When Matt asked me if I wanted to go see a screening of the new Aladdin, I screamed inside. Aladdin was my absolute favorite Disney movie growing up, next to James and the Giant Peach, so I was more than excited to see the live-action version!
I know some people cringe when they hear that Disney is remaking their original classics. I’m a huge fan of Emma Watson, but I wasn’t in a hurry to watch the new Beauty and the Beast or even Dumbo – it’s just that Aladdin is my homeboy!
(I am pumped for the new Lion King though… but that’s between you and me.)
As many of you know, Aladdin is about a charismatic street rat (Mena Massoud) who falls in love with Princess Jasmine of Agrabah (Naomi Scott). Since Aladdin isn’t a prince, he has no chance of marrying her, but ends up with the magic lamp. With the help of the Genie (Will Smith), Aladdin is determined to win the Princess over by defeating the Sultan’s “most trusted advisor,” Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), proving he is worthy.
This vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1992 animated classic does it justice. Directed by Guy Ritchie, I appreciate him for sticking to the original story. All the classic songs were sung well, and they even gave Jasmine a couple of new songs — as all Disney Princesses should have. It was interesting to see that even though this 2019 version runs longer than the original, they ramped up and de-escalated the story very quickly. I still really enjoyed the movie and thought the actors did a fantastic job portraying each character. Their singing voices even matched the original voice actors to where I almost thought I was watching the original!
Now, when I first saw the trailer that aired during this year’s Super Bowl that Will Smith was playing the Genie, I thought it was going to be weird. But because this movie is a modern take, it fits well. Will Smith is sassy just like the genie (and Robin Williams, R.I.P.), and although I do miss the merchant seller in the beginning of the animated movie, I thought Will Smith telling the tale of Aladdin to his kids was touching.
SPOILER ALERT! The Genie has a love interest and they have kids.
The biggest thing that won me over in this movie was the costuming and choreography. Every single outfit was stunningly detailed. The colors were vibrant and beautifully put together. And the choreography, OMG amazing, it had me dancing in my seat. Very Bollywood and I loved it so much. Like, Korean and Japanese dramas are making a comeback, why can’t Bollywood films?!
The only thing I missed from the original movie was more “dialogue” from Aladdin’s monkey Abu, Jafar’s parrot, Iago, and the Magic Carpet. Obviously, animals can’t talk in real life, but I wish they were incorporated more because they really are great supporting characters that make the small details work. Oh, well.
Aladdin was definitely a better-done live action remake from Disney than the rest. I’m interested to see how The Lion King works out!
But if you decide to only see one live-action Disney movie, this is the one. Go see it! Go!
What actually happened to many of the world’s most famous treasures? What if they’re forever lost in an unmarked site, waiting to be unearthed by some treasure hunters who just happen to decipher the vague, left-behind clues? This is one of the main pulls for television series like Lost Gold of World War II.
At the end of WWII, Japan’s General Yamashita surrendered, was tried and executed all before revealing the exact locations of the loot he plundered throughout Southeast Asia. Rumored to be priceless artifacts, jewels, military secrets and gold, his initial plans may have been to leave behind picture codes and symbols in order for The Golden Lily, a secret society linked to the country’s royalty, to return and reclaim the plundered prizes.
On Luzon Island, in The Philippines, a six-person team (along with their head researcher, who is based in the U.S.) follows up on eyewitness accounts, discovers a story rock, uncovers mysterious symbols and by the time the season finale airs, finds a hidden underground tunnel, whose entrance may have been opened up after a record-breaking typhoon hits the island.
As a sucker for the buried-treasure subgenre that lurks within various basic cable channels, even if scripted, is it possible this reality TV could actually be real? From the start of the series premiere, “Death on the Mountain,” I was intrigued at what may or may not remain hidden within the rumored 175 treasure sites. The season finale attempts to connect the dots between a history lesson and an education on global politics.
“Yamashita didn’t bury this in a day and we’re not going to find it in a day.”
Other than the exotic foreign location, the difference between this show, Oak Island and others is the rest seem to deal with a TON of urban legends, fighting to find the truth. Lost Gold simply doesn’t have hundreds of years of tall tales surrounding its buried treasures, as the waning days of WWII happened much more recently. Should social media have been around during General Yamashita’s time, surely the missing treasures would have been instantly found. But with Nippon Star’s shady connections and a little background information on the Black Eagle Trust Fund (an unofficial, off-the-books CIA funding for covert operations), I’m instantly hooked and wonder who else may have already attempted to reclaiming some of the lost loot.
All of this is beside the point, as Peter Struzzieri, John Casey and his team fought off conflicting symbols, multiple failed attempts and unbearable jungle conditions to discover a tunnel, cutting Season 1 short with a MAJOR cliffhanger. Since it’s filmed on location, Lost Gold may be incredibly expensive to produce. Regardless, eight episodes is not enough for this series. Sure, History may not have fully realized it had a ratings gold mine on its hand at the time, but that’s way too short for Season 1.
Lost Gold complements The Curse of Civil War Gold (Will Civil War Spin-Off Disband the Oak Island Fellowship?) and The Curse of Oak Island, as this channel seems to be hopping on the conspiracy and buried treasure wagon for major ratings… and it’s succeeding. But how long can this series last? The only remaining key eyewitness to have seen Yamashita’s handiwork up close and personal has now passed away. How will Grandpa’s death affect the team’s work going forward? Without the ability to dig a little deeper behind key clues, their treasure-seeking journey may be quickly stalled. Are there any 70-year-old booby traps that may still function, preventing any further revelations? Will any representative of The Golden Lily secret organization finally make a statement about the situation? What is the secret identity of the confidential informant who may or may not have key blueprints to treasure locations found throughout the island nation? Will anyone else have their lives threatened while seeking the truth? These are only a few questions that arise after wrapping up Season 1.
These treasure hunters are definitely undertaking a dangerous journey to uncover one of the great unsolved mysteries of WWII. Deciphering and translating the strange signs, symbols and dead-ends will hopefully be aided by more research and boots-on-the-ground exploration. I feel less skeptical that these hunters will uncover something more tangible than the Oak Island crew, as their journey to revealing lost history has taken place throughout hundreds of years that could have involved many scenarios where the prizes were moved to another place. This one is more recent and feels like it’s actually possible to find treasure from multiple locations throughout the islands that hasn’t already been claimed or deteriorated.
History has basically molded reality TV into a treasure-hunting subgenre. While it’s absolutely possible nothing of value will actually be found, here’s to hoping the TV crew and its featured explorers will inspire more people into discovering the facts of secretive lost truths of the past.
Headline news inundates us with 24-hour news cycles of violence, government conspiracies and global politics. Such is the backbone of Deep State, which highlights the motivations of global elected officials, the fallout from their actions and all the money in the world, which is seemingly responsible for EVERYTHING.
EPIX has a taut spy thriller on its hands that absolutely deserves more promotion and publicity from the premium network. What begins with a creepy remix of Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime” leads into the chaos of war, which often leads to civilian casualties. I recently binge watched Season 1 in order to fully prepare for the recently released second season, and I must say, those eight hours pack a punch (or two) that’s a whole lot to actually absorb within a short amount of time.
The first season revolves around Max Easton, a previously decommissioned British intelligence agent and retired Secret Service operative who is brought in to cover up a global government conspiracy. Portrayed by Mark Strong (best known for his work on Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Shazam! and the upcoming The Dark Crystal: Resistance, the viewer quickly learns that former spies never age gracefully… they always seem to get “coaxed” back into the field. In Easton’s case, the lives of his family are threatened if he doesn’t help out his previous employer. Situations get incredibly complicated when it’s revealed that Max’s estranged son, Harry (played by Joe Dempsie), has followed in his father’s footsteps. There’s lots of time jumps involved, plenty of half-truths and lots of lies, a never-ending ominous feeling of death lurking around the corner, deceit, torture, traitors, double agents and mutinies crammed within flashbacks and flash forwards, fully dripping with politics.
Killing people is what this father-son duo has in common, and they both do it very efficiently. Paired with Karima McAdams as Leyla Toumi, who is exotic and pristine with her acting, these three British agents have gone rogue, trying to decipher current events, relieving global tension with nowhere to turn. Fighting for their lives after undergoing an undercover mission gone horribly wrong, their country has turned on each of them. Without a home, these characters’ strained relationships rise to the surface.
“There is no starting again in this life.”
When you wage a war against the CIA, there are no winners… only survivors. And in this case, no one is accidentally left alive. Eventually, you’ll become a problem that needs to be dealt with. This is what Max and his family learn in Season 1. These good guys feel like they’re the bad ones and the government agency that’s hunting them down is always in the right. I didn’t really expect Max to outlive his usefulness and actually surprised myself, getting a little emotional when he returned to live with his family. Will he live happily ever after, though? It was tough caring for the hardened former agent who’s full of sullen seriousness, but I found myself happy with the outcome of the first season.
Season 2 begins with a translator in trouble, a new group of militants and the same two agents, now working apart, on opposite ends of the world. Everyone seems to be exiting the government rat race and moving into the private sector, including Harry and Leyla. Loyalties are questioned, all sorts of cover-ups are revealed and the war on terror continues, this time without Max. Flashbacks and flash forwards reveal this is actually an origin story for the duo, as it’s both a prequel and a sequel to the first season. Getting to the truth seems to be an ongoing difficult matter for our heroes, and as revealed in the spoken-words intro… “nothing ever changes.”
Deep State does a great job of setting up powerful cliffhangers, getting you hooked into wanting to watch just one more episode per sitting. The games that people play lead to diplomatic pissing contests for power and control of information, which is the ultimate asset. Trust is a hard thing to come by for these characters, and often bad things happen after it’s given.
“People aren’t interested in the truth anymore… it doesn’t play like it used to.”
Heavy with intrigue and paranoia, Deep State feels like it could be a distant relative to many of the great spy programs of the past, almost as if it could be an updated version of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 (which I thoroughly enjoyed), had it existed on a premium cable channel. Each episode’s set pieces look incredibly expensive, as it looks like all shots were filmed on location.
Deep State is a family affair. After watching 1.5 seasons of the show, it grows increasingly clearer by the episode. Harry’s incredibly stubborn just like his dad, refusing to let things go, especially refusing to allow the U.S. government to screw him over one more time. But what happens when government secrets are exposed? NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!
Season 1 was tough to digest at times, but Max made the whole process worthwhile. The prequel/sequel/story continuation of already-established characters (and their unexpected revelations) is what makes Season 2 an even more intense experience, having seen the entirety of the first season. There’s the beginning (and possible ending) of various romances between these characters, arms dealers, corporate kidnappings and conspiracy theories that are revealed to be true. There’s a lot to follow in these two seasons, but if there was one theme to be especially mindful when watching: FOLLOW THE MONEY. Because that’s where the truth will lie.
Programming for EPIX has been strong, with television series including the crime-comedy Get Shorty, the spy thriller Berlin Station, the upcoming Perpetual Grace LTD and the excellent docuseries, PUNK. If you don’t receive the EPIX station in your cable or satellite package, you can use the EPIX NOW app for Apple and Android devices to watch the channel’s programs. It’s $5.99/month, but users can get a free seven-day trial. So, there’s no excuse in missing out on this great and gritty series.
The term “bad seed” has been used quite a bit when describing a certain genre of horror films. This type of film replaces the innocence of a child with a void of pure evil. Several films have pulled this off nicely in the past. Back in 1956, the aptly title film, The Bad Seed, was one of the all-time greats in this field of films. Patty McCormack’s memorable portrayal of Rhoda Penmark made this film the watermark for others that would follow. And several were also great, including cult films like the Children of the Corn series, The Omen and even The Good Son were very good at making you fear kids.
And then there was The Prodigy.
The Prodigy is a 2019 film from director Nicholas McCarthy, starring Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott. It opens in the year 2010, on the night that serial killer Ed Scarka is killed by police. At there same moment of his death, Sarah and John Blume give birth to a healthy baby boy they name Miles. Miles is a very smart child and acts years beyond his age, which thrills his family. On his eighth birthday, Miles starts behaving odd. His childhood pranks start becoming more and more vicious and he starts speaking foreign languages. When confronted about these antics, he has no memory of the events in question.
This film doesn’t bring anything new to the bad seed genre. In this day of films, people have an expectation that if you are going to remake what has already be done, you should add your own little flare to it. The creators behind this film failed to do it. What they gave seemed to be a lackluster attempt to just present the same story with no new twists. For someone who doesn’t watch a lot of horror/suspense films, this may be decent. But for those who love this genre, they gave us nothing more than a snooze fest.
Not everything is bad about the film. The acting was great, for the most part. My only gripe would be with the character John, who seemed to go off in a fit of anger a little too much. In one scene, he finds out that Miles had been spying on his mom and dad with a baby monitor. He immediately went to confront Miles and was very aggressive toward him. As a parent myself, it just didn’t seem to be the right move. A little more concern about my child would come into play. But since the scene has Sarah telling Miles that John will be staying away for a few days until he calms down, I assume the writers needed a way to isolate Sarah. I get it, but it just didn’t fit the characters, in my humble opinion.
I can’t think of much else to say about The Prodigy. The movie was just the generic “bad seed” horror film rolled out with nothing new or exciting. For this, I have to give this film two out of five stars. I am hoping that the creators choose to throw some new twists, should they decide to make a sequel. But, in my opinion, it’s time to just let this film die and move on to something else.
It’s about that time of the year! Only 12 days until Momocon 2019, an all-ages Geek Culture convention in Atlanta, GA, celebrating their 15th year since inauguration! Matt has gone previously, but this will be my first time attending Momocon.
I am so excited!!!
It’s been a good while since I’ve been to any convention. The last one was Roosterteeth, DreamHack, and Wizard World when I was living in Austin, TX in 2017. Before Austin was Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) and Geek Media Expo (GMX) here in Nashville, TN, back in 2013 and 2014. With more than 35,400 unique and over 100,800 turnstile attendance in 2018, MomoCon has become one of the fastest-growing all-ages conventions in the country, trumping MTAC and GMX combined!
Although I am not hardcore into anime, I am looking forward to seeing thousands of fans geek out over their favorites. Growing up as second generation in America and having English as my second language, I tried to assimilate myself into American culture by watching a lot of American animations, like Rugrats, Hey Arnold and Doug. At the same time, many Americans were learning about Japanese culture and anime all while watching shows like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten into anime more as an adult, recently getting back into watching Cowboy Bebop, Attack on Titan and One Punch Man. I am super stoked to get to see Dj-Jo on Saturday, a vocaloid producer who specializes in EDM remixes of music from franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul. He’s a musical genius.
Not only will there be awesome musicians and writers, but amazing and talented cosplayers.
Having dabbled in creating cosplays for the Adventure Science Center’s Way Late Play Dates and GMX, I’ve been itching to put some fabric down on my sewing machine. I’m really looking forward to speaking to Casey Renee Cosplay, the winner of the 2018 TwitchCon cosplay contest. Her costumes are so elaborate that it blows my mind! Casey is an incredible needle worker, and along with Gabi, the costumer, I’m hoping to learn a few tips or tricks to help me get back into sewing.
I seriously cannot wait for Momocon! I haven’t had time to create any cosplays for this con, but will definitely dress up a couple of the days. Last Halloween, we had a costume contest at work and I created a Princess Peach costume. With Samantha Kelly, the voice of Peach, attending Momocon this year, I will definitely break that dress out.
I cannot stress this enough: I AM SO EXCITED to attend Momocon this year — not only to witness amazing guests, but also to see the panels and exhibitors!
I found that lately I’ve been hoarding random objects because I feel I can use them to create cool things, but I just came to the realization that I don’t have the time or room to keep doing this. Moving to San Francisco in July, I’ve started training myself to only purchase already-made collectibles from talented artists. I am not taking all my random junk across the country. No way, no how.
Anyway, time to stop babbling. Be on the lookout for some all new Cosplayer of the Month columns and possibly some interviews from great Momocon guests.
If you happened to watch the season finale of The Orville last week, you might have noticed one of the main characters didn’t make an appearance until the episode’s final act. At times, working the Moclan character into an ensemble storyline has been difficult for Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (portrayed by Peter Macon), who has been a highly controversial character on the TV show ever since the series’ third episode aired, “About a Girl.” That was the one where the alien creature and his male mate decided to perform a controversial sex reassignment surgery on their newborn child. It wasn’t enough that creator/producer/writer/star Seth MacFarlane felt the need to push his personal politics onto the series’ audience, but he also felt the need to try to make everyone agree with his feelings.
Hint: Didn’t work.
Coming from a bleeding-heart liberal, this is just par for the course. Whereas The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Original Series would often disguise social reform within the science-fiction genre, MacFarlane has been as blatant as beating the show’s audience over their heads with his beliefs. Apparently, his views are correct and no one else is allowed to have an objection on the filmmakers’ production side, as it wasn’t a one-time thing. MacFarlane doubles down for Season 2, as Bortus returns to live out his sexual fantasies in the holodeck, which doubles as a pornographic simulator, while cheating on his life partner. Did I mention the alien race is an all-male species, by choice? This kind of scenario is one I’d expect on late-night pay per view, not airing on network television.
I’m trying so hard to like The Orville. I really want to like the TV show, but I absolutely despise these Bortus-centric episodes. In fact, with the first one airing so close to the series premiere, I actually quit watching the show all together — it couldn’t get any worse. Curiosity didn’t kill me, as I eventually caught the reruns airing in the summertime, which returned my interest to the show. After the sophomoric humor that appeared in that pilot episode, it tried very hard to be the “new” Star Trek for a modern age, even though Star Trek: Discovery aired not long afterward on CBS All Access. Now that it’s trying to be more serious, can the writers please get off their high horses and stop preaching their politics to the masses?
Nobody asked for MacFarlane’s politics (or Brannon Braga’s, for that matter) to rear its ugly head as a premise on this show. I’m no prude, but having an alien race taking part in a gay pornographic simulator is going too far. It wasn’t funny. It didn’t move the storyline forward, it NEVER would have happened in Roddenberry’s Universe… it was simply done for shock value. I don’t like the Bortus character at all, as it’s written so poorly, it’s often forgotten about in all storylines except those written explicitly for the Moclan.
I’ve given the show a second chance because I’m still trying to support quality science fiction airing on network television, but I’m this close to quitting it for a second time — this time for real. Having stopped watching it once already, it’ll only take one more explicit Bortus episode to push me over the edge for good.
With the closure of Disney’s buyout of FOX, I wonder what changes are in store for the television program for Season 3? Although the family friendly mega media company has bought out the majority of 20th Century Fox’s assets, Disney does not own own the rights for the network TV station. Does that mean that both Disney and Fox are partial owners of the series? And if so, how long can it survive once a demand is made by one party (such as cleaning up all future storylines) and the other side refuses to make any changes?
The future of the series really is up for grabs, but Disney tends to ALWAYS get what it wants. That could mean cancellation in the near future, with MacFarlane picking up the pieces and moving the show to a streaming service. Or the future could be brighter with a more streamlined writer’s room. Stay tuned, sci-fi fans. We’ll find out what happens sooner or later…
Bringing a writer’s life to the big screen and making it interesting has been a hit-or-miss proposition for Hollywood throughout the years. What can often be described as an isolated event, taking pen to paper (or more accurately these days, typing on a keyboard) doesn’t quite lend itself to an engaging visual experience in HD. Sometimes, however, writers can bring an incredible behind-the-scenes worldview that is more incredible than anything they can imagine creating. Tolkien brings this aspect to light, as author J.R.R. Tolkien struggles to create his epic Middle-Earth novels.
Growing up penniless and an orphan, biopic fans will recognize this as a classic underdog story. But it is the fellowship J.R.R. finds among a group of creative writers, artists and musicians that forms a brotherhood that will eventually become the basis of his well-known written works. While there really isn’t a singular Big Bad antagonist involved within the main storyline (which could be a bad thing), John’s courtship with Edith Bratt (played by Lily Collins) and the emergence of The War to End All Wars threaten to break up this strong bond of friendship.
Fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings book series will notice nuggets of fan service scattered throughout, although none will be beaten into your head for your recognition (with the exception of Smaug’s cameo). You will notice bits of inspiration scattered throughout, but that’s not the primary focus here (THAT would make an even better movie!). Nicholas Hoult carries the weight of the film on his shoulders. While I’ve never gone out of my way to praise the actor, he has always given blue-collar performances in his big-budget appearances (Mad Max: Fury Road and the X-Men movies), so this smaller, more intimate film seems just right to shine the spotlight on the thespian to get his due recognition.
Superhero fans will recognize the origin story setup, although I’m not a fan of the flashback style of storytelling that seem to be prevalent in these type of movies. Lily Collins’ performance is the emotional strength of the movie, here portrayed as the biggest influence of the author, offering encouragement for the writer to finally complete his never-ending story or to quit writing altogether. Her character also knows how to pull on the heart strings, as I found myself crying multiple times with each turn of these characters’ events.
With Disney finalizing the company’s buy-out of Fox, this could be one of the last big-screen releases of Fox Searchlight, as the film studio will soon be shuttered. This movie should see small to moderate business, more so in England, but may not have much of an audience here in the States, as it competes with the likes of Avengers: Endgame and other summertime blockbusters. Hopefully, the lead actors will receive awards nominations later this year and an even bigger audience will be awakened for the movie.
As a fan of biopics, I had no idea what to expect from the director or the two writers, as I’d never heard of them before. Check out the trailer to determine if you’d be interested in watching the movie, which I’d recommend. At the very least, you’ll now realize you were pronouncing his name incorrectly for all these years (it’s toll-KEEN). And if you attempted to grasp the storyline of The Silmarillion (which would make a great HBO fantasy series, if created by the Game of Thrones producers) by reading and re-reading until you could finally figure out what was actually happening in the book like I did, you’ll immediately understand why the author had a hard time finishing his novels (many of which were completed by his son, Christopher Tolkien, after the author’s untimely death). You will definitely see some sly references to his written word in this film, which I really enjoyed.
TOLKIEN | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight - YouTube
Another season has come and gone and the treasure hunters on The Curse of Oak Island feel like they’re getting closer to finally solving the never-ending riddles that continue to pop up. Will Season 6 of the reality TV series finally resolve the 223-year-old unsolved mystery?
Airing on the History Channel, Oak Island is the No. 1 non-scripted series on cable. It’s safe to assume there’s an audience out there who wants to see some results after the crew has spent millions of dollars in heavy equipment, supplies and everything else in order to get a little closer to finding concrete answers as to what might lie underneath the surface of this Nova Scotia property. But there’s plenty of detractors out there, as well, who deny there’s anything beneath the Canadian island, and so much of the show has been created just for ratings. Then there’s people like me who just enjoy the research and historical findings the on-camera representations of the show have found, in search of the truth, even if nothing is ever truly “found.”
The season finale, “Lost and Founding” revealed a few more nuggets of information, while promising to get the results of the crew’s underground seismic testing that took place in the swamp, trying to uncover any man-made objects or structures that might appear as anomalies… just in time for the season premiere of Season 7. Seems convenient enough.
a slipway reaching out into the ocean was unearthed
mysterious U-shaped and L-shaped structures were unearthed
as well as a new structure with vertical cuts that was also found
There was also a worker’s strike that prevented any heavy machinery work around the Money Pit to be completed. A few more coins and pieces of parchment were found. Slipway wood was professionally dated to 1769, which was approximately 25 years before the Money Pit was created. And yet another bizarre new theory was floated out there: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers of America could have been told about the treasure, which possibly financed The Revolutionary War, totally rewriting U.S. history. As the crew continues to search for a flood tunnel convergence point in Smith’s Cove, while dodging possible booby traps, a mystery wall emerges.
“Another day, another structure.”
But hints of Marty’s departure surface. Marty Lagina has been the stick in the mud for this crew multiple times in the past, casting doubt on ever finding any true treasure. Has he given up his Oak Island quest bfor good, disbanding the treasure-hunting fellowship after all this time, money and effort that he invested? Moving on to his spin-off project, Marty’s son, Alex Lagina, has now joined his father in participating on The Curse of Civil War Gold. At the end of the show’s first season, Marty had finally agreed to finance Kevin Dykstra’s journey to locating the loot that he thinks was revealed in a deathbed confessional. Could it be lying at the bottom of Lake Michigan? Maybe this show can be filmed cheaper than enduring the elements on Oak Island, and can possibly be stretched out to an even longer amount of time for a television series.
With crossover “characters” and a crossover storyline, it’s the perfect time for Marty to defect. But what kind of adverse effects will this cause to Oak Island? We will have to wait and see to be sure. One thing is certain: The brotherly bond and group-dynamic fellowship will definitely be different next season without Marty around. Whether being negative or actually “realistic,” Marty has been a big part of Oak Island‘s success. He brings credibility to Civil War Gold and Alex brings… effort. Here’s to hoping for the success of both shows next season.
Today’s video game market is overflowing with Zombies. It’s almost as if there is an evil Alpha sitting at the top of the video game world who has decided to let loose the hordes of walkers upon the people of the world. Some have been great games, like most of the Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead series. Some have been total dumpster fires (not going to name names, but just look at the App Store on your smartphone or the cheap games on Steam). But one thing is true: People are just burned out on rotting corpses.
This was one concern from some of the gamer community when PlayStation announced Days Gone. It was going to combine two overly used mechanics: Zombies and open-world gameplay. I had to tell myself, “It’s not going to suck. It’s not going to suck.”
Glad I was right.
Days Gone pulled me in with its story, right from the start. After reading up on the background of the game, I wondered how they were going to make me care about bikers in the post-apocalyptic world. But they hit it great. Normally, I skip over storyline and go straight to game play, but I stopped and actually watched the story. In the first scene, you meet the main character Deacon (the Daryl Dixon archetype), his biker brother, Boozer, and Deacon’s wife, Sarah. With his wife and friend wounded, Deacon makes the choice of sending his wife away on a helicopter to help, staying behind to ensure his compadre lives. It was in this moment you see a side of Deacon that endears himself to you: He’s loyal to those closest to him.
Flash forward two years and the game really starts. Deacon and Boozer cruise around the land, basically working as bounty hunters. Society has collapsed after the Zombie Apocalypse, where the undead are known as Freakers. These mutants have lost all the pigment in their skin, along with any humanity they may have had. In their “pay for play” lifestyle, the choices the duo make sometimes would be seen as barbaric to a civilized world, but in this world you have to make choices that benefit you and screw the rest, if necessary.
Come to think of it, Deacon is almost a clone of Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Let’s see: Loyal to his “brother” and the woman in his life. Rides a motorcycle. Carries a crossbow and hunting knife. Ruggedly handsome. And gets thrust into situations where he has to do things to survive, regardless of morals.
So, besides a good story, Days Gone has some very beautiful graphics. I don’t have a PlayStation Pro, but still this game looks amazing on my 1080p screen. Open-world games can get tiresome because all you have for long periods of time are just repeated graphics. And I know this is probably true in Days Gone, but I have yet to notice it. I am on day 800-something and it still feels fresh. Other games, like Spider-Man or even Far Cry, would have lost me. But Days Gone takes the post apocalypse and turns it into something that is both beautiful and gruesome, at the same time.
Everything about Days Gone sounds great, right? Well, unfortunately, the gameplay has a lot to be desired. I thought maybe I was the only person having problems in the game, since I am using an older PlayStation. But after watching some Twitch players and Youtubers, it became very apparent that I was not alone. The control of the character in the game just sucks. Driving the bike at the beginning is very hard to do, and your bike is the most important piece of gear you have in the game. I know it gets better as you advance, but it takes a long time of fighting the game just to steer your bike without wrecking.
Fighting also has little to be desired. It seems like aiming is incredibly hard, with headshots being miracles, rather than skill. And if your enemy gets close and melee is unavoidable, get ready for some issues. Many times I would be trying to chain hits, only to have the Freaker or enemy biker still be in his “damage pose,” causing me to miss and giving them a free hit on me. Be prepared to spend a lot of time running away and healing. And don’t even get me started with the hokey menu system in the game.
As I mentioned, the bike is incredibly important. You use it as your primary way of moving around, as well as your ticket to “Fast Travel” between locations. However, the bike you start the game with is brittle and hardly holds any gas. You spend a ton of time repairing the bike (it takes damage if you hit anything, which is nearly impossible to avoid with the control issues), as well as finding gas. I guess it makes sense with the “end of times” happening, but it is still more of a chore. The bike just needs some slight adjustments to let it have better gas mileage. I would like to go five miles without having to stop and find fuel.
So, what score do I give Days Gone? I have to say it is a solid seven out of 10 stars. The story is great and offers many different storylines to follow. The world is visually perfect. But the controls are just flat-out horrendous, the menus are hard to navigate, and the meta game of “Excite Bike 2019” all greatly pull down this game. The great thing about these failures is that they can be fixed with some patches. So, all is not lost for this game, reaching out to be an eight or nine in the future.
When it comes to television shows, there are not many that make me think as deeply about life as Barry. There are so many subtleties that end up becoming full-blown revelations later on that I can’t help but tell everyone I know about this show.
Meet Barry, your well above-average local hitman for hire (played by Bill Hader). Barry is a Marine veteran and all-around badass. On his first mission to take out someone in an acting class, we find that Barry chooses to embrace a simpler side, by wanting to become an actor instead. This is a huge change, as hitmen usually do not want to be known, and acting — well, let’s just say being known is the bread and butter for any actor.
The only problem is, Barry is a terrible actor, much like everyone else who attends the class taught by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler). When Barry taps into his alternate personality, he finds that he’s actually an impressive actor, but unbeknownst to everyone around him, when he becomes a great actor, he really isn’t even acting. It’s all the reality around him spilling out into his emotions — emotions which Barry has suppressed for some time. He’s burying those emotions to the point where he no longer feels or even acknowledges them, which is what made Barry such a great assassin. We see Barry start to make mistakes soon after letting those emotions leak out that he bottled up for so long. The main reason he even starts to let those emotions out is because of his new found “love” for two things: acting and co-student Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg).
“These feelings that you’re having right now, these are the paints for your acting toolbox. That’s what this class is about. Getting to that, taking that apart and dealing with it. It’s called being human, and that’s what acting is.” — Sally Reed
I feel that this show has a lot of nods to notions of Karma. Growing up Buddhist, Karma is something that I think about and see often in my life. Barry doesn’t want to be a hitman and tries to claw his way out. Due to his father figure, Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), Barry gets sucked into more crime, which means all the negativity in his life isn’t going to vanish immediately. Barry wants to put an end to his tragedy-causing life and move on to something that he can be proud of.
Barry wants to seek acceptance from those that he holds closest in his life. However, Karma keeps pulling him back into the life of a hitman.
We see Karma hitting many other characters in this show. While there is much negativity happening, we also see the light doing its best to control the dark through the character Detective Janice Moss (Paula Newsome). She’s desperately trying to stop gang violence and is hot on the trail of a faceless killer that she believes is the key to all of the destruction that is happening between the two factions (the Chechnyans and Bolivians). Further, we see Barry struggling with the light within — having an existential crisis. We see him daydream of a life that could be with his new-found crush, but quite often those daydreams are interrupted by the crushing reality that he has left himself with. The daydreams Barry has are comical and ironic, as they portray a world that is ideal to Barry, but nothing that could ever happen in real life.
Barry has to make a lot of decisions that affect the lives of those around him, and it’s a question we’re often left with: Did Barry do the right thing? Killing his once best friend, killing the love of his mentor’s life, and even leaving behind a father figure who kept him from becoming another statistic of war. When Barry tries his best to become the man of his daydreams, he does a great job of shooting himself in the foot. All of the desensitization of the Marines and being a hitman has left him without the ability to really connect with someone in a naturally humanistic way, so he ends up being a caricature of someone else.
Overall, I really enjoyed the style of directing and writing in the first season. I have only known Bill Hader to do comedies, so it was a refreshing to see his brilliant performance come through with this dramatic series. The range of his acting has given me a whole new respect for him. An excellent part of the show is its use of sound — there is perfectly placed suspense music, rock music and theatrical dialogue. There isn’t a single character that is out of place. Alec Burg and Bill Hader have really created something special and I cannot wait to jump into Season 2 of Barry.