Sunday, February 28, 2021

Daft Punk Unchained

Of all the things to happen so far this year, the one thing I expected the least was the recent and sudden split of French house duo Daft Punk, whose music I discovered in high school and whose body of work I have been a fan of ever since. As a way to honor their legacy, I decided to watch the 2015 documentary Daft Punk Unchained, which I had heard about and didn’t actually watch until now, through a French import of a DVD/Blu-ray Steelbook set on a region-free player. Though I knew some stuff about the band already, this documentary taught me information about the duo that I didn’t know about before and gave me better insight into their musical ideology and impact.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Stubs - The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong. Directed by Aaron Sorkin. Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Produced by Stuart M. Besser, Matt Jackson, Marc Platt, Tyler Thompson. Run Time: 130 minutes. Color. USA Political, Historical, Drama.

This has been a year like no other when it comes to films in theaters. The bottom line is that there hasn’t been any worth risking one’s life to see. Not that there haven’t been good movies released but 2020 will be remembered as the year when a big release would go straight to streaming more often than not. Case in point, The Trial of the Chicago 7. Originally conceived as a theatrical release with none other than Steven Spielberg at the helm, Paramount Pictures would sell all distribution rights to Netflix when a profitable theatrical release seemed out of the question (it did get a short theatrical release before disappearing behind Netflix's paywall). Say what you will but putting a film on a streaming service does limit who can see the film, especially since downstream release windows are pretty much broken.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Hitman 3 (PS4)

Note: The following review contains spoilers for Hitman 2 (2018).

In January of 2021, IO Interactive independently released the final game in the World of Assassination Trilogy, Hitman 3, bringing the long-running story arc to a close. This results in a more story-driven game that actually enhances the experience more than it detracts from it, as it never once forgets that it’s a video game. Though Hitman 3 is certainly the best way to experience the Trilogy as a whole, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s basically an updated version of Hitman 2 (2018), not that that's a bad thing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hitman 2 (2018)

Note: This review contains spoilers for Hitman (2016).

After the release of Hitman (2016), IO Interactive split from Square Enix, their previous publisher, and got to keep the rights to the Hitman franchise in an unprecedented move. This led to their partnership with Warner Bros., which resulted in the release of Hitman Steelbook Edition and continued development of the World of Assassination Trilogy, including Hitman 2 (2018). Unlike its predecessor, Hitman 2 (2018) did away with the episodic structure and got a full retail release from the start. While Hitman 2 (2018) does feel very much like an updated version of Hitman (2016), it introduces enough changes to the formula that it feels like a better overall experience.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Hitman (2016)

Though the Hitman franchise has existed since 2000, I didn’t actually play any of the games until 2012’s Hitman: Absolution, which, while flawed, got me interested in playing the World of Assassination Trilogy, starting with Hitman in 2016. Due to the game’s episodic release, however, I waited until the Steelbook Edition, which collected all six episodes onto one disc, before I actually played it. However, I never reviewed any of the Hitman games, so with the release of Hitman 3, I’m going to rectify that starting with Hitman, a highly enjoyable, if flawed, start to the World of Assassination Trilogy.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Little Nightmares II (PS4)

After the release of Little Nightmares in 2017 and its Secrets of the Maw DLC, a follow-up game, Little Nightmares II, was announced in 2019. Having played the original game and its DLC, I was curious to see what direction the game would take, especially since it introduces a new playable character. After playing a demo for the game on PC, since that was the only platform I was aware I could play it on, I was intrigued even further and pre-ordered the game when I could. While short, I found Little Nightmares II to be an overall improvement over the original in terms of gameplay with some interesting ideas of its own, though the otherwise compelling story gets a little hazy towards the end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

New Super Lucky's Tale (Xbox One) - Luckier Than Ever

The original Lucky’s Tale was originally released as a launch title for the Oculus Rift in 2016, however what prevented me from playing it, despite it catching my interest, was my disinterest in the platform itself in favor of PlayStation VR. The game did, however, receive a sequel in 2017 in the form of Super Lucky’s Tale for the Xbox One, as a launch title for the system’s Xbox One X counterpart, which I actually was able to play. While I generally liked what I played, I did have some issues with it, plus I bailed on it when the final boss proved to be too difficult for me.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stubs - The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) Starring Jason Robards, George Segal, Ralph Meeker, Jean Hale, Clint Ritchie, Frank Silvera, Joseph Campanella, Richard Bakalyan, David Canary, Bruce Dern. Directed by Roger Corman. Screenplay by Howard Browne. Produced by Roger Corman. United States. Color. Run time: 100 minutes. Melodrama, Docudrama, Gangster.

The name Roger Corman is almost synonymous with low-budget cinema. Called "The Pope of Pop Cinema", Corman is perhaps best known for a series of low-budget films adapted from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe at AIP. He also mentored such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, and James Cameron. Corman also had a hand in launching the careers of actors like Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern, Sylvester Stallone, Diane Ladd, and William Shatner.

While Corman spent most of his career as an independent producer/director, he did for a time work with some of the Major studios in Hollywood. One of those films was The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, for then major Twentieth Century Fox. Given a budget of $2.5 million, he managed to make the film for $400,000 less. He apparently didn’t like the restrictions placed on him by the studio but many consider the finished work to be one of his best.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS5)

Following the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac, a stand-alone follow-up game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, was announced as a PS5 launch title, alongside a digital-only PS5 remaster of the previous game. Having liked the first game and gotten to like Miles Morales as a character through Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I was curious to see Insomniac’s take on him and how they were going to keep fans sated until they release a full sequel to the first game. While Miles Morales also launched on PS4, I weighed my options and went for the PS5 version, helped by the Ultimate Edition (which comes bundled with a voucher for Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and bonus content) being included in a PS5 launch bundle from Costco, which also included an extra controller.

The bundle itself took much longer than expected to arrive, an annoyance I wasn’t alone in experiencing, though once it finally arrived, I didn’t get to actually play the game until receiving it as a Christmas present. After finally getting around to it, I found it a worthwhile experience despite its short length.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Stubs - Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)

Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931) Starring Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Jean Hersholt, John Miljan, Alan Hale Directed by Robert Z. Leonard Screenplay by Wanda Tuchock Based on the novel Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise by David Graham Phillips (New York, 1917). No Producer Credited (Irving Thalberg) Run time: 75 minutes USA Black and White Melodrama, Pre-code

David Graham Phillips was an American writer and novelist who was killed by a paranoid named Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough, a violinist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1911. Goldsborough thought Phillips had cast literary aspersions on his family, to be more exact, he thought Phillips had used his sister as “as a model for the complaisant heroine" of the novel. After shooting Phillips, Goldsborough turned the gun on himself, shooting himself in the head.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Untitled Goose Game (PS4)

Since its announcement, Untitled Goose Game became somewhat of an internet meme, largely due to its unusual title and visual style, as well as its premise of annoying a village as a goose. I had seen gameplay of it, but got interested in playing it myself and eventually got a physical PS4 copy from iam8bit that came with a couple bonus items. Although it lives up to the hype, its rather short length for the price left me a little torn.