Movies

Werewolves Within

A movie adaptation on a video game by Ubisoft? Oh, not an original game. A VR version spinoff of the popular werewolf/secret hitler format of group games where one of you is trying to kill the others or have them join your team, and you must figure out who it is. There are roles which can impact the gameplay like witch or scientist that allow you to better figure out who the wolf or secret hitler it is. So to turn that around into a competent and hilarious horror comedy is quite impressive. I find it a little funny that the screenplay is written by someone named Mishna Wolff… Anyways, the point is, Ubisoft has a successful and brilliant little horror comedy on their hands – ignoring the hard work of everyone else involved. Of course I’m joking, but you understand what I’m saying.

The story itself is simple and elegant. A new park ranger, Finn Wheeler played by Sam Richardson, arrives in the quirky town of Beaverfield where he learns of the town’s problems, both natural and supernatural. The residents are all a little bit off to put it mildly. Everyone’s got their own tics and issues. It felt like a real backwards-like town. When the moon rises, the story begins to pick up. The opening, for me, was pure horror followed swiftly by laughter. I was scared laughing until I began to pick up the clues and figure out who it was. That’s when the fear disappeared and I was awaiting to see the result. The effects were well done, because it seems like they went with a hybrid practical and CGI approach. Similar to one of my favorite movies, An American Werewolf in London. This helped the immersion factor. I was just sucked into this world, and along for the ride.

The acting helped a lot. Everyone felt at ease in their roles, and it wasn’t until the credits rolled that I put the actor behind the character into the picture. This was a properly told story. The elegance came from the fact there are multiple layers and actions often happening, at the same time, on screen. Hints in the background. The camerawork was stellar, the cinematography picked a great location. The woods really added to that sense of unease. They were creepy. It worked well. The tension hung in the air until the moment of revelation. The atmosphere was well executed and established. Music added instead of distracting from scenes on account of being too loud.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. I think everyone should watch it. Or, wait until Halloween, if you’re that dedicated, and watch it then. Very fun, doesn’t shy away from the blood/gore that comes with werewolf movies. Lot of genuine laughter, and a lot of nervous laughter too. Watch it!

Movies

The Tomorrow War

With a title such as it is, you’d think it based off a book. It’s an original story, and for that I was thoroughly happy. A couple things were tossed out here and there that led nowhere. Simply pieces of lore or red herring, which I enjoyed because it misled me from my immediately assuming correct conclusions. I still foresaw aspects here and there but that was because the execution of the story still had to follow set tropes in certain instances. This is an American military science fiction action extravaganza. It is an epic in the sense of the scale of action and scope, while still containing enough emotional points of impact to not dull the brain. It maintains its heart by focusing on making the story integral to one man and his family, specifically the bond between father and daughter. And in a rare twist, also maintaining the bond between husband and wife. Too often these stories mention divorce, so it was nice to see a family stay strong even during the lowest points.

The special effects were excellently done, and mighty tasteful. Often I felt wanting to screenshot certain scenes or shots because of how they simply looked. Works of digital art. The monsters, aliens rather, are well done. Truly terrifying and horrific. I feel like someone watched that Alien vs Predator movie based in the arctic and wanted to make something similar but much better. The movie felt like a complete story, and thankfully, didn’t end on a cliffhanger that could be stretched into a trilogy. Chris Pratt did an excellent job, because he can make that change between comedy, action, and serious emotional feels in an instant. He’s very likeable and his character did feel like a father first, before being a hero. The supporting cast were just as powerful and emotion inducing, with Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Forester, and J.K Simmons as James Forester. Sam Richardson was a nice piece of relatable comic relief. His character had a natural response to the insanity of it all.

The music was emotionally swelling, and pretty much toyed with every emotion possible to manipulate you into feeling a certain way. Like the sense of rising heroism, or sacrifice. The grief of a loss. The tension and fear of an otherworldly foe that is essentially a better predator. Top of the food chain. And how it had that sense of epic scale during scenes that were something out of a science fiction book.

Overall, I loved this movie. I want to watch it again with friends. It had everything I’ve wanted with a monster movie, and it was long enough, while being a complete story. There was no cliffhanger, or what if. There was a definitive end. I highly recommend it. Amazon Studios is slowly churning out winners.

TV Shows

Godzilla Singular Point

I see Godzilla, I watch. I expected dumb and fun action, but what I got was a deeply philosophical rabbit hole into hard science fiction and naturally time travel. I did get to see my big lizard do what he does best, but he felt more like an afterthought. More like there was an interesting story here about monsters coming to our world, and a looming catastrophe and to get funding, reached out anywhere and Toho is like “Do what you want, just make sure the big guy doesn’t eat humans.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty great and does touch on many of those aspects that make Godzilla neat – humans turning to war and weaponry and Godzilla responds in kind. How nature is inevitably going to try and punish humanity for their transgressions against the planet. But then it touches on newer stuff, and while the episodes are short, they are crammed full with information. It takes a while to digest. I felt stumped, and even stupid that I didn’t understand it. Then came revelations later, both in episodes and my own mind.

The art style reminded me of older cartoons meant for adults from when I was a child. This helped me quickly catch on that this was unlike any other Godzilla story I’ve seen. All the characters are incredibly intelligent and while lost in the mystery, they still manage to make some sense of it. Meanwhile, the viewer, is wondering what the heck is happening. I need like an excel sheet to make sense of the science. Yet with time comes wisdom. And after having seen the whole season, now I understand what sort of madness was entertained within. Each character is strong in their roles, none but the old man owner feel like caricatures. Though the factory worker that designed the robot, he suffered from heavy plot armor.

Overall, it was a somewhat enjoyable ride. I did get bored due to the dialogue being too complicated or complex to make sense of in the moment. I would have to pause and take a break while mulling it over. The monsters were fun to see because of how the traditional foes and Godzilla are adapted to this writer’s vision. And the sense of tension throughout the story, kept you with bated breath, until it finally let you take a breath was well done. It’s an anime I’d recommend and I don’t watch many of those.

Games

Control (Revisited)

This game still remains my favorite third person action adventure game in the last decade. There is not one aspect that I would change after having replayed it for free courtesy of Epic Games, and paying for the season pass. Those two expansions were beautiful additions, that helped answer some questions and as always, give more. The world of Control is a place steeped in mystery, and with that comes the fear of the unknown. Are there monsters in the shadows? Of course there are! But thanks to the hard work and effort of the Federal Bureau of Control, the world remains a relatively safe place. As the newly appointed janitorial assistant, Jesse Faden, you – the player, must help eradicate the parasites that have infested the ever-shifting building.

You eventually arm yourself with the so called service weapon, a sentient entity that provides you with an array of different forms of weaponry. You can craft these possibilities at the safe points, designated “control points”, with materials gained from the enemies you defeat – former humans corrupted by the antagonistic force and otherworldly entities. You can eventually acquire paranormal abilities to aid you in your duties. The strongest by far being telekinesis – in fact, this second playthrough was remarkably easy thanks to that ability being the first one I apply all the skill points I can to. These points are gained from completing quests (main or side) and finding hidden areas.

Combat is crisp, quick, and unforgiving. Know your enemy and the game is easy. Coming into it blind, it is a terrifying experience. Wary, and full of tension, you get startled at every twist and corner. The fear of the unknown keeps your wits sharp. Coming into it a second time, it is an action game where I’m the terror come to cleanse these wicked things. To quote a familiar franchise, “Rip and Tear” which is exactly what happens every time enemies appear. Decimate their ranks to ash as fast as possible to get back to the juicy parts – to exploring the map and finding out more secrets and knowledge behind what makes the world of Control what it is. To help unmask some of the mystery.

On and on the Foundation goes.

There are two expansions added to the game, one taking place after the game ends titled the Foundation and the other linking the game, Alan Wake, more tightly and intrinsically into the world of Control which can be accessed after completion of a certain main quest mission. Both of these are tiny little masterpieces in their own rights, each telling a compelling story while adding more to the world and simultaneously deepening the want to know more. I am infinitely more excited to future works by Remedy Entertainment.

Another astonishing experience that I gained this time around was that I played on a PC capable of RTX. The graphics were stunning, and I was kept fully immersed into the simulation – sorry, game. The Bureau’s glass offices reflecting everything else around them, I had no choice but to forcibly slam Jesse through each so I could stop running into areas that I thought had treasure but were merely reflections. One time, in the expansion, I was scared in the dark, and I kept running into a wall because I thought there was a chest inside. When I returned to safety, I thoroughly disintegrated that wall of glass with my essentially rocket launcher mode. Point is, graphics merely supplement the already phenomenal story and gameplay. They don’t distract. You don’t go “wow, that was a pretty game, but the graphics was the only thing good about it. Why didn’t they spend more time with story or gameplay?” Control is an equal package of perfection.

If you haven’t played this game yet, I definitely recommend that you get around to it. It’s a harsh world, but the secrets contained within are worth the effort. And if you’re a fan of Poets of the Fall, you get to experience the wonders of their music within Control. Curious newcomers should check them out if interested.

Movies

Army of the Dead

Oh, Zack Snyder doing another zombie movie? Count me in. I thought to myself. Man usually likes to throw in some possible philosophical or mythological references or metaphors here and there in his movies. Oh main bad guy zombie is a character called Zeus. And he lives in a hotel called Olympus. If I didn’t know any better, that sounds like sorta a reference or metaphor going here. And later on, during the spoiler section, I will complete this Zeus narrative with a plot spoiler. Anyways, other than that, it is quite the generic action ride. Nothing that was done was new, and everything was spotted a mile away – I say, as I turned to my brother, and told him each time, “watch, so and so is gonna happen.” He hated knowing what was gonna happen.

Emotionally, the movie tried to tug at your heart but the glaring plot holes, and obvious next choice of action prevented that. As soon as the main character’s daughter showed up, in a horror survival movie, for some reason, these movies always have it end one way. Like that meme with Squidward, daring today, aren’t we? There was only one moment of genuine horror and that was the glowstick hallway scene. Everything else is a snooze. It also suffers from oh this actor, wanna bet you’re gonna end up ‘x’ and oh look ‘x’ it is. The other thing I do give Snyder credit for is having the zombies be tied into UFOs – not a spoiler, it’s in the first 10 minutes (look in the skies during a truck sequence). As for the acting, it was enjoyable and some of the characters stood out from the rest. Coyote, and the safecracker in particular. The former had the most interesting lore there that I wish could have been explored further, and the latter is just pure enjoyment as his reactions are the most relatable.

Spoilers ahead

Spoiler time

So we got a zombie called Zeus that lives in Olympus and he kidnaps women to turn them into alphas and also impregnate them to try and raise a child. The strongest opponents or revengeful, he turns into alphas as well. Every other zombie, besides Zeus and alphas, are slow and called “shamblers.” There is a hierarchy and again, Zeus impregnating women against their will. Hmm. Hmm. Nah, definitely no connection to ancient Greek mythology. Absolutely none. That bit aside, main character’s daughter goes into zombie infested town to save a mother of two children stuck in her UN camp. Said mother gets eventually rescued but helicopter carrying everyone crashes. No mention of her whatsoever again. Ending that always happens, happens. Oh no, parental figure must be killed by the child to ensure survival. How about we stop with this diabolic peddling, and, you know, not sacrifice the parent so the child may live? I know, quite the revolutionary plot twist. Oh, a dude survives at the very end and *gasp*, is infected? Wow, how original! Somehow this man escapes from a locked casino vault which required a safecracker to open it, and coincidentally there’s zero debris blocking his exit onto the surface which was just devastated by a tactical yield bomb?

Spoilers End

Overall, it was enjoyable if you just shut off your brain. Nothing new here, nothing groundbreaking. Snyder had no studio intervention here, like he has in previous movies, yet his plot was as bland and generic as a studio made film. Watch it if you’re curious or want another zombie movie to fill your zombie itch, or if you have nothing better to do.