Tag Archives: review

I played OverWatch for the First Time and it was Hard to Kick old CoD Habits.

owatchana

Overwatch is currently enjoying a major gaming boom as it celebrates its one year anniversary since release while surpassing the 30 million registered players mark.  To celebrate the one year milestone, Blizzard Entertainment opened up the game for everyone to play a “try before they buy” session, offering a weekend of free play to those not yet submerged in the world of Overwatch.

While I didn’t partake in the free offer, I did go out and purchase a physical copy of the game (50% off thanks to the one year celebrations) and it turns out, this game is not like any game out there on the market.

Overwatch is a first person shooter that offers only a online multiplayer mode and falls somewhere between the grittiness of Call of Duty, the team based game-play of Destiny and wackiness of Grand Theft Auto V Online.

Coming off a heavy dose of Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered, I was not ready for how different and difficult to adjust to, Overwatch was going to be.  Don’t go off alone, don’t expect solo based kill streaks, don’t assume you get all your characters information just off what’s in-front of you on screen.  I learned the hard way that there is a right way and a wrong way to play this game.

There are currently 24 playable characters on the Overwatch roster, each one different from the other yet grouped together in their base class skills.  From healers to tanks, offence and sharp shooters, the character you choose to play will have a vast effect on how the team unites to win the match.

A character like Ana for instance, is equipped with a sniper rifle, stun pistol and a biotic grenade.  While her rifle can inflict damage to opponents, it also, when targeted at team mates, heals them.  The same applies to the biotic grenade and can be useful for a quick burst of health to ailing team mates earning you bonus points.

2721641-heroselect_001

The other sniper wielding character – Widowmaker – offers no health support, though she’s more nimble in her ability to reach high sniper nests and has a stronger damage count on her rifle.

Knowing just how your character works will enable better team participation though be prepared to substitute a high kill rate for high team health regeneration or damage blocking rate.

There are certain characters that will always be picked by other players – bow master Hanzo, scrap gun wielding Roadhog, robotic defense unit Bastion and ninja Genji are guaranteed to be in a starting line-up but it’s how you use your character to bounce off those selected ones that can make a difference.

Unlike CoD, going out as a lone wolf with a sniper rifle is not going to ensure a high kill streak or a grand team win.  Overwatch is all about team play – which characters have been selected, how they interact with each other and how you put your best foot forward to ensure your team wins.  The game modes in Overwatch aren’t aimed for high kills, it’s all about zone points and that’s how the characters within the game have been created.

I will admit, after two hours in, I was ready to give up.  Some characters like Genji, McCree and Bastion felt way overpowered against my Tracer or Lucio with their seemingly perfect hit rate and bullet strength.  It wasn’t until I stepped away from the console and researched into just how certain characters played that I began to understand.

I was drawn to Ana from the get go with her brooding hood and long scattered rags but couldn’t get a hang of why her sniper rifle wasn’t as good as widowmakers, and that was because Ana was more about team support versus solo kills and just like her, I learnt Pharah works better from above than on ground level and Tracer requires lightning quick reflexes to get the kills. These things that I couldn’t pick up from game play  were discovered from seeing and reading how other experienced players used these characters.

Once I understood the purpose of Overwatch, I began to enjoy it more and more.  Sure Bastion’s turret is like the most inanely annoying thing on a map but there is a way around it (Ana’s sleep dart!!) and I’m now OK with not aiming for that high kill streak because I know that’s not necessarily going to win us the match and yes, loot boxes are incredibly frustrating especially when you like to use Ana but keep unlocking items for Winston who you never use – but that’s another discussion all together.

Overwatch’s free weekend of play is over, but is available for purchase in digital and physical copy formats for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Modern Warfare Remastered Shows Just How Far the Franchise Has Come

LJzMKuQ.png
Female soldier skins are a new addition to MW Remastered

As someone who stood steadfast in avoiding the most recent outing of Call of Duty due to it’s overtly futuristic spacey feel, the lure of an addition of the series fourth installment, Modern Warfare remastered, finally drew me in to nab the game (5 months after it’s release mind you). This updated flashback to one of Call of Duty’s more finer releases showcases just how far the series has come since its early days and just how dated this version really is when compared to where the series has gone.

While major improvements have been made to graphics and even the inclusion of semi-customizable soldiers – with female skins available too, Modern Warfare Remastered brings players back to a cumbersome grounding, taking away the speed and finesse that plays in more modern outings for the series.

Playing my first team death match game on the ‘Bog’ map, simple and instilled tasks of sliding, wall running and reloading while sprinting that we have all become accustomed to, do not exist.  Blasting yourself sky high and popping off a sniper shot or speeding yourself across the map to dodge a hail of bullets does not happen.  Instead, your’e left hurriedly scurrying to a safe spot, trying to scope out the enemy, hoping to make a mercy dash to your next location or out of the way of falling bombs.

Basically, MW Remastered neuters players who are neck deep in the futuristic COD game play style and brings them back to a place of beginner level and a lot of this can be attributed to two reasons – the maps with the game and the restricted load outs.

Unlike recent releases, the maps in MW Remastered were not designed for vertical run and gun play but instead, grounded gritty and strategic warfare.  In maps especially like Bog and Shipment (which are no bigger in size than say Nuketown), cover is very hard to come.  Strategy team death match play goes out the window and a battle for survival and attempts to build kill streaks take its place.  These maps force players to completely change their usual play style to that they would use in other COD games.

I for instance haven’t heavily used a sniper rifle since Call of Duty: Ghosts thanks to the introduction of boosts, wall running and the large amount of ‘Swiss cheese’ styled maps that just don’t allow for the comfortable use of those kinds of weapons.  Those fast paced games of modern COD games have crafted me into a run and gun player so falling back into long range paced play was a welcome but clumsy change.

The restricted load outs are also big change from the norm we’ve come to expect with players forced to use weapons with a single attachment, one tactical item and three perks.  A far cry from the 10 point load out system where a single weapon can yield 4 attachments that we’ve come to know.  It becomes frustrating deciding to chose between adding the silencer or ACOG scope to your weapon, both which drastically effect how you play the game.

All in all, releasing a much loved classic on the back of one of the least anticipated Call of Duty releases to date was a smart move by Activision but the stripped back classic game will provide a mixed bag of opinions, divide fans and more than likely push those invested in the more modern and accommodating releases back to what they know and love.  I however have begun to relish the old-school style of game-play, even with its major playing restrictions.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered is available now as part of the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition release.

Amy Schumer’s Leather Special Keeps with the Schumer we Know All Too Well.

AmySNetflix1When it comes to comedian Amy Schumer and her stand-up comedy shows, we pretty much know what we’re going to get.  Themes of self depreciation, sex, fat jokes and offering her own take on the vagina monologues are constant in Schumers work, so much so, when bursting onto the scene, she was applauded for delving into those ‘no-go’ topics.

Now a best selling author and big screen actress (Trainwreck and the upcoming Snatched with Goldie Hawn), the jokes and topics that found Amy stardom continue to pull her along the dark and vulgar path she’s traveled down many a time before.  In her most recent outing for Netflix titled Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, jokes about her feminine hygiene, copious amounts of alcohol and oral sex are once again present and feel somewhat ‘old-school’ Amy Schumer and by old-school, I mean the Amy we first met back in 2014 when Inside Amy Schumer began to gain traction for being a very on point and wickedly blunt comedic sketch show.

Schumer, as witnessed in The Leather Special, rarely strays away from topics that seem to hit with audiences and while topics such as double standard within Hollywood, female sexuality and empowerment and body insecurities are tackled, there’s an uneasy feeling of ‘heard this once before’ as these topics feel rehashed but with added vagina.

But all is not lost for Amy as among all the smut and vomit jokes, she manages to set aside her vagina for a moment and approach the hot topic of gun control, a subject close to Schumer after a gunman (in 2015) opened fire in a cinema showing her film Trainwreck in which two people were killed and nine other injured.

It’s a sidestep into the real world that will undoubtedly get people talking and divide audiences (the special briefly cuts to a small number of audience members walking out when gun control is mocked) but also one that she should visit a bit more often as sadly, this ‘raunch comedy’ that has become so synonymous with Schumer has me fearing that she may never get out of this sexual gag cycle.

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special is currently streaming on Netflix.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands Beta Review

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225190413.jpg

Ghost Recon: Wildlands is currently live for a limited beta play-through before the full game goes live on March 7th and while the onset saw major server issues and lengthy maintenance delays, it seems, for most players, the beta is now in full swing.

Wildlands has you playing as a special forces soldier whose main aim is to wipe out a major Mexican drug cartel in no-too-distant-future Bolivia.  An open world game, Wildlands puts you at the drivers seat in a “choose your own adventure” kind of way as you decide how you and your team will go about taking out the cartel.

Before getting into any game play, your first task is to create your character.  As a lover of games that use this feature, the customization options gave me mixed feelings, offering a wide range of options on some items and no where near enough options on others.

As someone who – when given the chance to – plays as a female character, I do have to give props to Ubisoft for the range of female faces offered to choose from.  While none are worthy of being recruited as a Victoria’s Secret model, the number of “nice looking” faces outnumber the swamp donkey ones, though the option to choose race and skin color is locked to each of the eleven face styles.  There’s a small amount of face paints and scars to choose from and the tattoo’s add a gritty edge to your character.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225184438.jpg

Outfits and accessories are fitting for the games genre with tank tops, Tee’s, shirts and similar items and most feature a wide selection of color and/or pattern changes to suit the look you’re going for.  Where Ubisoft dropped the ball in customization is hair options. While I haven’t checked out those open for male characters (who also have facial hair options), the females have seven options, all of which are sadly, very basic and very masculine.  From a stock standard bun to short cornrows to fully shaved to a tiny ponytail, all are rather disappointing and don’t seem to look that decent unless covered with a headset (see top image) or with a hat.  While i’m not asking for long Rapunzel hair, the argument of avoiding clipping with longer styles is moot considering the hair assortment (long and short) sported by the NPC’s running around town that certainly do not have clipping issues.

Wildlands game play feels very smooth and while the controls took some time to get used to, everything from shooting to running and climbing were seamless, however driving felt very different to what has been found in similar games.  While controlling your vehicle is pretty much standard, I found not only did it take quite a lot of damage to completely total your vehicle but also, whatever you’re driving has the ability to literally climb mountains.

As if unaffected by the rocky and bushy landscape, the car I had stolen and literally drove over a cliffs edge was able to easily climb right back up to where it had fallen from.  Handy if you loose control or need to make a quick shortcut to get across to the other side of the map, but the feel of this goes against what we know and what we’d expect.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225191416.jpg

Even flying a helicopter – something I always try and avoid – was easy enough to control though trying to maintain a steady climb and decent push forward in a straight line felt fiddly and quite slow.

Environment interaction was more miss than hit.  As stated, the ability to drive up the side of a rocky mountain is odd and my helicopter wasn’t affected by the trees I steered it through.  The NPC’s wandering around manage to, for the most part, be quick enough to jump out of the way of my speeding and slightly out of control car but killing an NPC with a weapon can prove costly and have repercussions on a mission.

The missions open during the beta were pretty stock standard too but the ability to decide how you go about it was a nice addition.  While the main mission is always there, upon finding some intel at a rebel location, you can choose either scouting for more supplies, upgrades or another rebel base as you are never forced to play the main arc which sees a massive cartel flow chart showing how prominent gang members are connected and who must be killed to get information on the next target.

4 player co-op is also up and running for Wildlands and I had no issues jumping into a live game with three randoms but relinquishing control to someone else was frustrating especially when you find yourself a passenger in a vehicle being driven from one side of the map to the other for a quick shoot and run mission or when trying to make a stealthy entrance into an enemy camp only to have someone go running in guns blazing.

Thankfully, playing off-line, your AI controlled helpers are much more accommodating to your play style.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225215347.jpg

For the most part, my time spent on the Ghost Recon: Wildlands beta was more positive than negative but only slightly.  The mission repetition can become mundane and to put it bluntly, was nothing really not seen before in games before (I am playing Metal Gear Solid V and the similarities are insane).  The open world environment is lush and vast and smooth game play will keep you going for a short while but with little to unlock or aim for (weapons and additions to your character), the steam behind Wildlands could run out quickly for players who have pretty much seen this all before.

Ghost Recon; Wildlands beta ends Monday Feb 27th will the full game launching Tuesday March 7th.

Archie Goes Dark and Broody in Riverdale

riverdale-archie-dad
Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his father Fred  Andrews (Luke Perry)

There’s a sort of “you-know-what-you’re-getting” vibe when it comes to the world of Archie via the wildly popular classic comic strip with Archie and best friend Jughead continuously getting into mischief while Betty and Veronica bicker over the affections of the larrikin red head.  When it comes to the world of Archie Andrews in the new drama series Riverdale, what we get is the complete opposite of what we would expect.

The quiet and quaint town of Riverdale goes into a complete meltdown after the mysterious disappearance of local high school student Jason Blossom which forces the dark hidden hands of the townsfolk to slowly emerge.

The best way to think of Riverdale is Archie meets Dawson’s Creek meets Pretty Little Liars and it is this mix of shows that gives viewers a lot to take in within Riverdale’s opening episode.

Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is struggling to find even ground for his promising football career and his wishful music career while trying to keep his woeful father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) happy and his feelings for his music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), with whom he had a summer fling with, hidden.  His best friend Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) has romance in her eyes for her read headed best friend but her uppity mother Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is trying to stop Betty from venturing out at any cost.  Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is a moody, brooding writer, taking notes about the mysterious disappearance that happened over the past summer while new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) makes an impact right from her first meeting with the Riverdale gang before she locks lips with both Betty and Archie.

Splattered into this modern world of Archie, additional characters from the comic series including the flashy and gay Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), bitchy and privileged Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)  and lead singer of high school band Josie and the Pussycats Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) all appear to shake things up in the once peaceful town.

This fresh take on Archie, made for the modern era teen, is a rather swell surprise that will fit easily into the viewing habits of those watching PLL or fans of Gossip Girl and even the failed Melrose Place remake.  Secrets, lies, murder, scandals….it’s all going down in Riverdale.

Riverdale is currently streaming on Netflix Australia.

First Look Review: The Exorcist

ex_s1-102-sc14_jw-0266_hires1
Alan Ruck and Geena Davis in THE EXORCIST. (c)2016 Fox Broadcasting/Jean Whiteside

A dark an eerie take on the timeless cult horror flick pits Geena Davis against a demonic force that has set its eyes on her family.

Joining the ranks of the ‘reboot’ fad, The Exorcist has a more tender ground to tread on than others within the field thanks to its cult fandom background.  Considered to be one of the scariest films of all time, the 1973 movie of the same name produced an iconic film filled with memorable quotes and scenes (a 360 degree head turn anyone?) that have been done and redone so many times that this new incarnation has to be very careful of not to try and out-do or recreate what has been done and done well.

Thankfully, in this new outing for The Exorcist, it leaves little opportunity open for fans and viewers to mock or gripe.

Taking the lead (and bringing in some worthy star power) Geena Davis plays Angela Rance, a religious upper class working mother who is concerned that the noises and strange occurrences happening in her home might be more than just your everyday easy to explain happenings.  Her husband Henry (Alan Ricks) is a former version of himself due to a workplace accident, her eldest daughter Kat (Brianne Howey) is dark and depressed after a tragic accident that killed her best friend while youngest daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka) is a care-free and easy going young woman with the world at her feet.

Concerned that troubled Kat may be ‘under the influence of a demon’, Angela asks local priest Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) to do a cleansing of her house though Tomas’ spiritual demons find him playing cat and mouse between a concerned mother worried her daughter is possessed and another priest, Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) who has very close ties to the world of exorcisms.

What ensues is a stylish and slick tale about religion in the modern day versus the barriers provided by old-school religion.

At an hour long, the first episode doesn’t feel rushed or have too much crammed into it though there lies a problem in that you begin to question how Angela is so convinced there is a demon in her house when we are not actually privy to any demonic activity (the only real signs is through her telling Father Tomas about cupboards and chairs in the kitchen moving about) and the scene where Father Tomas and Father Marcus meet – via demonic children filled dreams is semi-sketchy to say the least but one could say it’s divine intervention from a higher power to bring the two together.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fshowcasechannel%2Fvideos%2Fvb.157476527598828%2F1383609171652218%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

We do catch a glimpse of this demonic force, though it’s not until the end of the episode and provides one of the best surprise plot twists presented in a pilot in some time and it’s not the series only card up their sleeve.  The big reveal comes towards the end of episode five that will have those who know the movie literally gagging with excitement about what’s to come.

The Exorcist  begins Sunday December 4, 8.30pm on Showcase.

Pilot score: 4.5/5

How Miranda Sings became the new Ja’mie King.

haters-back-off-2
Angela Kinsey as Bethany and Colleen Ballinger as Miranda.  (c) Netflix 2016.

Coming off an eight episode binge watch of Netflix’s comedy/drama Haters Back Off, I quickly came to the realization that what works in one format may not actually work in another and it’s a point I have made before about a character very similar to that of Haters lead Miranda Sings.

The premise of the Netflix original series takes insanely popular YouTube star Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger) and documents her slow and grinding rise to her current internet stardom with the help of her eerily inappropriate Uncle Jim (Steve Little), her hypochondriac mother Bethany (Angela Kinsey) and her love-sick neighbor Patrick  (Erik Stocklin) which is all  to the detest of her introverted younger sister Emily (Francesca Reale).

As the eight episodes move along, Miranda, in her quest for undeserved fame using Uncle Jim’s five step plan, showcases a natural talent for narcissistic egotism and not much else as she drags down those around her while trying to claw herself to the top.  Even when the tables turn on her and a situation goes awry, Miranda, so wrapped up in the beliefs of her own talent, refuses to see when she’s being kicked to the ground and assumes those against her are jealous of her performing ability.

In the second to last episode, Miranda’s younger sister Emily takes the chance to leave the chaos of home and apply to go to art school.  Their mother Bethany, who is struggling with an actual health issue, at first fights it but then allows Emily to take that interview. Armed with her portfolio, Emily attends said art school interview only to discover her works have been ‘Mirandafied’ with pasta and glitter therefore destroying her chance at acceptance.

It’s the ensuing scene (which kicks off the seasons final episode) between a devastated and angry Emily and a cocky Miranda that brings the series one of its most conflicting moments for the viewers – Miranda is convinced she ‘fixed those paintings’ to help Emily get into art school but is shocked when Emily literally tells her that she ruined her work and that Miranda is dumb for thinking she was actually helping.  It’s a brutal scene between the chalk and cheese sisters, but one where you feel empowered that Emily is finally taking a stand yet saddened for Miranda who is copping that verbal beating from her sister even when she thought she was doing good.

Once it is over, you step back and begin to question why are we even feeling sad for Miranda and should we be feeling empathy for a character that showed not a single shroud of human decency to another person?  Which of course, harks back to my original point on what works in one format may not actually work in another.

Miranda Sings in YouTube format is hilarious and simply put – genius.  The short 5-8 minute clips allow us to pop in and out as Miranda tries international snacks, dances, offers make-up tips, visits other YouTube stars, displays DYI fashion and accessory tips and badly croons her way through hundreds and hundreds of videos that have racked up billions of views. It works because the videos are entertaining, Miranda is an utter odd-ball, we don’t have to become too invested in her at that moment and the time frame of the videos is short enough to avoid us from discovering that Miranda is actually a rather unpleasant character.

Most of that discovery though falls down to the introduction of Miranda’s family, the people she stumbles across in life and how her actions and the way she conducts herself are presented to those people…which had to happen when bringing the character into scripted television.

It’s the same issue I had with a similar character to Miranda Sings, in the form of comedian Chris Lilley’s alter-ego Ja’mie King from Summer Heights High.  When offered in smaller doses and accompanied by other unsettling characters to bounce to and from, selfish and delusional Ja’mie was an utter gem but when given her own platform and fleshed out surroundings in  the series Ja’mie: Private School Girl, she became an unpleasant and highly unlikable brat that had me wanting her to never have a platform to appear on ever again.

Now this is not to say that Haters is a complete miss.  There are some shining moments within the havoc of these eight episodes, most of which come from Miranda’s neighbor and (not so) secret admirer Patrick.

Erik Stocklin’s grossly awkward yet heartwarmingly adorable Patrick manages to step front and center to give Haters a character for us to root for – oddly more so than poor Emily.  Even though Miranda comes out of this incredibly unlikable, we get all mushy when Patrick finally gets that special moment with his long time crush because Patrick, while almost as delusional as Miranda, is genuine and connectable for the viewers and thats a huge kudos to Stocklin.

Haters Back Off is currently streaming on Netflix.

Did Looking: The Movie, Offer a Fitting Farewell?

looking_0
Melissa Moseley/HBO 2016

There’s always a trepidation when coming into a ‘farewell movie’ of a series that one has grown to love but was cut short on us.  We find ourselves asking “Will we get the answers we want?  Will it give us a feeling of a proper conclusion?  Will we be happy with how we have to say goodbye?”  Even in Looking’s two season short life span, those questions begged to be asked and required answers.  Thankfully not only did we get our some answers but most fans should be able to say a final goodbye to a pack of characters we quickly grew to love.

Looking back, It’s been well over 12 months since Looking’s untimely demise.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) ended his tumultuous relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) and had all but destroyed any chance of any kind of relationship with his ex Ritchie (Raul Castillo). Dom (Murray Bartlett) rekindled his long standing friendship with Doris (Lauren Weedman)  and was about to start a new professional journey while Augustine (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) were on the cusp of starting a brand new relationship together.

The 90 minute farewell movie attempts to answer those looming questions but still leave enough open to assume that while Looking may in fact be over, Patrick, Dom and Augustine are still living their lives and making life changing choices even if it’s not visible to us.

Oddly enough while the series was about three gay men living life in San Francisco, this finale movie sees most of the narrative hinging on Patrick’s love life – or in fact, where he left off and what’s in store when he returns to San Francisco after a 9 month hiatus living and working in Denver.  Granted the Ritchie/Patrick/Kevin triangle played one of the major arcs in Looking’s second season, but the force of pushing this right into the main story for the movie sadly left Dom and Augustine relegated to side characters that only either offered a reason for Patrick to even be back in SF or give him a reason to question his own motives.

It’s a odd move by writers Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh who seemed to assume viewers were only invested in Patrick and his life and not that of Dom and Augustine’s. It’s a shame really as of the three, Augustine was shown to be the one that had grown the most from the pilot episode to the second season closer.

Yes, we’re offered answers and you know what, while not everyone will be satisfied, we should be happy with them even if certain elements are not clear cut in stone.  There’s enough there for us to make up our own minds as to which way the story ends for Patrick. Perhaps that was the intention all along?  Give us the equation, hint at a resolution but allow us to find the answer that sits the best with us.

I for one am happy we got one last outing with Looking even if it was a bit too much focused on Patrick at the expense of the other players.

 Looking: The Movie is currently screening on Showcase via Foxtel.

X-Men Apocalypse Review

BL5U6458.CR2
Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) side with Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse is being reviewed and touted as “the X-Men movie for the fans” yet the way it stands, no single X-Men movie has ever fared extremely well with dedicated followers and X-Men’s latest installment isn’t going to change that.

It’s a shame however as the bones for a decent X-Men film are there and unlike Days of Future Past, there’s no real source/story line material for Apocalypse to stay true to…well with the exception of which characters pop up as his loyal horsemen, but it did allow for the writers to be a little bit more creative in this outing.  That said, there is a major problem with Apocalypse – there is just way too many named characters to really do everyone justice especially for an X-Men movie where standard scene-hogger Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is literally seen in a single slash and dash scene. Characters with major story lines or backgrounds needing to be fleshed out suffer and feel like stepford wives waiting for instructions on what to do next.

Of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, it’s weather witch Storm (Alexandra Shipp), telekinetic ninja Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy) that suffer the most screen injustice along with good-gal and fan favorite, Jubilee (Lana Condor) who have either been relegated to single lines of dialogue (Psylocke) or virtually stripped of their powers (Jubilee) and it’s a shame considering the high visibility of these characters in advertising and posters.

With Apocalypse’s (Oscar Isaac) fourth horseman being Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the only true background fleshed out is his, which of course, has been explored in pretty much every other X-Men movie made to date but at least toggles the viewers memory as to a valid reason why Magneto would join forces with Apocalypse.  Of the other three, Angel is picked up licking his wounds after escaping from an underground mutant fighting ring, Storm while as a teen thief in Cairo and Psylocke as she works with Caliban (Tómas Lemarquis) secretly transporting mutants underground.  There is just not enough between those other characters to really back them to joining Apocalypse, especially with Storm whom we all know eventually becomes a fully fledged X-Man and Psylocke who we never really quite understand why she joins.

On the flip side, re-imagined characters of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are given ample amount of screen time for us to be introduced to and even like.  Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is an absolute scene stealer. And of the returning cast, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, James McAvoy’s Xavier and Nicholas Hault’s Beast are all there to keep a tie between the old and the new though of all the characters presented on screen during Apocalypse, it’s that of CIA agent and Xavier’s love interest Moira Mactaggert (Rose Burne) that garnered the most unnecessary screen time.

From discovering Apocalypse’s resurrection to informing the X-Men of said event to even joining them to rescue a captured Xavier, Moira Mactaggert is there along for the ride – even at one point, donning the same black leather fighting suit worn by Beast, Jean Grey and the other X-Men while piloting an escape jet.

t9aymex5nui37em71621

Apocalypse will however be the one single character to really test an X-Men fans faith in the movie franchise.  The comic version of the character presents a grand and powerful mutant, giant in size and ability to cause world wide damage with his special powers, in effect, Apocalypse is quite terrifying…the movie version is like 50% of the way there.  His stature is not grand nor immense and he spends a bulk of the movie uttering long and drawn out speeches in a monotonous and robotic tone.

X-Men Apocalypse spends a large bulk of it’s movie building up a story that ends with a massive action sequence but it does so in a long and laborious tone that will leave many wondering when the action is going to come.  When it does finally hit, those action sequences however are pretty decent though once again, reliant on the CGI.  Some may feel a bit hard done by with Storm but I’ll admit, this is probably the most action scenes we’ve ever had by the character while first timer Psylocke and her electric pink telekinetic sword and whip were actually very cool to watch even if she kind of looks a bit ridiculous in her minimal vinyl outfit.

Yes, X-Men Apocalypse is a ‘movie for the fans’, many will pick up on familiar characters etched into the background, many will wonder why their favorite character was even there to begin with.  Heck, I’m wondering why the cheeky nod to another comic based X-Man Dazzler was cut from the final film.  I’m guessing another directors cut ‘aka the Days of Future Past Rogue Edition’ will pack even more into an already packed movie.

X-Men Apocalypse is in cinemas now.

Season Review: The X-Files Season 10

The X-Files-Season 1-Episode3-1
Spoilers below for those who have not seen ALL 6 episodes!!!

WARNING!!!  SPOILERS LAY BELOW!  DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ALL 6 EPISODES!!

It’s been a very welcome return for our long time truth hunters who returned to our screen in January after a decade plus long absence.  The shows main hurdle to overcome was whether or not Mulder and Scully could still draw in the audiences it once drew in all those years ago while being reachable to new viewers not overtly familiar with the characters and the show.

When season 10 closed with that insane final episode, I for one, like to say that yes, The  X-Files was able to bring me – a long time fan of the show – back into it’s fold and also welcome in new viewers.  With the revelation that ‘little green men’ do in fact exist and that their alien mechanics had been used for decades to create secret technology and their DNA used to protect chosen ones from an impending global disease crisis, dedicated fans got to travel full circle with Mulder and Scully on their hunt for the truth.

This reveal, in some form, closed the ‘is the truth out there’ book and opened a brand new one revolving around powerful men and the Alien secrets they have been choosing to hide from the public basically transforming what we all knew about The X-Files and the team involved brining back this show did it good.

That’s not to say though that The X-Files return did not come with its flaws.

While many critics applauded the shows quick return to monster-of-the-week flair (episode 3 – Mulder and Scully meet the were-monster) I found that to be one of the series weakest. While the on-screen chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson was stronger than ever, the tongue-in-cheek poke at Mulder and Scully’s monster hunting felt incredibly far fetched with the story of Guy Mann, a lizard to human shape changer that included way too much dialogue and not enough of the dark stuff we had been treated to in the second episode with insane geneticist Augustus Goldman (Melrose Place’s Doug Savant) building genetically enhanced (and disfigured) children.

Episode five introduced two new agents – Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) and the ridiculously named Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) to the fold and went even further south of episode 3 and gave us Mulder, deep in the heart of Texas, boot scootin and line dancing his way through a psychedelic trip that eventually saw him face to face with a comatose bomber.  These two weak episodes felt like a very poor and feeble attempt at recapturing some of the more light hearted and fan favorite episodes of seasons past such as Bad Blood from season 5.

Funnily enough, what critics hated the most, I found to be engaging and very X-Filesey. The cigarette smoking man playing puppet master god, Scully’s alien DNA proving to be a most useful tool, Mulder working with conspiracy theorist Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), Scully’s former partner Agent Reyes (Annabeth Gish) returning out of the blue to provide a shocking piece of information….this funnily enough is where most felt the X-Files lost it’s way during its original run yet felt like The X-Files.

annabeth-gish-the-x-files-fox
Annabeth Gish returns in the season 10 finale as Agent Monica Reyes

So how did each episode fare?

Episode One – My Struggle

7 out of 10

THE-X-FILES-10x01-3

The X-Files not only had to re-connect with long time fans but also, draw in new ones and in doing so, produced a lot of information, like mountains of it. From Aliens landing in the 1950’s to how their technology was stripped from them to the semi-annoying Tad O’Malley gobbling up too much screen time to learning about what Mulder and Scully had been up-to since we last saw them.

MVP: Sveta ( Annet Mahendru) was the perfectly eerie and damaged character to bring Mulder and Scully back together. A survivor of multiple abductions, Sveta’s fragility in coming forward with her claims played immensely well into the X-Files lore. 

Episode Two – Founders Mutation

8.5 out of 10

 b6b60c2cb49e49dec96e22b33d6ed98e.gif

An almost perfect return to form for the show, the mystery surrounding Mulder and Scully’s son William was answered and the two shared a wonderful amount of screen time together that made us all happy.  Pair this with the mad scientist trying to genetically breed children story line and we have ourselves a fantastic episode.

MVP: Augustus Goldman (Doug Savant) was the bad guy we needed to see early on in the series return.  While for only one episode, his elusiveness to reveal just what he has been up-to provided a much needed creep factor to the show plus, it was great to see Savant play against type.

Episode Three – Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

3 out of 10

The-X-Files-10x03-9

The weakest of the bunch, Mulder and Scully’s monster hunt episode felt forced and contrived as they hunt for a monster that has been killing and feeding on innocent people. The lame attempt at touching on the humorous side of the show fell flat and produced nothing really new that had not been done before – even Guy Mann’s overtly sexy retelling of his encounter with Scully felt icky.  There was also waaaay too much dialogue – the scene with Mann and Mulder in the cemetery…it needed to end long before it began.

MVP: N/A

Episode Four – Home Again

7 out of 10

X-Files-10x04-6

Another ‘monster-of-the-week’ episode but done very very well.  The gruesome “band-aid nose man” was terrifying and chilling enough to rekindle my love of those episodes from seasons past and Scully’s heartbreak at loosing her mother was equally touching and tear-inducing.

MVP: John DeSantis’s Band-Aid nose man was freaky enough to join the ranks of other well known X-Files monsters such as the Flukeman and Tombs.  

Episode Five – Babylon

5 out of 10

lauren-1_0

Mulder and Scully parting ways to try and communicate with a disfigured and comatose bomber was a premise I truly wanted to love but there was too much other stuff getting in the way for me to actually enjoy.  Agent Miller and Einstein proved no real purpose other than to accompany Mulder and Scully on their efforts and Mulder’s drug induced Billy Ray Cyrus trip…I swear you can see in Duchovny’s eyes he’s thinking “What the actual fuck am I doing?”

MVP: David Duchovny only for actually going through with this episode.

Episode Six – My Struggle Part 2

8 out of 10

ojos-de-scully-final-the-x-files-10x06

While this episode once again featured a little bit too much of Tad O’Malley (are people seriously using his web show as their source of nightly news?!) the Scully based episode actually bests the Mulder led episode one in which Scully learns she may hold the cure to the impending global medical disaster.  Even Agents Miller and Einstein were tolerable as they try and help the masses and that final scene…..cliffhanger much?!

MVP: Agent Monica Reyes! So glad to see her back (even though it’s without Robert Patrick’s Agent Doggett) but wasn’t too keen on her portrayed as a weak willed woman who would give in to cigarette smoking man’s demands.

Clearly that final scene with Scully looking into the down-shining lights of the UFO opens up the likelihood of more X-Files episodes.  I’d be more than happy with these short 6-10 episode stints and now with the backstory told, it opens up the ability to give fans a continuation of the X-Files we knew and loved.  Many fans are suggesting that if and when the show returns that creator Chris Carter ‘share the load’ or so to say and not monopolize his control of the show.  bringing in new blood to the world of The X-Files can only be a smart move to keep things fresh.

What did you think of the series?  Agree with my thoughts on each episode of disagree completely and feel that 10×03 was one of the best episodes yet?  Sound off in the comments above!