Lucien’s Worst Game of 2017

You know what I hate?  When a good idea is taken and used in something really, really boring.   To have something with so much potential just get flushed down the shitter.  It’s worse when it involves talented people too.  Because when something is boring and made by people you don’t care about, then you can just say that it tried something and failed and maybe they can do better next time.  But when it’s something where all the people involved are very talented, it makes you wonder what went wrong.  My least favorite game this year isn’t especially bad, it’s just inordinately dull.  And I genuinely don’t get how it can be as dull as it is with the elements in it.

Observer

I just can’t get over how a game with this much potential was such a snooze.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world where corporations rule everything and nations are now just corporate zones, where there are special kinds of cops who are able to get inside people’s minds.  That should be a recipe for success.  The potential of that is overwhelming.  We could have it asking some dark ethical questions, like when the main character goes into the minds of people who don’t want to be invaded, or what constitutes invasion of privacy when this guy is uncovering people’s weird secrets and has to live with that.  There is a lot of creepy places that this idea could go.  But nope,  It’s just a boring, bland, by-the-numbers horror game.

Why did they feel the need to have segments where you are hiding from a monster?  Because they’ve done it in all their other games?  This game was supposed to be about fear coming from going into the dark parts of people’s minds.  That’s a freaky concept.  The fear potential there is amazing.  Remember that god-awful movie The Cell?  Imagine if that concept didn’t suck and was done right.  Being able to jack in, with your own mind coloring the mind of the person you are in.  It would make more sense why the observers get so fucked up after a while.  They can’t handle the strain of being in a person’s mind that way.  Plus, you could see all kinds of people and how they process fear in different ways.  Maybe if this game had more budget or more time in the oven with ideas this could have gone a long way.

The game has you investigating crime scenes, and that’s actually fun!  Using your cybernetic implants to look at things in different ways is really cool.  But it’s all done so quickly and doesn’t go much of anywhere.  This game is too short for its own good.  Maybe with a AAA budget they could have really gone deep into this concept.  I don’t know.

But by far the most disappointing thing to me was that they got Rutger Hauer involved in this.  That’s some damn big talent right there!  And to his credit, he was interesting in the performance.  It didn’t sound like he was phoning it in.  I hate that such a talented man wasn’t being given the chance to reach his full potential.  Like seeing into some homely Christian’s head and realizing all the fucked up things there are in there, and then having to go into some deranged lunatic’s mind and seeing all the whacked shit in there.  Getting to hear his reactions to some of that kind of thing would be interesting.

Overall, it’s just boring.  Bad games are one thing.  They can be annoying.  But I don’t go looking for that.  Too poor to spend that kind of time and money.  I look for games I am going to like, and this game was supposed to be one of the.  The trailers had me really interested.  The end product, however, was a game too short to be interesting and with some insane voice talent that goes nowhere.  It’s more annoying than anything.

What was the game you liked the least this year?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“This better be worth it.” – Daniel Lazarski, Observer

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Best Game of 2017

This has been an interesting year for gaming.  A pretty quiet year, to be honest.  At least up to the end.  Things have gotten pretty loud and insane over all the to-do with EA, and I have no sympathy for the.  Last night we got to see everyone gush about Kojima’s latest game, but here’s my question – when are we gonna get to see gameplay?  That’s my deal.  Naturally, Nintendo had everyone fawning and gushing, but for me, It’s Sony who stole the show.  My two favorite games this year were exclusive to them, and both were amazing.  The margin for favorite game comes down to such a narrow margin that I had a hard time picking.  But here it is.  My totally important pick for best game of 2017.

Persona 5

Never in all my years did I think I would end up hearing the words AAA JRPG.  This game had delay after delay, and man did it pay off.  Never has my belief that I don’t care how long a game gets delayed, if they can make it perfect been vindicated.  This game is a marvel of its genre.  We live in an interesting time.  We have AAA stealth games, AAA arena FPS games, AAA fighting games, and AAA survival horror games.  The AAA market is learning that players have gotten bored with the same old thing every year.  We want something new.  And wouldn’t you know it, Atlus decided to make it happen.

This game is a masterpiece of the genre.  An almost-perfect masterpiece.  The center of it is the story and characters.  I love every one of these characters, except Haru.  She’s kind of dull.  You have such a vast cast of characters that you can forge relationships with and then inevitably become either life-long friends or in some cases lovers with.  The levels are fun and all, but I always was way more interested in finishing those up fast so I could spend time with my favorite characters.  When I got to go through New Game Plus and develop all of my companion relationships and the rest of the cast, it made it so much more enjoyable.  My biggest gripe with the game is that because the time system is so skewed, we don’t get to spend enough time developing our character and growing the confidant relationships.  No such issue in New Game Plus.

Voice acting in this game is at the top of its game.  Every character has such personality that bursts onto screen in the best ways.  The Confidants should have just been boring subplots, but they’re not!  With so much of Tokyo to explore, you can take people around and get to know them in different ways.  So many permutations of interactions and places to see in different ways, it felt like I could never run out of things to do.

But the rest of the game is fantastic too.  The battle system is clearly mapped to the controller and combat flows as smooth as silk.  As you develop relationships with the confidants and companions, it affects your play style in a vast number of ways.  But the pinnacle of each dungeon are the bosses.  I love how unique and interesting every boss in this game is.  No two is alike, and while some of the later ones drag on (the final boss is ridiculously long to fight, almost to the point that if you don’t have a fuck-ton of potions, it’s going to really suck), they are still a real test of your skill.

One thing I like is that making confidants and growing tight with them isn’t just a fun narrative to explore.  There are real consequences to it in the rest of the game.  Leveling up with companions allows you to trade characters with them, have them back you up during hold-ups, or even take a hit for you when you’re at your lowest point.  Confidants can teach you things like how to trade out any character on the fly, customize your weapons, get better healing items, and become better at negotiations by getting leadership skills from a confidant who is a politician.

What’s more, the game has even more depth.  See, some characters can’t be leveled up until you level up yourself.  By paying attention in class, studying, and doing various activities, you can level yourself up.  The sheer amount of stuff to do is amazing.  It really wraps you up in the world of the game.  I can take on a crazy burger challenge one night, hang out with a friend at the movies, and then see my girlfriend the next.  So many options, except when the game takes away control from you.  Again, ties in to my biggest gripe.

Finally, there’s the music.  The jazzy tunes are the best!  I have so much of that soundtrack on my iPod.  So much of that gets stuck in my head.  The woman they got to do most of the numbers is just amazing.

Overall, this game is a milestone for its genre.  JRPG games are treated as just this niche thing that will never have a place in the rest of the market, but to have a game this good come from this genre, and for it to be a AAA title is just magnificent.  Atlus did an amazing job, and I am eager to see what they come up with next.

Until next time, a quote,

When I took you in, I thought I was the one helping you,but it turns out it was the other way around.  Take care.” – Sojiro Sakura, Persona 5

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds DLC

This game was such a marvel.  For the studio that made it to have never done anything like this, and build everything about this game straight up from scratch, from the combat to the visuals to the world, it is a masterpiece of the medium.  It loses out to my favorite game of this year by the slimmest margin you can imagine.  I love it.  And to all the feminists who say that we don’t like games with female protagonists, suck on Aloy’s non-existent balls!  She is badass and doesn’t need you losers to defend her.  When I heard that they were making DLC for this game, I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad that I didn’t let that stop me from making the jump.  This DLC is everything that DLC is supposed to be.  It’s what I look for in it.  For $20, I got so much more than my money’s worth.  The ONLY detraction I have is that this is the only DLC this game is getting, so far as I know, and that kind of pisses me off now that I’ve seen what potential there is.  Let’s talk about it.

When you buy this DLC, it can be a little weird.  You wouldn’t know it was added on to the game unless you look at the map and see a mission marking.  A new area has been unlocked.  A banuk territory call The Cut.  And you are able to go in there and look around.  Take it from me, do NOT go into this place unless you have reached the end of the game.  Challenge is the word, but we’ll get there when we do.  Aloy reaches The Cut and realizes that not all is well.  There is a different demon in this place, and it is up to her to find out the problem and set things right.

Where do I begin in talking about this DLC?  First, let me say that this place opens up a whole new stomping ground.  And it is awesome!  My biggest problem with the actual game is that there are all these tribes and all of them have this neat cultural perspective, but we don’t get to see much of them.  We still haven’t gotten to see Ban Ur, or the Claim, or much of anything from this weird jungle tribe that you hear about but never see.  I want to!  You’ve shown all the potential for creating narratives and building culture just with environmental story-telling, so show me more!  I wanna see more!

In addition to have a ton of area to explore and a plethora of side-quests to do in addition to a fascinating main quest, you have a vast array of characters to meet and get to know as well.  It offers perspective on virtually every tribe.  But the banuk are the center, and I am glad of it.  Seeing so much about their culture is fascinating.  And the voice acting is phenomenal across the board.  Ashly Burch is quickly rising the ranks of my favorite voice actresses, and her role as Aloy is awesome.  Even for the smaller roles, no matter how briefly we get to know them, they are memorable.  It makes the fact that we never really get to follow up with characters later that much more frustrating.  That is one thing this game needed.  It got the action and RPG elements done well, but some of the world-building and character interaction could have been improved.  But that’s just splitting hairs.

We also get some new weapons to play with!  Each one is focused on an element, and that’s just super.  I legit cannot wait to put them to work on some of the monsters I’ve fought in New Game Plus.  A fantastic addition in an update, though I am kind of annoyed that the face paint is something you have to unlock.  I was hoping we’d get that as something you can buy and play around with.

The missions are all unique as well.  This game seemed to know that it was telling a 100% banuk story, and all of the story missions help you learn about their culture in some way or another.  I dig that.  Sure, there are a lot of hunting missions, but there was one mission where you get to track down killers and learn about crime and punishment that was fun.  The Witcher 3 had a lot of gamers seeing side-quests in a new way, and this game ran with that very well.  They are hinting at a sequel, so they better not lose sight of that.  This studio has proven themselves beyond anything I expected, so let’s see more!

Oh, and there are new monsters as well.  That was something I was also annoyed at in the original game.  The machine variety got pretty stale, pretty quick.  That’s not to say that it’s bad, I just really wanted to see more.  This game seems to realize that, and gives me what I want.  We have two new machine varieties that are tough as nails and fun to fight.  We also have legit boss battles!  Your first foray into The Cut has you fighting a boss that is a brand new machine variety.  It shows you that this DLC isn’t fucking around.  These things are tough, and are not messing around.  You either bring your A-game to the fight, or you are going to die.  A lot.

Which does bring me to being sad that this seems to be the only story DLC for this game.  Come on!  You’ve shown you can do this kind of narrative to show us a whole new section of the game’s world.  Let’s see more!  Show us some of the Claim!  Let’s take a look at how the osram live.  Or what about this mysterious jungle tribe?  When you talk about new enemy variety, that has potential in spades!  How about a snake machine!  Or insect machines!  Lets fuck with my arachnophobia and make a giant spider machine!  There’s an idea!  There is so much potential in this world, and I am loving this DLC so much.  It was a fantastic foray back into this world, and my genuine sadness is that it may be the only one before the sequel.

All-in-all, this is a masterpiece of a DLC.  It does everything good DLC should do, and I loved every minute of it.  If you loved this game and haven’t downloaded this, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Check it out, and fall in love all over again.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

What a weird year for Marvel films.  Everyone says that they’re getting tired of all the Marvel films, because they’re so predictable and stale.  Part of me thinks that someone at Marvel heard that, and has been eager to change things up.  And wouldn’t you know it, but this year has delivered two very good films that may not have shaken the formula to its core, but at the very least have made things different enough to have people enjoying them more.  Nowhere was that more apparent than with the sequel to one of the funniest films in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy.  A film that not only had some surprisingly good character development, but a villain who actually caught me off guard.  Sure, the formula is there, but at least this film plays with it, and it actually feels like it is expanding on the lore of these characters, rather than just retreading old ground.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that sometime after the events of the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy are now for hire heroes that do nice things for pay.  Not a bad racket.  However, after Rocket decides to fuck things up for them because he can’t stop himself, Quill’s father comes back into the picture.  Backstories are explained, and characters’ true motivations are revealed.  A villain who actually has a motivation that isn’t just copy-paste comes up and now another battle is on to save the galaxy.  Like I said, it still has that formula, but it does it oh so well.

I’ve complained to no end how films are now basically just becoming endless CG bugs me, and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t the case here.  This film is ALL about the CG.  It’s fucking everywhere.  That being said, it was still pretty.  I think the director knew that everyone would be noticing the constant CG so he took a very interesting tactic – use brilliant colors as a way to offset people’s disdain for it.  That’s pretty clever!  The same thing was used to good effect in Doctor Strange, though this film also had color used for comedic effect at times.  Constant, vivid colors was all over this movie, and I’m genuinely glad it was because otherwise I would have been rolling my eyes a lot over how fake so much looked.

Which is one one of my flaws.  It’s pretty clear that while Baby Groot was cute as fuck, he was never in the shot and everyone who pretended to interact with him wasn’t really interacting with him.  That was painfully obvious.  Plus, yeah, some of the sets were so blatantly just people in a room with green-screen absolutely everywhere.  I’m honestly glad I am not one of these people who watches making-of videos of movies, because I bet watching people just being in green rooms acting is both depressing and funny.

The film also brings back it’s truly fantastic soundtrack.  I love the musical choices in these film.  How each track is used also perfect goes with every scene that it goes into.  The opening is the most known and parodied, but there is a ton of places that each track is used well.  This director knows his stuff oh so well.

Speaking of, the comedy in this film is so on point.  It’s kind of nice to see a film where all the heroes are pretty much anti-heroes pretending to not be.  These people are such assholes!  I love it!  Every single character in this film is kind of a douche, but the chemistry between all of them is just fantastic.  My favorite is still Rocket.  This guy is such a dick.  He is the biggest anti-hero of them all, but the way he plays with that just makes him so lovable.  Maybe it’s that inner asshole in me who can’t get enough of it.  Hell, even Drax is funnier in this film.  His complete lack of a filter is just too perfect.  Plus, he said one of the most cathartic lines to me on a personal level.

“When you’re ugly, people love you for who you are. When you’re beautiful, you don’t know who to trust.”

For someone who struggles with body image issues due to balding that isn’t especially pretty, this strikes such a chord to me.  My self-loathing is a constant struggle.

Overall, this isn’t a perfect movie.  Yeah, the formula is still there.  But it still feels like a breath of fresh air.  I’m glad I got to see this on Netflix.  A good Spider-Man film and now a good sequel to a flawed original that takes it to the next level.  With the MCU looking to wrap up now that Infinity War is coming, I genuinely think I’ll be able to look back fondly on it.  Marvel caught lightning in a bottle, which DC is now pathetically trying to imitate.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1: Awake

I’ve talked at length about how my favorite game of 2015 was Life is Strange.  While it had its flaws, it told an interesting narrative about a girl with time powers and a mystery that unfortunately had a lackluster conclusion.  The outright-terrible ending of the game, however, didn’t ruin the entire experience for me.  I still love everything leading up to it.  It’s kind of like Mass Effect 3 in that regard.  When I saw the announcement for this, I was more than a little pissed.  I mean, why would I want a prequel?  It’s a story I already know!  Rachel and Chloe were tight as fuck, Rachel was secretly in love with Frank, she gets killed.  What more could they fill in?  I said in my First Take post that if this was just some stupid prequel telling us crap we already know and nothing else, I would ream this game a new one in a way that Square Enix would feel.  I’m happy to say that this prequel challenged my skepticism.  It’s not perfect, but for the flaws it has, it has some things done better.  Let’s talk about it.

This game is still a prequel.  Set four years before the events of the original game, we see a much younger and much more vulnerable Chloe.  She’s trying to get into a concert where a band who is weirdly playing the tune of another band (did the actual band not want their name associated with this game?  You’d think they at least would have had to have the song licensed, so why not just play as yourselves?  Odd).  After getting in trouble, it’s here that we see her meet Rachel Amber, the most popular girl in her school.  From there, our young protagonist gets involved in a new life of freedom, friendship, and maybe something more.

There’s a lot to say about this prequel, and it’s a lot of the same stuff one could say about the original game.  For starters, the dialogue is just as bad as the first episode of the last game.  Maybe this is a trend with this game.  I don’t know who their writing staff is, but no teenager anywhere talks like this.  But just like the original game, that grows on you after a while.  It sure as hell grew on me.  So there’s that.

The visuals are much better.  They’re using the Unity engine, and it really stands out.  The faces in-particular.  My biggest complaint with the original game was that the faces were so inexpressive.  Better facial animation would have made some of the best scenes of dialogue even better.  Here, there is much more expression, and it makes the dramatic climax of the episode really good.

One thing I do miss is that the time powers are gone.  Now, instead of being able to rewind and make a choice about whether or not you want to follow through with something, you have to basically own it.  Not gonna lie, that does bother.  You also can’t restart episodes from various chapters.  That’s kinda frustrating too.  Here’s hoping future episodes fix that.  But you do have some new mechanics.  Like this back-talk mechanic that makes no sense in reality but it is kinda cool that you get to play mental games with people.

Let’s talk about the characters.  There are some REALLY weird voice-actor changes that totally take away from characters.  For example – David.  I grew to like him at the very end when you finally see under the hood of his mental problems if you tell him that Mr. Jefferson killed Chloe and he shoots him.  Whoever they got to replace him as a voice actor does NOT sound at all like a torn-up veteran.  The first guy they got was a douche, but you believed he’s a tormented veteran haunted by what he saw.  This guy sounds like a fucking doofus.  There is no presence with this guy.  Same with the dude they got to replace William.  I can at least forgive that because you only see William in dreams.  His weird speech patterns fit with the scenes they are in, but still.

Ashly Burch is back to play Chloe, and I genuinely do like her character more.  It’s pretty clear that the voice actress is older, but the performance feels more genuine.  Stereotypical punk Chloe is cool and kinda hot, but young and vulnerable Chloe is genuinely more interesting.  One of my biggest complaints from the first game was the fact that we never got to meet Rachel Amber, since I assumed that the power Max had has some connection with her.  Thankfully, I at least know that’s right.  But that gets into spoiler territory for this game.

Something I’d like to add is that there is one genuine improvement over its predecessor.  So many choice-based games make it so that the choices feel meaningless.  This episode doesn’t!  There are a ton of variations, little things that change in scenes because of choices you make.  It was surprising when I’d go through the same scenes over again and have them play out differently because of things I’d done.  That’s pretty cool.  It gives me some hope that the decisions I make in the end will actually amount to something.

Overall, this game is about growing up.  It’s about Chloe accepting that her dad is dead and making a new friend and how she can’t deal with how alone she is.  We also get to peek into the life of a character who I always wanted to meet.  But I am glad to see that it isn’t just a prequel to stuff we already knew.  They actually go back even further than recent history and give us some stuff.  We get some hints as to the nature of the supernatural in Arcadia Bay, which I am desperately hoping they run with.  I’m curious to see where this goes, and while I do hate how much Max gets shit on, we have two new characters to see where things go.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Shin Godzilla

What a fascinating film I just watched.  I love me some old Godzilla movies.  The effects are so bad, but the kaiju fighting is just too much fun.  Plus, watching them dubbed adds an extra layer of cheese that cannot be compared.  I didn’t really like the new Godzilla movie that America made, partly because there was so little of the actual monsters.  A similar criticism could easily be leveled at this movie, but I won’t.  Why?  Because this film just took the most fascinating approach.  There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this film is just focused exclusively around Godzilla.  No other kaiju to fight.  This movie has our titular monster as the big bad, which again sounds like it would be boring, but this movie just so odd.  It tells the story of a new Godzilla in a world where he never existed, now coming for Japan (what is his beef with that place?  What the fuck did they do to him?) and the Japanese government desperately trying to save their country from destruction.

This film is perhaps the most political movie I’ve seen in years.  It’s weird.  95% of this movie is spent with characters just talking.  There is so much talk about Japanese politics that you almost forget that you’re watching a Godzilla film for a while.  I wanna hate that, but I don’t.  Getting to see this Japanese government and some genuinely-likeable characters desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of an international threat that is looking to take excessive measures to stop Godzilla is genuinely touching.  The head of a special department who is trying to figure out a way to stop Godzilla specifically is my favorite.  You genuinely get the feeling that he is invested in this effort to save his country.

Since the entirety of the movie revolves around the political sphere, if you hate listening to people talk about politics for almost the entirety of the 2 hour runtime of this film, you’re gonna hate it.  That’s the big and small of it.  Even when you see things happening in service to the plot of the film, they always find a way to bring it back to the the government’s efforts and how international pressure comes into play.  It’s actually kinda smart.  You genuinely feel for these people who are stuck in a world where they have red tape and public to worry about.  I like this perspective.  In the American film, it was all about a small section of military characters, none of whom were particularly interesting.  This movie has a kind of authenticity because they keep it focused on Japan and make the outside world as not evil, but disconnected.  You can take all this for what you will.

That being said, this film has a LOT of elements that are silly to the point of ridiculousness.  Since there are a lot of American characters in this movie, you get some genuinely funny Engrish.  This female character who is the American liaison to Japan is my favorite.  It’s clear that she’s a Japanese actress and English is NOT her first language.  But believe it or not, they get real American actors to play American parts.  The problem is that the writing for these actors is clearly done by somebody where English is their first language.  So the dialogue is so fucking stilted.  It’s kind great.  Oh boy.

Speaking of ridiculous things, let’s talk about the effects in this movie.  In the old films, it’s clearly someone in a suit.  This time they decided to trade in the suit for CG, and it’s…terrible.  I love it.  When you first see Godzilla in his original form, it looks so bad that I was laughing my ass off.  The eyes especially.  That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  Maybe that’s why they worked so hard to keep the focus off him.  Because too much time with the monster and we would have been laughing our asses off.

But it isn’t devoid of cool effects.  There is one scene that just blows me away.  It’s when they finally do real damage to the monster, and he loses his cool.  What follows may not be amazing, but is done with so much finesse and really good musical cues that you feel how desperate the situation is.

One thing I do wanna point out is a track used in this film.  When I first heard it, I laughed my ass off.  It’s so clearly robbed from Evangelion.  I mean, to the point of shameless.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I know that FUNimation is at least partly licensed in the production of this film, I’d be amazed that they haven’t sued the living shit out of this studio.  It’s so obviously the track from Evangelion.  They do change it just a little bit later in the film, but it’s not enough to make me think it’s anything else.

I also wanna talk about this film’s weird habit of suddenly taking strange angle shots right the fuck out of nowhere!  I mean nowhere!  They’ll suddenly have a shot from the weirdest angle and then cut away.  Whoever was behind that decision, I want to know why.  These shots just come and go in a split-second, and serve no purpose in any scene they are in.

Overall, I’m not sure how to rate this film.  There are a TON of flaws that one could easily nit-pick to death.  But, I had fun watching it.  This is a genuinely entertaining movie, for me.  Maybe it’s because I liked these characters, and the politics they were talking about was genuinely interesting.  I don’t know.  But your mileage with this movie will vary.  So glad I watched it with subtitles.  If I had had to suffer the dub, I know I wouldn’t have been able to take ANY of it seriously.  The genuine strength of the performances comes out only in original Japanese.  This review may not make much sense to you, but this is the best I can talk about it.  Do with my review what you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick