Movies

The Old Guard

Based on the 5-part graphic novel series of the same name, this movie is a faithful adaptation. In no small part due to the fact that the screenplay is by the same author/creator of the graphic novel series. It is about a group of humans, mercenaries and fighters, that happen to be immortal. They get hired for a mission and everything goes sideways. To say more, would be to spoil what little hidden secrets the movie contains beyond the incredible action sequences.

I was looking forward to this movie for some time after having been made aware of it several months ago. After reading an interview with the lead actor, Charlize Theron, about how reading the source graphic novels resonated with her about her character, I took to reading them too. It’s a world shown without being overtly told how it works. Which is why I enjoyed the movie more; Greg Rucka took his story and added more, explained away some of the mystery and managed to add in a sequel. The source did not, it ended nicely. This added touch allows for the possibility of a franchise. And I, for one, welcome it.

Getting down to the gritty of it, the acting was superb and I especially enjoyed the deliverance of that speech lifted directly from source, by Marwan Kenzari. You’ll know it when you see it. The chemistry between his character and that of Luca Marinelli’s character comes through elegantly and beautifully. Everyone did an amazing job with their characters, breathing life into them. Making them feel real, and a bit more than some of their 2D aspects; they feel fleshed out.

Overall, I loved this movie. I loved the scenery and cinematography, Morocco was used as different locations around the world. And filmed in the UK as well. It was fun to watch, I didn’t really have to think too hard about it. “That way leads to madness” as a character says. The action was clear, and concise. An appropriate level of brutality, and thankfully not as sadistic as parts of the source graphic novel were. I definitely recommend this movie on a Friday night. Hits all the right notes and comes in just around the 2-hour mark in length.

Games

Mobile Gaming Could be Great

I often find random games on android that at first, are seemingly well made and appealing. Often they’re simply clones of more popular games, and I’m curious as to how they adapted. One such game was an adaption of Slay the Spire. At first it seemed doable, but then it was painfully obvious that the game was designed to be antigamer. So many games are designed to not be fun, but that you have to pay if you want to have fun.

This is completely backwards! When did hell freeze over, when did these developers think gamers should be treated like a piece of consumer meat? I’m never going to spend a dime on a game if the game being fun is conditional entirely on spending money. I can’t even begin to comprehend the greed that goes into such a decision. It’s like a) design a fun game that people want to spend money because they enjoy it or b) design a game to leech all money and that every aspect and gameplay element hinges on whether money cam be earned.

Sure, you’ll make a couple thousand bucks, even more if you hook a whale. Some might say these developers need to design a game that way to compete with AAA mobile gaming titles, but that’s a load of nonsense. I’ve come across maybe 10 games, on mobile, that weren’t pure money sink pits, and they were some of the most fun I’ve had for days. The gameplay encouraged… Wait for it, more gameplay! Not for me to input my visa and pay for more features.

Honestly, both Google and Apple need to come up with a curated app store for games in which each game is vetted, and if there’s any transaction or money to be spent on gameplay, that game is not allowed in the store. Sorry, but your greed is not allowed. If there’s money to spent on say, cosmetics, then the game can stay. But the moment you start messing with the core mechanics to encourage spending, not only should your game not be allowed, but you should be lambasted across the entirety of the store for your greed. So that everyone and everybody can know to stay far away. End careers in game programming before they even begin. Weed out the bad roots before they take hold. I’m sick and tired of greed in my games.

Movies

Extraction

This is how you make a movie about rival drug dealers kidnapping children and the attempt to save them without appearing that you have an agenda against them. Not Rambo Last Blood, a racist fueled exploitation flick. One should take notes on how to make violence tasteful without appearing, as I said, racist. Enough about Rambo Last Blood, this movie is called Extraction and it stars Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary with nothing left to lose. Who takes up a suicide mission to save a drug crime lord’s son from a rival drug lord. Story takes place in Mumbai and Dhaka. Scenery is chewed through by the explosive, frenetic yet easily followed action and set pieces. All the close combat action is well shot and easy to follow. And never did I feel that it was over the top, or that our hero had an extreme hatred for his enemies (ok last time I mention Rambo).

It was a well crafted story that managed to bring some layers to our otherwise static hero vs villain tale. All the characters in such a story are never given enough time to flesh them out and make them feel real. At most, we can identify with our main and see the layers unfold for them. Here we saw that not just our hero is layered, but that his enemies and allies are as well. They managed to make them human, like “somebody’s father” and that is what makes them more compelling to watch. I like knowing my hero’s story, knowing whether they’re tortured by their past, or that they love their son very much but cannot be there for them. I like knowing my villain is a true piece of work, who has no qualms about killing children to achieve his goals. These moments of humanizing the characters to be more than pieces on a chess board, is what helps elevate this movie beyond a simple action tale. There is a message here to be found, even if it may be masked slightly. And what I took away, is that a child’s life is worth saving even if the parents might not be. That although we may run away to escape our problems, eventually those problems will return to haunt us in another shape until we finally face it head on. Until we are free of our demons, and have learned to accept them, we cannot find peace.

Beneath the violence and action that encompasses this movie, there is a surprising humanity and soul to it all. I’d definitely recommend this movie for a watch. If nothing else, you’ll be left entertained. It reminded me of Tears of the Sun. Another movie well worth the watch.

Movies

The Platform

I was repeatedly sought to see this movie for it had a message akin to Joker or so I was so told. Joker was subtle and insidious. This movie beat you over the head every 10 minutes, and not kindly too. I would equate it to torture porn. Wholeheartedly unneeded, and left a bitter viewing experience. I had to mute and block much of the screen, reading only the subtitles at times.

The worst part is you could see the disgusting violence that was about to happen long before it did, therefore why would the movie continue to actually show it for such an extent? It can’t be to reiterate its message that the world is currently run in a such a manner that those who are wealthier leave naught but scraps for those that are poorer while both sets are led astray by the owners of such a system. To show extreme violence with the sole purpose of violence is unsavory. If you can heavily imply the violence, there is no need to explicitly show it. Unless you’re going for shock value; at which point, you’re devaluing your external message. This isn’t John Wick or some other revenge fantasy. This is one of those attempted allegorical art house films. Be tasteful with the gore and violence.

It felt like they were trying to make it feel like Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now with our main character’s descent from a moral and good man into madness and then a moment of redemption. Perhaps that was the purpose they sought with the movie, but I digress. It did not feel that way at all. It felt cheap. Somebody’s idea of prison torture porn.

I’d skip this movie. The amount of symbolism and beating you over the head repeatedly is off-putting, having the main bring the book Don Quixote with him is just… Why don’t you defecate in a character’s mouth while climbing to freedom to further iterate that everything is shit? You wait, you do. I feel bad having Joker even mentioned in this review, it doesn’t deserve such disrespect.

Movies

Terminator: Dark Fate

Spoilers Below, You have been warned

When I go into a Terminator movie, I expect a certain level of action and philosophizing about chosen ones and all that. This rendition of the story is a sequel to Terminator 2 and starts off directly addressing that in the prologue by establishing Sarah Connor and John Connor’s grim fates (get it?). Then the story moves onto a new set of characters because the future has been changed. A supposedly male spanish-speaking Terminator lookalike appears and sets the stage as the villain. A female humanoid, kung-fu fighting, system UI in her head analysing the situation, badass appears and sets the stage as the equivalent of Kyle Reese but more awesome. While Kyle was the father of the chosen one, she is a warrior and the right-hand of the main character – who must be saved – but in the future. The fate of the human race lies in hands of a young, Mexican girl named Dani.

This character is the worst part of the movie. It’s not that it was acted bad; in fact, the actress in question was 30 at the time playing a young 18 year old girl and I didn’t realize until googling afterwards. So she did a remarkable job. Her character, though, is a joke and so incredibly hard to believe that she’d somehow turn around the human race from certain doom. If the character would have had a closer connection to the supposed bad guys that want her dead, Legion aka the new skynet, then her character would have had more impact. She’s a nobody with no combat experience or expertise, and somehow future her can rally people together. I digress.

The rest of the movie is absolutely awesome. Grace is the aforementioned badass, who turns out to be a severely augmented human with her own power core – basically a cyborg. Sarah Connor eventually meets our fantastic duo and promptly shows off her own badassery. Together they learn things. Story moves along. And finally we meet Arnie. He’s playing an aged T-800 who, after completing his mission, has derived purpose from having a family and over time, gaining sentience. He understands the pain he’s caused Sarah Connor. As soon as they developed his story, I knew it was going to be for emotional impact from when he inevitably dies. I still shed a tear then, knowing it was coming. I could have watched a whole movie just about an aging Terminator trying to survive in our world. Especially one that has gained sentience and feels remorse for its actions. I digress.

I didn’t mention Grace because she’s obviously a throwaway character meant to die to give Dani the resolution needed to carry on for the future. She died similarly to how a certain Terminator did in a previous movie. I would have preferred a movie about her instead too. Anyone but what they went with. Given that, but given the solid performances by Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the action sequences, and fidelity and everything else, I’d rate it as a solid watch. Like 7/10, worth giving it a view.