Lucien’s Retro Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Let me tell about two things.  First, about what I would argue is the greatest heist movie ever made.  This film is just fantastic.  It had a massive all-star cast, some at the height of their popularity like George Clooney, and some who were just breaking into the arena in the A-grade status, like Matt Damon.  Everyone had a ton of personality and their performances were just the best.  Second, I want to tell about about one of the greatest remakes ever made.  Not all remakes are shit.  It’s just that in the modern era (and I am glad to see this is something that Hollywood has moved away from), they are all shit because they are made for different reasons.

See, a great remake can be done, if the goal is to bring something new to the table.  You don’t want to make a film that is just another retelling of a different story.  You want to take your own angle with it and make it something that people will remember.  So you look at films like The Birdcage or Scarface or The Thing.  You see movies that were taking their own spin on the source material and doing something truly unique with it.  Not doing like a modern shitty Disney film (is there any other kind at this point?) and just cashing in on people’s nostalgia.  And let me tell you, Ocean’s Eleven hits the nail on the head with this.  Taking an old heist movie from the UK and making it American and giving it a modern flair.

The story goes that Danny Ocean is released from prison after he got busted doing what he does – stealing things.  Now, he’s a free man and is already looking to get back into it, with a heist of three Las Vegas casinos.  A man with a plan, he assembles a team of the absolute best in the world of crime, for a score that is unlike anything that had happened before.

What makes this film work is two-fold.  First, you have the acting.  Every single role in this film is perfect.  Every actor is just phenomenal, bringing their A-game.  Clooney definitely steals the show.  That guy is one of those actors who has fallen off the grid, but films like this remind me why he used to be on top of it.  Brad Pitt is pretty great too.  One of the things about this film is how they used subtle ways to characterize each role.  With so many characters in the movie, sometimes you had to have little cues who is being interacted with.  For Pitt’s character, it was food.  You often see him eating things when you first see him in a scene.  That’s fantastic.  He brings this great charisma to the role.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the late Bernie Mac.  RIP, Bernie.  Sad thought that eventually I will be saying the same thing about Bernie Sanders, but I digress.  He was pretty fantastic in this as well.  The scene with the van salesman is just hilarious.

The second thing that makes the film work is the writing.  I cannot tell you how much I love films where it is almost entirely told in truly perfect dialogue.  This film had dialogue so snappy that it made me think of something by Aaron Sorkin or even Tarantino at points.  Ocean had the best of it.  The way he could move through scenes by talking to people is the best.  Clooney really deserved props for it.  Not sure if he got any.  My memory that far back isn’t great.  It was now over almost a third of my life ago.  I feel so fucking old.

This movie isn’t especially complicated.  The heist itself is, but through the use of fantastic dialogue writing and some great performance regarding the heist itself, we got a film that oozes style and charm.  For some of these actors, it was roles that helped make their careers.  For others, it was films made at the height of theirs.  And for characters like Saul, it was roles at the twilight of their careers.  If you haven’t seen this movie, you really owe it to yourself to take the time to watch it.  I really do believe it’s the greatest heist movie ever made.

Now if only the TERRIBLE sequels and the even worse all-female remake hadn’t been made, this film’s legacy would be cemented in heist movie history.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Retro Review: Eternal Sonata

How did a JRPG with a partial focus on the life of Frederic Chopin, my second favorite classical music composer, escape my notice until now?  I heard about this game not too long ago, so I went to Amazon and got a copy.  This game is such a surreal experience, and it has joined the pantheon of my favorite JRPGs.  I have no idea where the concept of this game came from, but you know what, I’m glad that it’s a thing.  This game has all the components one would expect of a Tales game, without any connection to the franchise.  Let’s talk about it.

The story is told from the perspective of a dream that Frederic Chopin is having on his deathbed.  Inside the dream he is in a world of music, where everything is named after music in one form or the other, even though some of the names don’t make sense, as they weren’t around during Chopin’s time.  Musical puns aside, the story goes that this world is one where the only people who can use magic are the ones who are dying.  We follow Frederic and a team of companions as they go from place to place looking to find a way to save the lives of this world, and their friends within it.  Along the way, they learn about themselves, and their place in this strange reality that Frederic has told them is all in his mind.

First things first, this game looks absolutely amazing.  The visuals here are really something, especially for the time in which it was made.  Every environment is meticulously detailed in that cell-shaded Tales style.  This fact does partially work against the game, as the enhanced level of detail means that they had to cut side content to a certain extent.  Which means that this game is pretty linear.  But there is never a segment of the game that something doesn’t pop your peepers a bit.

Another thing is the characters.  More specifically the voice-work for them.  You have some hardcore veterans of anime voicework here.  Almost all of them, really.  Patrick Seitz voices Frederic.  You have Johnny Bosch, Mona Marshall, Mary McGlynn, and pretty much everyone else from the best days of anime dub work.  Every character has a ton of personality, no matter how minuscule their role is.  The villain is just the best.  Count Waltz is just chewing the scenery so freakin’ hard.  It’s pretty great stuff.  Frederic is my favorite character.  Patrick Seitz brings him to life as he is on a mission to figure out what his life has been about and what the meaning to everything was as he knows that the end is near.  This game is very bittersweet, as there is another character named Polka, who is able to use magic and is trying to make the most of the time she has left.

Combat in this game is turn-based, with characters able to move around a space and engaging in active combat.  But you have a few seconds before moving where you can plan your attacks and what you will do next. Combat in this game is deceptively simple, but it grows on top of the base it lays down, bringing in combos and chained special attacks.  By the end of the game, you are able to chain combos and special attacks between characters and really rack up some damage.  But the enemies are no slouches.  This game has a steep learning curve, but once you get good at it, it feels pretty spectacular.

The linearity of this game is the biggest thing holding this game back.  See, one of the things you do in the game is collect Score Pieces, which allow you to do performance sessions with other characters.  However, you really have to look around for these things, and sometimes you don’t have a piece that goes with the person you are performing with.  And doing these sessions is a worthwhile thing to do as it will allow you to get some pretty great stuff.  However, if you don’t have a piece that compliments the person you are performing with, then you’re just screwed as dungeons that you cannot revisit will have these people and if you miss out, sucks to be you.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that the game will take times out of it when it is thematically appropriate during the story to perform pieces by Chopin, along with give you some actual history of the man himself.  Given my love of his music, for me this was great stuff.  The imagery included during the scenes help tell some stories about the life of a man who died young but lived quite and austere life.  If you don’t like this kind of music, it will be something you hate, but for those like me who do, I found this to be fantastic.  Between this game and the little vignettes about Upik and Aleut culture you can unlock in Never Alone, it makes me wonder if there is something to the idea of video games being potential good tools to teach people.  Especially young people.  Call me crazy or an old timer, but I genuinely find it engaging stuff.

Overall, this is a fun game.  It’s got its flaws, and the message of the game can feel REALLY ham-fisted sometimes, beating you over the head with the obvious moral lesson.  But if you can see past that, there is a really fun JRPG here that will feel right at home to people who enjoy the Tales franchise.  I’m glad I heard about this game.  It has been well worth my time.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Borderlands 3

So…this game has problems.  Following up arguably the greatest looter-shooter of all time, Borderlands 2, is no mean feat.  I don’t envy the people who had to follow up that task.  The concept for this game has genius wrapped all over it.  You’re going from planet to planet, opening vaults and working to stop some hardcore villains, while there is a big corporate war going on too that you get dragged into.  That has perfect sequel written all over it.  And while I don’t think this is a bad game by any measure, it’s not the game I was hoping it would be.  It really does feel like more of the same, and while you’d think that wouldn’t be so bad, the utterly lackluster story and character is what sets this apart in how much it doesn’t live up to the last game in the series. Let’s talk about it.

Instead of Handsome Jack, now we’ve got some new douchebag villains to contend with – the Calypso Twins, and their nefarious cult, the Children of the Vault.  They want to open the vaults for unknown reasons, and you are going to assist them in doing so, as one of four brand new vault hunters.  We have worlds to explore and old friends to reunite with.  Time to get the looting and shooting going!

Like I said, this isn’t a bad game.  On a lot of levels, it’s pretty great.  You have some really refined shooting mechanics.  At least, to a point.  Can I just point out how utterly nerfed the shotgun is in this game?  In the last one, this weapon is the close-range murder machine.  You get up close and personal with this thing and cut your enemy down.  In this game, they feel so weak.  Sure, enemies fly around, but the damage level is such a freakin’ joke.  That aside, this game does have some great shooting.  Gunplay is slick, and so is using your abilities.  Which is good, because that’s pretty much all you do.  No surprise, right?  Well, kinda.

I will say that the main characters are a LOT talkier in this game, and that isn’t a bad thing.  Giving your characters actual personalities to play off those they interact with is genuinely enjoyable.  It makes the amount of time you spend doing the same thing, over and over again a little more enjoyable.  Which is where I get into my gripes.

The story in this game is garbage.  Hands-down, it’s bad.  Well, not so much bad, as unrelentingly boring.  There are never any stakes to this.  This is why I say that following up one of the greatest looter-shooters of all time works against this game.  Borderlands 2 had a captivating narrative.  The goal was simple – kill Handsome Jack and save Pandora.  The entire plot centered around the villain, and as such he had to be a pretty damn good villain in order for us to really want to make him dead.  Tribute to the creators of the game, he was.  One of the greatest lovable villains of all time.  Might make a list of those somewhere in the future.

In this game, they take you from one world to the next, but there is NEVER a sense of growing stakes.  By the time I realized that we were coming up on the end, I was thinking to myself – really?  Well, I guess that’s what we’re doing now.  And we were.  Which was it.  My disappointment cannot be measured in words.

One of the most marketed thing in this game was that you’d be getting two games worth of the gang (and a Telltale series) back together to go on one last big rodeo to kill the baddest mother-fuckers not just on Pandora, but in the universe.  And it doesn’t work!  Why?  Because you spend so little time getting to know them.  Sure, there are some fun interactions.  Zer0 being in the employ of the head of the Atlas Corporation and his haiku speech about enemies was pretty great.  But the reunion with Tiny Tina was rushed.  Same with Mordecai and Brick.  The reunion with Maya was basically just the plot doing what the plot does.  But where is Axton?  Where is my home-girl Gaige?!  This game has you spending a decent amount of time working with Hammerlock, and it does give his character some level of conclusion.  This was the key aspect they marketed on, and it fails spectacularly because of how uninvested the story feels in anything that you do with these people, outside of the events on Promethea.  That area had real stakes.  It was the one and only section of the game where you felt some actual conclusion to what happens.  At least until you get to the vault and the villains come back into the story.  And on that note…

The Calypso Twins suck.  Handsome Jack was lovable.  You liked how much you hated him.  He was such an asshat, doing these things to just fuck with you in little ways that left you really annoyed.  There were the big moments like where he kills Bloodwing and Roland, which were used well to bring the tension levels back up.  In this game, we get two absolute assholes who are the most annoying jack-offs ever.  There were several scenes where I was screaming at the screen to let me right when they are fucking up my day and there is no good reason why I can’t come into the fight and blow their annoying heads off.  I don’t love to hate these two.  I just hate them.  It’s ironic because I loved the hate the head of the Maliwan Corporation, when he is being a douche on Promethea.  Again, ties in to that section of the game feeling like it actually ends.

All this complaining, you probably think I hate this game.  I don’t.  I really, really don’t.  It’s just frustrating to see so much potential wasted because the game didn’t want to really take a chance and do something special with the concept it had.  Maybe the DLC sections will round this out.  I’m hoping that brings back characters that I love.  For real, where are Axton and Gaige?  Those two were my jam!  It’s frustrating to see a great concept ruined by disappointing execution.  Here’s hoping I’m right about the DLC.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Manufactured Crisis Over Cyberpunk Character Creator Being ‘Genderless’

Over my time on the Internet, I’ve watched all kinds of ideological epochs come and go.  There was the atheism movement that sprouted up, bolstered by YouTube, where Christian apologists’ ideas went to be destroyed by some of the best entertainers, very few of which are still around today.  Then we got to see the battle of liberal v conservative ideologies.  This was during the time when the Tea Party was still a thing, and the right made an absolute ass of themselves.  On YouTube, there was the infusion of social justice brand feminism into atheism, and how that split the community in two, all starting (ironically enough) with a video by a feminist about a guy hitting on her in an elevator and how that made her uncomfortable.  We had the rise of Anita Sarkeesian, and the insane culture war between feminism and video games.

Through all of these culture wars, I’ve watched the pendulums swinging.  They always find a side, but over time, some other stupid thing comes along and then the pendulum shifts.  We’re seeing that now.  Up ’til this point, it’s been this big battle with the regressive left making itself look like a giant ass (it’s the Tea Party all over again), and being infinitely mockable by those who stood against them.  However, a problem emerged.  It seemed that the side who was making fun of them was becoming just as petulant and pathetic as they were being.  In fact, they were really stepping up to the plate of trying to beat the people they mocked at their own game, all while mocking them still.

Which brings us to Cyberpunk 2077.  In their latest Deep Dive video, they decided to get into the nitty-gritty of the changes made to the game since the last demo.  According to various sources within CDPR, the game is so much unlike what it was back in the demo from 2018.  Naturally, people were excited to see what the game had become.  At least, most people were.  But in the new land of endless outrage by everybody, there had to be the naysayers.  Except this time, it was from the most unexpected sort one would imagine – the right.  The most right-wing of the anti-SJW crowd.

So what is their beef?  Why, the character creator, of course!  See, instead of picking a male or female option, now you pick a male or female build.  And from there, you can customize your character however you see fit.  Eventually you do settle on a gender identity you want to have, as CDPR has shown that there is plenty of gendered language characters use when talking to the main character, V.  You can just make your character whatever crazy amalgamation of gender and look you want.  Go nuts!  Have fun, go mad!  It sounds like this would be the kind of thing that would fit right in with a cyberpunk dystopia, but apparently not.

Twitter did what Twitter does – became a cesspool of people bitching.  Except this time, it was about something that makes no fucking sense.  For real, this is a cyberpunk world.  Why exactly would gender be something that is a limit to what kind of person you can be in this world?  A world of cybernetic augmentation, where you can give yourself Mantis Blades hidden in your arms.  Where you can hollow out your skull and replace the parts you took with tech.  In any decent cyberpunk world, where augmentation is out of control, you should be able to create whatever kind of fucked up person you want.

It’s why the reaction to the poster with the female looking person with a big dick made no sense to me.  This is Cyberpunk!  You can be whatever you want!  Do you want two King Kong dicks to plow a bitch in both holes?  You can have that!  You wanna have smooth alabaster skin and teeth like a shark so you can become a DC comics villain?  You can do that too!  Hell, do you wanna have your head on the body of an angel-baby with a giant cock and a unicorn horn on your head?  Assuming you have the cash for that, you can even go that far.  We saw in a trailer a chick who can remove her mouth to do her makeup.  This world is all about making your body whatever twisted thing you want it to be, to become whatever person you want.  So how is it transphobic to have a chick with a big dick?

Which brings us back to the conservative butthurt about the genderless character creator.  Where they are complaining about not being able to have a strictly male character.  A fact that isn’t even true.  If you want a character who looks male and is, you still can.  Same with female.  However you want them to identify, you can do that.  The difference is that you aren’t stuck with that in the outset.  Now you can make a character all your own, and choose how they are identified.

But the outrage was everywhere.  People saying they cancelled their pre-orders.  Saying that CDPR betrayed them.  Like they were Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.  So much outrage, and it literally made no sense to everyone in the gaming world who was paying attention.  Which begs the question – where did this outrage come from?  What was the source?  In my eyes, all of this outrage was 100% manufactured.

Sure, there are those who actually believe that this is all some kind of betrayal, and those idiots know who they are.  But then you have the people who are just using this for the clicks.  On the left and the right, people were getting on the bandwagon of talking about this, propping up what should have been a non-controversy.  It made for some really great videos that would all get a ton of clicks.  Thankfully, everyone with actual perspective on this was telling people to calm their tits.  That this makes perfect sense for the world they were creating and that people’s freaking out about it was just making them look like butthurt children.

The pendulum is swinging again, to the whining of two sides of butthurt children, and I’m content to not embrace either side.  I still think nothing of social justice, but the other side has become just as bad.  And they have the audacity to call their opponents “snowflakes.”  The irony of either side using that term to describe the other just blows my fucking mind.  But hey, if America didn’t have hypocrisy, what would we have?

Until next time, a quote,

“I had to remind myself to breathe.” – Lewis Black

Peace out,

Maverick

RIP, MCU (and Spider-Man)

For those who didn’t know, the MCU is quietly going to die.  Disney will keep pumping money into it for as long as they possibly can, on their new Disney streaming service that I have zero intention of paying money to.  The actually good Disney films are ones I can buy, and already have.  The best days of this absolute whore of a company are behind them.  Good riddance, if you ask me.  Naturally, their latest live-action remake abortions Aladdin and The Lion King made a shitload of money, because the dumb-shit audiences who just want their nostalgia boners stroked will flock to theaters to watch these movies with their dumb-ass kids that they couldn’t just show the originals to.  Because why show them timeless films when you can show them ones that will be dated in a couple years?  Lots of questions.  Man was this a digression.

It seems that the door to Spider-Man continuing to be part of the MCU moving forward has officially closed.  Initially, everyone blamed Sony, when it turns out it was Disney getting greedy and demanding more money from the proceeds, when Sony has to foot the bill for the production costs.  Essentially making these movies a financial black hole for them.  I guess the long term goal was to get Sony to just sell the rights to Disney and be done with it, but they stuck to their guns.  What a horrible mistake that was.

So now we can say goodbye to this franchise having any potential whatsoever.  Sony has already announced that they have six Spider-Man TV shows in the works.  Let me repeat that – six!  Six television shows for one character.  Groj-dammit.  I guess Sony’s latest plan is to just drive this IP into the ground.  After all, they want to make movies for all of Spider-Man’s villains.  Because that worked so well with Venom, right?  A movie so poorly reviewed that even Tom Hardy hated it.  You know, because Sony slashed all the stuff that was actually violent.  Guess he won’t be back for a sequel, which you know they will make because the film made enough money for it to break even, which means – gotta make a sequel!  I feel so bad for Tom Holland.  All of that notoriety, which will go to waste on progressively-worse movies, because it’s abundantly clear that Sony can’t manage this franchise for shit.  Sony Pictures is the bastard stepchild of the film industry.

Back to Disney, did you know they plan to have over 20 MCU productions in just two years?  There will be the big blockbusters, like Chick Thor and Doctor Strange Lovecraftian Nightmare (that one might be interesting) and Guardians of the Galaxy 3: Where The Last Remnants of the Good MCU Go to Die.  Oh yeah, and a Black Widow film.  Which I guess will take place sometime before she died.  Meanwhile, they plan to have a TON of shows on their Disney streaming service.  Like Captain Falcon and Woefully Poorly Used Winter Soldier, Hawkeye: The Lost MCU Veteran, and New Blade.  And that isn’t even close to the end of it.  Thing after thing after thing, each more creatively bankrupt than the last.

See, Disney didn’t do the smart thing after the end of the Avengers saga.  Instead of taking a break from the MCU, getting some creative ideas going and flushing out a new saga to go with, they instead decided to just shove as much MCU trash at you as they possibly could.  Just drown the audience in MCU.  Pimp out Disney’s new streaming service, that is just gonna have a bunch of corporate filtered crap.  And probably not the films for the best days in Disney’s tragic history.  The complete cynic inside me thinks that what’s going on with the MCU is that Disney is trying to make as much bank as they possibly can before this franchise goes under.  They can see the financial numbers about to go down since everyone’s favorite characters are gone.  Robert Downy Jr. is out.  Samuel L. Jackson is out.  The cast of Guardians is gonna be out soon.  Tom Holland is out.  So now they have to just capitalize on the nostalgia for something that’s not even old enough to be nostalgic.  Because that’s what Disney does now.  They are nothing but a complete whore who is so desperate for your dollar that they will shove whatever they think will get you into the theaters or onto their crap streaming service out the door.  Who cares if it’s creatively bankrupt.  The brain-dead American audiences will go see it, so fuck the haters, am I right?

Part of me wonders if things wouldn’t have gone a different way if Captain Marvel had been more of a success.  But since they hired a woman who couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag and gave writers that couldn’t write a “strong” female character to save their lives, she ended up being despised.  It’s why they wisely chose to limit her role in Endgame.  Thing is, it was pretty clear they wanted her character to head up a new Avengers style saga.  With her film being a bomb, though, they had to go back to the drawing board.  The corporate boardroom one, not the kind where actual creative people do great things.  I wonder if Disney has vague memories of what that is like.

So the MCU is going to pump out as much crap as they can, making as much bank as they possible can, before superhero fatigue finally goes full burn and the audience dies just like they did for Pixar.  At which point Disney is going to move on to whatever else they can.  Like how they have gutted 20th Century Fox’s original ideas and are only pumping out movies that are nostalgic.  Like did you know they are rebooting the Alien franchise?  You know, the one where it had two of the best science fiction films of all time with a female character who was actually strong and memorable?  Yup, Disney wants to capitalize on that drama, by giving us a bland cookie-cutter remake that will basically do nothing but suck nostalgia’s cock so the brain-dead morons who give this company their money will go see it.  Fuck modern Disney.  I hate these people so much.

All of this while they are going to be running Star Wars into the ground.  Disney seems to have taken a new tack with this franchise in how they run it into the ground.  Instead of a bunch of films that could be financial black holes like Solo, or absolute dumpster fires like The Last Jedi, they are making their non-numbered films into TV shows for their streaming service.  Which are going to mostly suck, but because they are on a streaming service, the reviews won’t crucify them.  Because that stuff never gets a lot of press, unless it’s the first season of Stranger Things.

What was all this about again?  Oh yeah, how the MCU is going to die.  In conclusion, the MCU is going to die the slow, painful death of a thousand cuts.  If my audience is smart (which I assume you are), don’t contribute to the financial “success” of these movies.  Don’t give Disney your money.  Deny them that bank.  Vote with your wallet.  Tell them we don’t want processed crap and want actual creativity.  You know what, never mind.  Nobody listens to me, and if people didn’t want this trash, they wouldn’t go see it.  So I’m just wasting my time.

Until next time, a quote,

“Sometimes, the American news is like a tired old whore who only tells you what you wanna hear.” – Doug Stanhope

Peace out,

Maverick

Conservative Butthurt Babies About Cyberpunk 2077’s Character Creator

Back in 2012, social justice in gaming reared its ugly head.  They found a new community to infest with their ideology, and the culture war over gaming has been raging ever since.  Back then groups of people who you’d never think would be on the same side of anything came together for one cause – to get people who are documented as not being part of any significant percentage of gaming from destroying a hobby that is near and dear to our hearts.  Those were some interesting days.  But now, seven years later, and things have come full circle.  The pendulum has swung right back around, and instead of social justice being the loudest voice with their stupid bullshit (though they are still around), the ones I hear from most these days is whiny, bitchy conservatives who are REALLY butthurt.

Over what, you may ask?  Well, how about Cyberpunk 2077‘s character creator.  For those who didn’t know, the newest trailer for the game dropped, and it looks freakin’ glorious.  Every time I see more of this game, the more hyped I get.  The action looks great.  The world looks fun.  The driving mechanics look simplistic, but it gets the job done.  Each part of this world has personality.  One of the things they showed off was the character creator system.  It seems that from the really long gameplay demo from last year, CDPR had some ideas on how to expand things.  Part of that included taking away the strictly male or female character types.  Instead, you start with a male-type build or a female-type build and can go from there.  They wanted it to be deep.  In a world all about transhumanism and surpassing physical limitations through cybernetics, this makes perfect sense.

As one might expect, this didn’t sit well with everyone.  Indeed, conservative audiences decided to get their butthurt going REAL quick.  They took to the Internet, mainly Twitter, and bitched and moaned at the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account about how they are so upset.  Many of them claim that they either are or already have cancelled their preorders.  Virtue a-fluttering as they say about how this is so disappointing and just them appeasing the “leftists”.  Reading that stuff is like watching a small child throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get the toy they wanted exactly as they wanted it.

I am so DONE with this culture war that is going on between the butthurt left and the equally, if not moreso butthurt right.  Both sides of this conflict are equally insufferable.  I’m a liberal.  Make no apologies for it.  I’m not one of these “leftists” that conservatives like to label people who are on the left side of politics.  I believe in open expression in the free marketplace of ideas.  Whatever your point of view, everyone should have a platform.  But both sides in this never-ending culture war just frustrate me.  In 2014, where things escalated, I was on a live-stream with some people and they said that all the sides who came together would never grow apart.  It would be a shared unity forever.  If only they could see things now.  The old battle lines are coming back, because social justice isn’t nearly the dragon it used to be.

What’s so funny about all this is that just recently, CDPR was labelled as “alt-right” by the games media circle-jerk.  Now they are being labelled as a company who just kowtows to the left.  Maybe now the left and the right can get behind hating this company together.  Come together and brothers and sisters in arms for hating a company who is making some of the most reliably fantastic gaming experiences, to date.

That got me to thinking – yeah, let’s hate on people who make quality content because of one stupid issue that a person has.  Maybe they can go back to Activision!  I’m sure they will fill the void for their anti-leftist content.  I’m not kidding.  Companies will see a market here.  Hell, Activision’s next entry in the CoD franchise is looking to be super edgy with its single player, putting a level from a previous game that was super controversial to shame with a game that goes super far into edgy darkness.  Big AAA gaming companies are getting nervous, with their lootboxes and “surprise mechanics” (Fuck EA and that terminology) being looked at with scrutiny that goes so far that 2K now has a game that has open gambling in it.  Governments of the world are looking to get involved.  The ESA has been lobbying the fuck out of pretending there’s nothing wrong, but the sharks are circling.  If the cash cow dies, AAA gaming is in trouble.

So maybe they can get on the pandering wagon.  Works for Hollywood, so why wouldn’t gaming do it?  Don’t like this game where you don’t have a strict gender option for a character, even though you can make a character who is straight male, you just don’t pick the gender right off the bat?  Well don’t you worry!  Activision’s got you!  Or EA’s got you!  How about Ubisoft?  Marketing by pandering to a specific demographic who is tribalistic and easy to please, so long as you just give them whatever they want.  Never mind that the games will be sub-par, riddled with microtransactions, half-baked, and probably part of some live-services boondoggle.  At least you get your character creator to what you want, right?

I can’t imagine being so pathetic that I would throw an entire game in to the trash all because of something as stupid as not getting gender-specific character creation.  A game that looks to have a deep story-line, combat reminiscent of Borderlands, and fun characters, but I’m just gonna hate on it because of one stupid thing that doesn’t really bother me anyway.  You still have to choose what kind of pronouns will be associated with this character.  So you can make your male power fantasy character.  Or, if you want a female build with a male voice and a beard, you can have that too.  In this future, you can be whatever kind of person you want.  That sounds like fun to me.  I guess the tribalistic right doesn’t agree.

Until next time, a quote,

“One sure-fire way to get noticed is to pander to a fandom.  Or as I like to call it, a pandom.” – JelloApocalypse, Welcome to Tumblr

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 MCU Characters

Now that the Avengers saga has ended, my attention into the MCU has ended too.  After 22 films, this franchise did something no other film series could have dreamed of, and all others who have tried have failed.  DC has been the absolute worst.  It looks like they’re walking away from that now.  Good on them.  I think the rest of Hollywood has walked off from it too, as they all have tried and failed.  Marvel did the impossible, and will never be able to do it again.  So now that it’s done, let’s talk about my favorite characters in the running saga.  Lots to talk about here.

10. Nebula
I actually didn’t think much of the first Guardians movie when it came out, aside from one of my favorite characters, who you will see much higher up on this list.  But Nebula started growing on me with the second movie.  She went from a generic villainess to someone with a complicated backstory who didn’t know what she wanted.  By the time Infinity War rolled out, she’s disillusioned with Thanos and is trying to get revenge, only to find that in the end, it only got her more alone, as her sister had died.  Once we see her in Endgame, she’s come full circle, trying to be a good person, and make up for misdeeds.  What’s more, she’s bonding with people outside of the circle we knew of.  It helps that she’s kinda hot, in that blue chick sorta way.

9. Black Panther (Only in Civil War)
I didn’t like the Black Panther film.  At all.  It was preachy, and stupid.  This character started out with so much promise, it’s a shame that it all went down the tubes.  However, when you first meet him in Civil War, he was a fun character.  Out for blood after the murder of his father, you like this guy from the first meeting.  He is distrusting of outsiders, and in a situation that is ugly.  With the death of his father, he goes from a man seeking vengeance to seeing what that mission leads to, ultimately choosing to show mercy and look to taking up the mantle of hero.  Helps that he was pretty badass in the film too.

8. Drax
This dude is just too much fun.  Like I said earlier, I didn’t like the first Guardians movie all that much.  By the second, all the characters in there really came into their own.  And this guy is just too much.  It’s so ironic that Dwayne Johnson gets so much recognition as an actor when every movie he is in is shit.  Meanwhile, here’s a guy who goes from wrestler to actor and does it flawlessly.  This character is so adorable.  His deadpan way of talking about things that are absurd is just the best.  When they find the body of Thor in Infinity War and he is talking about how handsome he is just tickles me pink.  Dave Bautista is the only man I can see making a role like this work.  It’s part of why I want to see Guadians 3, if only to see how that saga ends.

7. War Machine
I’m so glad they changed the actor on this to Don Cheadle.  This guy had so much great comedic timing.  Plus, the chemistry between him and Robert Downy Jr. was so much better than the first guy.  Col. Rhodes, Stark’s best friend, makes for a great superhero.  More of a sidekick to Iron Man, but that’s not a bad thing.  He’s a soldier, after all.  He likes to know where he fits into things.  I’m one of those people who actually liked Iron Man 2, and his debut in that was pretty fantastic.  I do admit that Civil War would have been more powerful if he had died in it, but you know what, seeing how his arc also comes full circle in Endgame was worth it.  Cool suit of armor, badass, and played by a fun actor.  What’s not to love?

6. Doctor Strange
I mean, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch.  You kinda knew that he was going to end up on this list.  God this dude just exudes cool.  Like, so much.  Having his ego up against Stark’s made for some of the best content in Infinity War.  And I did like the movie where he gets his namesake.  It was a formula that was done to death, but it was all in the execution.  The crazy fractal world of magic was rad.  Seeing his personal journey from an arrogant surgeon to the Sorcerer Supreme was believable.  I hear that the next film with him is going to be a straight-up horror movie, with a lot of Lovecraftian themes.  We’ll see if that is any good.  I’ll admit that a superhero horror movie has a lot of potential.  Especially with this character.

5. Thanos
One of the things that Marvel was (rightly) criticized for is having lame villains.  So when the previews were coming out for Infinity War, the big question was – what is Thanos going to be like?  What is this villain that they have been building up for so long going to be like?  What we got blew everyone away.  This dude was unbelievable!  Josh Brolin brought him to life in a way that no one else could.  His beliefs about the universe, and the forces that drove him were just spectacular.  A drive and dedication for a cause that has some real-world questions.  As morally awful as it is, overpopulation is a problem.  What should be done?  That’s hard to say.  Plus, he dies like an absolute boss.  When Stark gets the stones and does the snap, destroying everything, he dies with a lot of dignity.  Just sitting down and accepting it.  Such a boss.  Glad that the film series goes out on one of the definitive high points.

4. Nick Fury
It’s Samuel L. Jackson.  You had to know that he was going to be on this list.  Now, aside from the stupid shit in Captain Marvel that ruined some pretty epic lines in Winter Soldier, this dude has been excellent.  He’s a soldier, and a man of secrets.  He wants to do the right thing by the world, but often has a bad habit of being his own worst enemy.  Still, we see him change over the course of the narrative.  If it wasn’t for the dumb shit in the equally dumb movie Captain Marvel, his badassery in the franchise would be uncontested.

3. Rocket
This little bastard is the one thing about the original Guadians movie that stood out.  I love this character so much.  A lot of it is behind the guy doing the voice.  Rocket is just the best.  He’s a violent bastard who loves killing.  He’s a complete antihero, stuck doing heroic things with his friends, but doing little things to undercut it wherever he can.  His history is more than a little soft spot, and that’s one of those things that hasn’t really been explore, but still.  The scene in Infinity War, where he watches Groot die, again, was just heart-breaking.  Then we see in Endgame where he covers Groot when the ship is firing on them, not wanting to let his young charge get hurt again.  That familial relationship is just the best.  Sassy, badass, loves guns, and has a heart of gold under a streak of bad bits.  There’s nothing I don’t like about this character.

2. Spider-Man
I cannot tell you how much I love that they FINALLY got this character right.  For those of you who didn’t know, I HATED the Tobey Macguire version.  With the heat of a thousand suns.  The Andrew Garfield version had potential, but then wasted it.  Tom Holland, on the other hand, is just perfect.  When we first meet him in Civil War, he’s this adorable awkward teenager, just trying to do the right thing.  It begins the absolutely touching father-son relationship between him and Stark.  Homecoming was a good continuation of that.  It has the two cementing this.  However, the death in Infinity War was so heart-breaking.  The look in his and Stark’s eyes as he is vanishing away, and then in Endgame where he has to say goodbye to this man who is a mentor to him.  Great stuff.  This character is loads of fun, and only gets better.  Haven’t seen Far From Home, hear good things.  Will Netflix it, someday.

And my favorite MCU character is…

1. Iron Man
I mean, who else?  Robert Downy Jr. brought this character to life a way that ONLY he could.  No other actor could have made this character work in the way he did.  His perfect mix of sarcastic ego and genuine drive to do the right thing makes for a fantastic juxtaposition.  From the first time we meet him, you see his personal goal of finding redemption for his weapons being used against people he cares for.  This goal is what carries him all the way to the final choice he makes, to end Thanos and friends with a single snap of his fingers, with the Infinity Stones.  How his character went out in Endgame was inspiring.  I will say that the ending bit with him and the speech being delivered through a hologram was cheesy.  It would have had more weight if it was just a message he recorded and it showed the funeral and maybe having people move forward around him.  He’s gone from the franchise, and that’s the biggest reason I’m checking out.  Nobody else can take the reigns of this character like Downy Jr.  Nobody.

Until next time, a quote,

“No, it’s you who doesn’t understand!  Thanos has been on my mind for the last six years, since he sent an army to New York, and now he’s back!  And I don’t know what to do.” – Tony Stark, Avengers: Infinity War

Peace out,

Maverick