuinely talented filmmaker with a unique style and vision. Anyone looking for a more unconventional horror experience should give it a shot.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Game played on: PS4
Release date: September 17, 2002/ March 28, 2017 (PS4 re-release)
Kingdom Hearts is the first game in Square Enix’s long running and exceptionally popular series of the same name. The premise of this whole series is so ridiculous that it’s almost hard to believe it exists. The series spawned from a partnership between Square Enix and Disney, featuring characters from both companies across various properties. Spiky haired JRPG characters and Disney animated characters in the same series? Sounds dumb right? Yet here we are in 2018 and the series is still going strong, with its tenth entry, the third numbered title in the series set to be released January 29, 2019.
The first Kingdom Hearts‘ intro and ending theme is titled “Simple and Clean”, and in addition to being a really good song, it’s a perfect summation of the game itself. It has the simplest plot, simplest gameplay mechanics, and arguably the cleanest execution of the series’ concept. Simple as a word has a stigma attached to it, especially in regards to describing a work of fiction. This is a mistake, as simplicity is like anything else: only good or bad depending on the execution. Kingdom Hearts’ simplicity is its biggest strength, even as succeeding games in the series evolved mechanically and plotwise.
Kingdom Hearts introduces us to Sora, a boy who spends his time on a small island with his friends Riku and Kairi. He dreams of getting off his humble island to go off and see different worlds, while also competing with Riku to see who is stronger. He gets his wish when one day, a group of monsters called the Heartless invade his island, separating him and his friends, and leaving him stranded on another world. He also discovers he is the chosen wielder (or so we’re led to believe) of a sacred weapon called the Keyblade. Meanwhile, King Mickey has left to investigate why the worlds are falling to the Heartless, forcing the royal magician Donald Duck and captain of the guard Goofy to search for him. Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s paths cross eventually, and they decide to team up to find their friends and save the other worlds from the Heartless.
Kingdom Hearts’ plot and characters are fairly straightforward, and that’s why it works. It’s an action JRPG with a plot straight out of a shonen anime about a plucky underdog fighting against evil forces way out of his league. As his adventure goes along, Sora makes friends with various other characters. It mixes the plot conventions of JRPGs with the ones found in Disney’s various properties. Sora as the playable character is for the most part lacking anything one would call a character arc. He’s an optimistic young boy eager to take on the world from the start, and remains that way throughout the game. He has his high points and low points, but he is otherwise a very static character meant to be a stand in for younger audiences. Yet he is also a likable enough to be appreciated on his own merits. The most well developed side character is his rival/best friend Riku. Riku’s journey has him slowly go down a darker path, fueled both by good intentions and selfish jealousy. Kairi’s fine, but for most of the game she’s a damsel in distress. The goal to find and save her works because during the tutorial level, she shows herself to be a likable and smart character. The villains are mostly from Disney’s films, with the main one for most of the game being Maleficent.
Level design encourages exploration and freedom. There are plenty of platforming sections, playing into that feeling of adventure that the game is trying to create. That being said, the platforming in this game can be aggravating. Sora’s jump is not always accurate, so jumps you should be able to make can end up forcing you to go back to where you were and try again. Not every part of a world is available on the first go, and some require abilities that you will get later in the game. This sort of backtracking, instead of being tedious, actually ends up making the player feel more powerful. You feel like you are becoming stronger and conquering obstacles you thought were insurmountable, and you’ll be rewarded with rare and useful items for your trouble. The best worlds of the game are: Wonderland, Halloween Town, Deep Jungle, and Hollow Bastion. They play to the game’s strengths the most. The worst one without a doubt is Atlantica. This world is an absolute chore to play through because of the lack of mobility. You and your party members are forced to play in mermaid bodies and swim around, which is completely at odds with how you play the rest of the game. The combat and the way the player navigates Atlantica just does not work, and it is a horrible experience. It was one of my happiest moments playing the game to finish that world and leave it behind.
The game’s combat is a unique beast compared to the way combat works in the other games of the series. It’s for the most part slow and weighty, not like the fast paced hack-n-slash combat of Kingdom Hearts II. You have to put thought into every action you take while fighting, especially in boss battles. You need to read enemy patterns to dodge, and if you can’t dodge, block so that you can unleash a counterattack when they’re stunned. I played on the normal difficulty, and I got thrashed a fair number of times. You have to play smart or you’ll be seeing the GAME OVER screen a lot. The enemies have a lot of variety to them, and you’ll always need to find the perfect way to neutralize and defeat them. The “Final Mix” version that I played as part of the remastered collection has bonus bosses you can fight, but I got scared off of them just after getting destroyed by the first one. One of them in particular was added to foreshadow events that will happen later in the series. This game has got some top tier bosses. Some of them are terrible though, like Ursula, but anything involving Atlantica is in general terrible. Final Mix also added new combat moves to help it fit more mechanically with the faster pace the later games had.
The worst aspect of gameplay by far is the Gummi Ship segments. In order to explore new worlds, you first need to play through these Star Fox-esque, rail shooter segments that are for the most part lacking in any strategy or fun. You can upgrade your Gummi, but the process is so cumbersome that it’s not even worth it. I didn’t and I still managed to get through them just fine. They’re tedious, drag the game down, and I wish they had just been cut out all together. The AI of your companions has a bad reputation amongst players, and while they’re not exactly smart, I also find that they aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. At the beginning it’s fairly rough and Donald either heals you at the least necessary time or doesn’t at the most, but as you and they level up, you’re able to make up for their flaws.
Kingdom Hearts’ soundtrack is perhaps one of the greatest gaming has ever had. The remastered version I played used an orchestral version of the original’s, with nothing short of spectacular results. The menu theme “Dearly Beloved” is iconic for a very good reason, being equal parts bittersweet and uplifting, and Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean” will pierce its way into your heart both times it plays during the intro and outro of the game. The whole game is full of great music pieces. The world themes are all great too, even the worlds which I didn’t like such as Atlantica.
The visuals of the game, with the help of an HD upgrade, still look great. There are cases where characters’ lip-synching and facial animations go completely static at random times, but during the important emotional moments they get it together. Nomura’s character design and the art direction of the game are visually striking and unique. The voice acting is unrefined and not all there like it would be in later entries, but they do a good job overall with the material they’re given. Hayley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere as Sora, Riku, and Kairi respectably are still trying to get a grip on what kind of characters they’re playing. The dialogue of Kingdom Hearts has always been…cheesy at best. At worst it’s completely laughable. The PS4 remaster also ups the framerate to 60fps.
Kingdom Hearts, for all its rough edges, still holds up decades later. It all started here, and there’s something magical at seeing the beginnings of such an enduring franchise. With Kingdom Hearts III mere months away and the entire series available for this console generation, now is the time to get started. Do not skip a single game or compilation movie. You WILL be lost otherwise. Hell you still might be lost even after playing and seeing everything.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Game played on: PS4
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Spider-Man has a long and overall fairly successful run in the video game medium. I’ve played my fair share of Spider-Man games all the way from the beat ’em up PS1 games to the widely acclaimed Spider-Man 2 for the PS2. That game was widely considered to be the best Spider-Man game ever. Until now that is, for a new challenger has emerged to claim the title.
Straight up, this is not only the best Spider-Man game, not only one of the best superhero games ever, but it’s one of the best games so far of this generation. Insomniac Games stepped up to the plate and delivered on all fronts. What the Arkham games did for Batman, this game has done for Spider-Man.
The player has never been this immersed into the life of Spider-Man before. The most important and present aspect of gameplay, web-slinging, is perfect here. There’s true momentum, it’s fast, requires good timing and genuine skill while never being too difficult, and most importantly: it’s fun. There are fast travel options in the game, but navigating the city is so fun that I usually didn’t take them. Truly skilled players will probably be able to free roam for hours without touching the ground. Combat is similarly challenging but fun. It takes clear inspiration from the Arkham games, with a mixture of stealth and brawling while also feeling like its own thing. In the Arkham games, disarming opponents with guns was a necessity to live, here you can dodge and dance around enemies on the ground and in the air, using your fists, web-shooters, and other gadgets you’ll get throughout the game. There’s also a Ubisoft open world game inspired upgrade system to improve your combat and web-slinging abilities. You can also upgrade various Spidey gadgets you’ll acquire as you play, but you’ll need more than just experience to do that. There’s a lot to experiment and have fun with. It was a little disappointing to see Insomniac added towers to the game, which reveal side activities and collectibles on the map. While thankfully climbing them is not necessary, you have to go through a tedious process of moving your joysticks into the right positions in order to get the right frequency and fix them. There was no reason to add them other than to give the player more work to do. I know some people will complain about the quick time events, but I’ll argue they work here. They never take up a majority of the gameplay, you always have ample time to complete them, and some of them won’t even penalize you with failure (the side mission ones). They also come in different styles, so tedium never becomes a problem. Their execution fits with the kinetic pace of the gameplay.
You won’t only play as Spider-Man, but also Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. Their gameplay segments consist entirely of stealth and hacking. Playing as them, while having flashes of entertainment, was not nearly as fun as being Spider-Man. The stealth is clumsy and too easy, due to the enemy AI being easily exploitable. Gameplay mechanics such as hacking enemy drones, distracting enemies, or tasering them are underutilized and shallow. They’re just not challenging or fun gameplay sections, except for one of them where you get to play with both Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Puzzles are included in all three character moments to break up the tedium, and will require some brainwork to solve. Due to them also giving the player extra experience and tokens for upgrading gadgets in some cases, these are welcome deviations from normal gameplay.
The game’s story is probably the best Spider-Man story in recent memory. He’s been subjected to a slew of bad writers and story arcs in the comics, becoming a shadow of his former self. Here, Insomniac actually progresses Peter Parker as a character in meaningful ways. He’s been Spider-Man for eight years in this continuity, is no longer with the Daily Bugle, and has a new list of responsibilities and problems to deal with. The events of the game test Parker physically and mentally as tries to balance his normal life with his superhero life. It has the atmosphere and pacing of a well written comic book storyline, where the stakes slowly build up to an emotional and exciting third act. Yet this is no lighthearted adventure, but one where Peter and his friends suffer from genuine tragedy. Even the villains have suffered loss, and are trying to rectify the wrongs they’ve endured. It’s a surprisingly somber affair, and it ends on an optimistic but bittersweet note. No spoilers, but the main villain of this game is now my favorite iteration of that character in any Spider-Man continuity. Their arc is extremely tragic, and I felt exactly what Peter was feeling as they were forced to bring them down.
There are a ton of side missions to do. Some involve collecting items for yourself or side characters, while others are more involved, such as tailing someone being blackmailed, or trying to find a fake Spider-Man who is fighting crimes on their own. There’s always something to do, and they’re a good way of getting experience and tokens to upgrade your gear and unlock new costumes with special powers. They just stay away from repetitiveness by giving you the chance to show off your abilities, and giving some info on Spidey and side characters’ pasts.
There are also some absolutely outstanding boss battles in this game, while others are on the okay side. The weakest one really doesn’t require anything other than reading his pattern and good reaction timing, but the best challenge every skill you have and everything you’ve learned.
The visuals and presentation are nothing short of phenomenal. Facial and body animations during gameplay and cutscenes are excellent. The transitions between the two is often seamless, never taking you out of the moment. Yuri Lowenthal sets a new benchmark for his vocal performance as Spider-Man, showing off exceptional range and reminding you why he’s one of the best voice actors in the business. The framerate is smooth and I didn’t have a single slowdown while playing. The cutscenes are as professional as scenes you’d see in a Marvel movie or high budget TV show. I did encounter one annoying bug where a character stopped speaking, forcing me to restart the level, but nothing else comes to mind.
A nice touch that many will be happy with is the ability to choose your own costume. Find the newest suit not to your liking? Just switch back to the classic one. As mentioned before, they have special abilities, but you can attach those abilities to any suit you choose. It’s just good that Insomniac lets the player have such an option.
Spider-Man is a fantastic game that anyone can enjoy. Even people who aren’t Spidey fans will find something to enjoy here. It may not be perfect, but I would absolutely jump at the chance of a sequel, which going by the end credits scenes, there will definitely be one. In the meantime, there will be DLC on the way as early as next month. Looking forward to it.
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Lea Carpenter
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey
Release date: August 17, 2018
Hi! So you’re interested in going to the movies this weekend, but you don’t know what to see. You do like action movies. So do you wanna see an action movie with good performances, good direction, thrills, a decent plot to carry it, likable characters, and creative action set pieces? You do? Well then don’t see Mile 22 because it has the exact opposite of all the things I just mentioned.
Mile 22 is the latest Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg outing after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. I haven’t seen Lone Survivor, but I have seen the other two. This is by far the worst of the three that I’ve seen. Mile 22 is about a covert group of military operatives known as “Overwatch” (insert Overwatch video game reference/joke here). They’re the option when all other options fail. They do the dirty jobs that would get other agencies in front of Congress. Their latest mission is to extract an Indonesian police officer played by Iko Uwais out of the country, in exchange for information concerning cesium shipments, a toxic weapon that can cause Hiroshima levels of death. It becomes clear that Uwais is more than just a police officer, as the Indonesian government sends its own men after Overwatch to get him back. Also he’s a very good martial artist.
The biggest sin of Mile 22 is that there is not a single character that is even remotely worth caring about. All of them are cardboards with little backstory, and the backstories we do get are completely cliched. Mark Wahlberg’s character is a complete tool who pretty much plows his way through the film with almost no injuries or setbacks, and goes on these obnoxious, pretentious monologues that an edgy 14 year old who just discovered politics would be embarrassed by. Lauren Cohan’s character has a daughter and is a divorcee and apparently that’s enough to make us be concerned when she’s in danger. The one character that comes close to being interesting is Iko Uwais’, who is subject to a completely idiotic twist at the last moment. There are no interesting or likable characters, and I didn’t raise anything more than a shrug when someone ended up dead.
The plot of this film is just boring as its characters. It is totally by the numbers for pretty much its entire runtime. As mentioned earlier the only interesting plot developments come around the end, but they’re also stupid and out of left field. The way this movie ends is also just insulting. It ends on a cliffhanger clearly telegraphing a sequel. Do the research and you’ll learn that this is meant to be the start of a multimedia franchise, with said sequel already in development. Yeah, given the critical thrashing it’s received and the low box office receipts, those plans won’t last. At least with only a 94 minute length, I wasn’t bored for too long.
But hey, it’s an action movie. Maybe the plot and characters are bad but at least the action is good right? Nope. The action in this movie consists of quick cuts, shaky cam, and other tricks to make sure you are unable to see or enjoy anything that is going on. This is especially bad when you have Iko Uwais doing impressive martial arts during his action scenes. They’d be even more impressive if I could see what’s going on movie! The R-rating means that there’s at least an extra level of blood and graphic violence, so I guess that’s something that people can get a kick out of. If this was a PG-13 action movie it wouldn’t even have that going for it.
The acting and dialogue in this movie ranges from dull to comical. Wahlberg and John Malkovich don’t seem to be even trying. Ronda Rousey doesn’t even have a performance in this, much less a good one. She doesn’t even have a lazy one. The only two people who seemed to be doing the best with what they’re given are Lauren Cohan and Iko Uwais. As for the dialogue, it’s so edgy at times it can cut through rocks. F bombs and countless profanities are in the script in a desperate attempt to come across as mature. As mentioned before, Wahlberg’s character goes on pseudo-intellectual monologues that the film thinks are deep. Sorry, but they’re as shallow as a puddle. Luckily, they sometimes manage to cross the line into humorous territory. Not intentionally mind you, but hey take what you can get.
Anything else I forgot to mention? Well I don’t remember the score so that can’t be good.
This is easily the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s not outrageously terrible, but it is just such a cynical waste of potential. There are talented people involved in this. Peter Berg is a talented director, Mark Wahlberg is a talented actor. If it was more focused on being a good movie instead of setting up a franchise it hasn’t done anything to earn, and tried to be at least a little more creative, it could’ve been good. Instead, what we’re left with is just a boring, sub par action film that wants to start a franchise, but will most likely be forgotten about in a couple of weeks. It is a failure on all fronts and should be skipped. Go see Mission: Impossible-Fallout instead. That’s a good action movie with likable characters, a decent plot, and creative action set pieces.
Creators: Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta
Cast: Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Scott Glenn, Kevin Carroll, Ann Dowd, Jovan Adepo
Aired: June 29, 2014-June 4, 2017
Once the screen faded to black from the final shot of the final episode of The Leftovers and the credits rolled, I just sat on the couch for a little while to think about what I had just watched. You know a work is at the very least pretty good when it can just leave you sitting there for a few moments to think about your experience. Even now as I type this review, the experience I had with The Leftovers is still in my mind. I usually write down notes when I am playing a game, or watching a show or movie to review, but this is one of the times where I didn’t not out of negligence but because I was so absorbed in what I was viewing. I’ve seen a lot of TV shows, but I am certain I have never seen anything like The Leftovers. This is the best show I have ever watched.
Based off of a novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers aired on HBO from 2014 to 2017 for three seasons. The basic premise is that on October 14th, 2011, two percent of the world’s population totally disappears in a split second. They leave behind nothing and the rest of the world is left to wonder where and why they went. Those who disappeared that day are called the “Departed” and the day becomes memorialized as the “Sudden Departure”. Society as we know it experiences a drastic change from the trauma of losing so many loved ones and friends, yet leaving behind the majority of the human population. Cults form such as the Guilty Remnant: an order of people that dress in white clothes, chain-smoke, communicate only via written language, and try to remind people as much as possible about the family and friends they’ve lost. We mainly follow the characters of Kevin Garvey Jr., Nora Durst, Matt Jamison, and the Murphy family.
This is a show where plot isn’t the focus, but character is. The event itself isn’t important so much as the effect it had on our main cast. Kevin Garvey Jr. is the police chief of Mapleton when we first meet him, with his family having fallen apart because of the Sudden Departure. Nora Durst lost her husband and two children, while Matt Jamison is a reverend suffering a crisis of faith as a result of the Sudden Departure challenging everything he has believed in. The Murphy family shows up in the second season.
The lifeblood of this show is its amazing characters. They are all put through not just physical, but emotional trials in the show’s three season run. The solutions to their problems are never clear cut, but layered with questions often left unanswered. It would be easy for the Garvey family to have been happy and wholesome until the Sudden Departure happened, but the first season slowly but surely reveals this was never the case, and that the Sudden Departure was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. No single event broke these people, it was all a culmination of events and their responses to them. For the majority of the show, there is no villain or antagonist for the characters to rally against, but just people being as flawed as they are in real life.
It is not an easy show to get into. It is a slow show and the first season is the slowest of them all. It’s also the season with the smallest scope and the most dour tone with just a little humor for relief. It’s not a bad season by any means. It’s in fact a very good season, but it is the weakest one in the whole show. Of course, a very good season being the weakest one of your entire series is if anything another point in its favor. If you’re watching this show for answers as to what happened, then you’re watching it wrong. The Sudden Departure itself isn’t important, but the fallout from it is.
It’s in seasons two and three where The Leftovers reaches its full potential and becomes a masterpiece. It branches out and begins to tackle large questions along with its cast. We see what it’s like in a town in Texas where nobody departed, which has caused people to flock to it for various reasons. Then we move to Australia seven years after the Sudden Departure, where on the seventh anniversary people are wondering what it going to happen, if anything at all is going to happen, and what would it mean if something did happen. These are the kinds of ambitious ideas and tough to tackle questions that the audience has to deal with just like our characters. It also adds a variety of humor into the mix so that there is a balance of tone.
The Leftovers’ music is absolutely spotless. Need convincing? Go onto YouTube and look up the main theme, the first season’s title theme, and the second season’s title theme. It also has the best usage of “Take On Me” I have ever seen in the fourth episode of the third season.
Also spotless: the acting. My god are these performances all time great ones. The standouts among standouts are Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon. Theroux as Kevin Garvey masterfully portrays a strong man with also extreme vulnerability, struggling not just with his broken family but his unstable mind. Coon as Nora Durst is at the center of the most heartbreaking, emotionally draining moments of the entire series and every time manages to go above and beyond what is required of her. This is one of the roles that made her a star, and it is clear why. The chemistry between these two is palpable and real, and not once will you think otherwise. Liv Tyler also gives an excellent performance as Meg Abbott, a character whose arc may very well be the most disturbing and fascinating of them all. I could go on, but then we’d be here forever.
The episodes of the show were all either superb or quite good on a technical level. I can’t name one I would consider to be “bad” or even weak in comparison to its strongest episodes. Quite frankly most television episodes come off as weak compared to all episodes of The Leftovers. This show has some of the best episodes I’ve ever seen on TV. The three standouts of each season are to me: The Garveys at Their Best (S1E9), International Assassin (S2E8), and The Book of Nora (S3E8/Series finale). Most shows are lucky to have episodes half as good as these three are. The series finale is especially the best series finale I have ever seen. It answers the questions it has to, but doesn’t answer the ones best left unanswered. The finale’s final shot is also absolutely beautiful and powerful on a symbolic and emotional level. If you want specifics, then watch the show.
Damon Lindelof has as many detractors as he does defenders. I count myself in the latter category. I have not seen Lost so I cannot comment on its quality, but I am aware he was the main writer for Prometheus. However, if you want someone to blame for that film’s wasted potential: blame Ridley Scott. Scott pretty much threw out all of Lindelof’s suggestions and thus gave us the mess we know today. You can throw hate Lindelof’s way all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that Ridley Scott ruined Prometheus. I know I digressed but that had to be clarified. Quite frankly, even if Lindelof were responsible for the failures of Prometheus, after being responsible for this absolutely stunning work of art, he has more than atoned for his sins. I for one am okay with him adapting (or in his words “remixing”) Watchmen for television on HBO, in fact I am excited for it and am glad to see that he is still being given the greenlight to tackle ideas that others are afraid to.
The Leftovers is a masterpiece. It did not receive anywhere near the attention it deserved during its run, or get any Emmy nominations. But that’s fine. It doesn’t need awards to prove that its a great show, because it can let its quality speak for itself. It told a unique story it wanted to tell, it told it to a ridiculously great degree, and you can’t ask any more if it than that. Is it flawless? No, but any flaws it has are utterly miniscule and irrelevant in the long run. Watch this show and bask in its magnificence.
Director: David Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesey
Release date: May 18, 2018
After Deadpool’s success, a sequel was obviously going to happen. Hell, the first movie’s after credits scene said they were going to do one. I was eagerly awaiting the release of Deadpool 2, which had just as much of a hilarious and creative marketing campaign as the original. After thinking it over, I have come to the conclusion that Deadpool 2 manages to surpass the first one, despite being more inconsistent overall.
Deadpool 2 begins sometime after the first one, with Wade now working as a contract killer going after the worst humanity has to offer. Eventually, he crosses paths with Cable, a time traveler from the future who’s come to kill a young mutant named Russel. I’m giving a detailed summary as the plot of this movie genuinely took me by surprise at many points, even in the first ten minutes approximately. The plot moves at an exciting pace and is always giving you something new to enjoy. I honestly had no idea where it was going to go, and ended up being surprised at every turn. That being said what it has in surprises and exciting moments it lacks in consistency and a tight structure. It feels all over the place at times. There is for the most part a connective tissue, but some odd editing likely from reshoots can give one a feeling that they missed a scene when they haven’t left the theater for a second.
The new side characters of Domino and Cable really give Ryan Reynolds and the movie itself more opportunities and material for humor. Cable plays as the straight man to Deadpool’s ridiculous personality and antics while Domino’s power of “luck” makes for some of the most entertaining scenes of the film, which itself lampshades that her power doesn’t make for a very cinematic experience, but then we see that it actually really does.
Deadpool 2 also ups the ante with its action scenes. I thought the first one peaked too early in this regard, not the case for the sequel. The action scenes are always consistently entertaining, creative, and violent. The high point comes during the film’s second act, where an absolutely exciting and nonstop thrill of a convoy chase sequence takes place. Each of the main characters get to shine with creative displays of their powers and abilities. The beginning of the film also has a hilarious and violent montage of Deadpool going on contract killings. The film further enhances its action scenes by being visually better looking with more creative and dynamic camerawork. Getting one of the John Wick directors to replace Tim Miller was definitely a wise choice after Miller left due to creative differences with Ryan Reynolds. He did a great job with the first one, but David Leitch for the most part managed to surpass him where it mattered.
Performances from the cast, especially the new additions are great pretty much across the board. Ryan Reynolds is still nailing it, Josh Brolin is a perfect Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino is fun, likable, and gets a lot to do, and Julian Dennison as Russel is hilariously rude. T.J. Miller however is again the weak link that could’ve been cut from the film, and if they make a third one they should just forget his character ever existed. The humor is also more frequent, which results in it not always hitting its mark like the first one, but when the jokes do hit they hit harder as well. The joke involving the regular guy Peter is especially funny. Yet the film still manages to save its best joke for last during the credits sequence, which instead of hinting at future movies to come will have you clutching your gut in laughter and serves as catharsis.
Deadpool 2 is a messier sequel than the first one, but it also manages to be funnier, have more compelling stakes and character growth as well. The first one was pretty good, but the sequel honestly manages to surpass it in spite of its flaws. If you were a fan of the first one, you’ll definitely want to see this one.