FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

IN A GALAXY OF ITS OWN!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

After an outrageous mission, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his team of galactic defenders meet Ego (Kurt Russell), a man claiming to be his father. However, they set out to investigate the secret of his parentage.

With all the introductions out of the way in their previous instalment, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is all the better for getting straight into the action and building upon the interpersonal relationships of its titular motley crew.

Though lacking the shiny, newness novelty of their origin, this sequel does what a successful sequel does best. It’s a rip-roaring adventure that builds upon what mades its predecessor such a delight to experience. The perfect balance of humour and heart gives us breathing space from the excellent action sequences, spread across some of the most beautiful and imaginatively conceived worlds and locations ever depicted in a comic book movie.

It goes without saying that the cast are in top-form here, with Groot working more effectively as a pint-sized baby rather than an oversized oaf. And it is through Groot particularly that we see the strong familial bond that the Guardians have developed. It always feels real, so the stakes are always high.

Yes, the film goes a little over-the-top towards the end and there are a few painful examples of clunky dialogue, but we are so enthralled and engaged that these are forgivable sins. The narrative is interesting without being convoluted and the introduction of each new character serves the plot well: Kurt Russell is unsurprisingly good as Ego and Pom Klementieff is likeable as Mantis. Also, Michael Rooker is excellent reprising his role as Yondu Udonta, while Karen Gillan, returning with more to do as Nebula, is quite exceptional.

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will find this one of the best films so far, and some may rightly favour this over the first Guardians adventure. Sure, it’s a flashy spectacle, but one with its heart firmly on its sleeve that dances to the beat of a terrific soundtrack. 4½ / 5

 

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Laura Haddock, Gregg Henry, Seth Green [voice], Fred, Evan Jones, Jimmy Urine, Stephen Blackehart, Steve Agee, Mike Escamilla, Joe Fria, Terence Rosemore, Tommy Flanagan, Charred Walls, Richard Christy [cameo], Michael Rosenbaum, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Miley Cyrus [uncredited voice cameo], Stan Lee [cameo], David Hasselhoff [cameo], Rob Zombie [voice cameo], Jeff Goldblum, Ben Browder [cameo], Molly Quinn, Jim Gunn Sr. [cameo], Leota Gunn [cameo], Guillermo Rodriguez [uncredited].

Director: James Gunn | Producer: Kevin Feige | Writer: James Gunn (based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) | Music: Tyler Bates | Cinematographer: Henry Braham | Editors: Fred Raskin, Craig Wood

 

Available: YouTube and Google Play

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #18: Countdown to Infinity War—Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

DOCTOR IN NEED OF LIFE SUPPORT…

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Doctor Strange

Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

After a tragic car accident, talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) must put his ego aside to learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions.

With the combination of previous sequels and team-ups, the origin story of yet another hero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe allows for more goodies and baddies of diverse personalities, motivations, and abilities to be introduced to the mix. And as the fourteenth entry into the franchise, you hope for something special.

Unfortunately, Doctor Strange is an assorted bag that does not get its balance right. A technical marvel (full credit to the incredible visual effects crew here) with strong performances across the board, the film suffers from an unconquerable obstacle: the titular protagonist is painfully dull. Strange has the smarts, ego, and good looks of the likes of, say, Tony Stark without the wit or charisma, giving the always reliable Benedict Cumberbatch very little to work with, though his scenes with Rachel McAdams give the character some depth. However, our protagonist is overshadowed by more interesting figures such as the exceptional Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One and Benedict Wong’s fun, coincidentally named Wong.

Jon Spaihts, C. Robert Cargill, and director Scott Derrickson’s script packs a lot of interesting mythology into a film that mercifully runs under two hours, but at this point feels unnecessary in the grand narrative. With some fresh visuals at play here, Doctor Strange will appeal to fans of the extensive franchise, and the character’s addition to it will perhaps prove beneficial, but the film is ultimately a noisy spectacle with little substance. 2½ / 5

 

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Chris Hemsworth, Linda Louise Duan, Mark Anthony Brighton, Topo Wresniwiro, Zara Phythian, Alaa Safi, Katrina Durden, Pat Kiernan, Stan Lee [cameo]..

Director: Scott Derrickson | Producer: Kevin Feige | Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill (based on Doctor Strange by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) | Music: Michael Giacchino | Cinematographer: Ben Davis | Editors: Wyatt Smith, Sabrina Plisco

 

Available: Blu-ray

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #17: Countdown to Infinity War—Doctor Strange ⬇️


FRED Watch Halloween 2019 Special: Psycho (1960)

SHOWERING PRAISE ON HITCHCOCK’S MASTERPIECE!

Shamley Productions / Paramount Pictures

On this Halloween special, Wayne introduces Phillip and special guest Kendall to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)!

The team delve into multiple aspects of the classic suspenseful horror, but will they go a little mad for this revered masterpiece?

 

Listen to their review here:

 

Check out the iconic trailer here:

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Pat Hitchcock, Vaughn Taylor, Lurene Tuttle, John Anderson, Mort Mills, Francis De Sales [uncredited], George Eldredge [uncredited], Ted Knight [uncredited], Virginia Gregg [uncredited voice], Paul Jasmin [uncredited voice], and Jeanette Nolan [uncredited voice].

Director/Producer: Alfred Hitchcock | Writer: Joseph Stefano (based on the novel by Robert Bloch) | Music: Bernard Herrmann | Cinematographer: John L. Russell | Editor: George Tomasini

Available: DVD and Blu-ray

Let us know what you thought of this special in the comments!

 

You’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

A HOTEL WITH BITE!

I’m a Fulya Kantarmaci and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is especially for Halloween—Hotel Transylvania

Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Releasing

All your traditional monsters under one scary roof and a human. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Vampires, wolves, mummies, ghouls, goblins, witches, and so many other monsters roaming the earth that have to hide in the shadows. But not anymore! Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) has built Hotel Transylvania for all of monster-kind, serving as a refuge for them so they can relax and be safe from the humans. This particular year, Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is turning 118 and to celebrate, Dracula is throwing her a big birthday party and all the hotel guests are invited. Even some of Dracula’s closest friends are attending! Frank (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) the werewolves and their cubs, Murray the mummy (CeeLo Green), and Griffin the invisible man (David Spade).

On this particular birthday, Mavis wants to go out and explore the world to see humans for herself. They can’t all be monster haters, right? To keep her happy, Dracula suspiciously allows Mavis to go out of the hotel and suggests that she go to a nearby human village. Mavis finds the village deserted at first but suddenly, a big group of “humans” come out of every corner holding flaming torches and pitchforks. Mavis is afraid for her life so she quickly abandons the village and hurries back to the hotel where she tells her father he is right, the humans DO hate monsters. Dracula is relieved and can now continue with his monsterly duties.

That same night, an uninvited guest arrives. His name is Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and he is a human! The moment he enters the doors of Hotel Transylvania, Dracula sees him and is in shock! He must do something to hide this human from the monsters’ sight immediately! Dracula quickly grabs him and takes him to a hidden room, dressing Jonathan up like a monster so he can at least blend in. What Dracula wasn’t counting on was Mavis meeting Jonathan and potentially falling in love with him. Operation “Remove Human from Hotel“ has begun.

 

There are so many animated Halloween films out there but none can compare to Hotel Transylvania. The animation itself is unique in its kind because the movements of each monster is exaggerated to the point that it’s almost believable. I am very impressed with the variety of monsters the character designers have included in this animation. Having the zombies as the bell-hops and front-of-house staff, and the witches as the room maids is hilarious! Also, the fact that there’s an invisible man as one of the supporting characters is a brilliant idea (especially since the animators don’t really have to worry about syncing his mouth to the voice).

Speaking of supporting characters, the whole gang of monsters are unsurprisingly voiced by actors who have all worked with Adam Sandler in past films (Grown Ups comes to my mind). They work together really well and their comedic timing is the best! Sandler makes Dracula believable. The stereotypical voice he puts on is very funny and he even sang in that voice with a ukulele (à la 50 First Dates). 

This movie is a lot of fun for the whole family and I’d definitely recommend it for the kids on Halloween. Also, if you’re looking for costume ideas, look no further because this film has a bucketful of inspiration!

And remember, Dracula doesn’t say “Blah, blah, blah.” 3½ / 5

 

Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green.

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky | Producer: Michelle Murdocca | Writers: Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel; Story: Todd Durham, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman | Music: Mark Mothersbaugh | Editor: Catherine Apple

 

Available: DVD.

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Fulya Kantarmaci and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

THE WAR TO END ALL WARS!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Captain America: Civil War

Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s decision to support government oversight and accountability.

But when Winter Solider Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces, Rogers and Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) become more divided than ever…

Much is expected when pitting an assortment of superheroes against one another, particularly when they belong to the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe. As this is the thirteenth entry in the intricate franchise, loyal fans and persistent audiences alike have invested in these characters, getting to know them, feeling for them, and cheering for them in battle. It’s the sort of relationship only the best example of writing and character development can sustain over eight years.

So then, the question remains if Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have provided a thoughtful and engaging enough screenplay to deliver anything more than a superficial battle royal? The answer is, quite frankly, a resounding yes.

Directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who cut their MCU teeth on Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Captain America: Civil War does what great comic book movies do best. There is the perfect balance of character-driven plot and action here, so the audience has its cake and eats it too. As has been the case with every single previous title in which Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton appear, Scarlet Johansson and Jeremy Renner deliver performances with electrifying chemistry; them going head to head is the fight we didn’t know we wanted. Unsurprisingly, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, and Paul Rudd are excellent, but this isn’t a film in which the performances or casting choices (new or returning) can be faulted. To say that the team hand in good work is an understatement.

However, the most spectacular casting is that of young Tom Holland as Peter Parker. For genre buffs who know Spider-Man’s origin, his introduction into the MCU is refreshingly efficient, but there is still enough to satisfy those who may not be familiar with the details of his backstory. His scenes with Downey’s Tony Stark are a particular highlight and there is no doubt that the fight scenes benefit from his inclusion.

And as well-tuned and meaningful as the interpersonal relationships are, it’s the action that sells movie tickets. What Captain America: Civil War does better than every one of its twelve predecessors is make the action scenes captivating and not drag on unnecessarily. Here, they don’t feel over stylised but rather grounded in reality. There are, naturally, extremities to the destruction on hand, but we accept them like never before. They are beautifully framed, expertly cut, and more often than not have a pleasant colour pallet.

While not all of the MCU films have hit the mark, Captain America: Civil War is an incredibly generous reward for fans’ investment in the franchise. It is a first-rate blockbuster and one of the best comic book movies in recent years full stop. 4½ / 5

 

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, John Slattery, Kerry Condon, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, Hope Davis, Gene Farber, Florence Kasumba, Alfre Woodard, Jim Rash, Stan Lee makes [cameo], Joe Russo [cameo], Damion Poitier.

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | Producer: Kevin Feige | Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (based on Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) | Music: Henry Jackman | Cinematographer: Trent Opaloch | Editors: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt

 

Available: Blu-ray

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #16: Countdown to Infinity War—Captain America: Civil War ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

DEAD WINNER!

I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is The Dead Don’t Die

Animal Kingdom / Film i Väst / Focus Features

A small town’s police force combat the sudden zombie invasion of their small, uneventful town…

This is a zombie film unlike any other you will ever watch, which makes sense when you learn it is a Jim Jarmusch film. The iconic auteur brings his trademark style, and a huge cast, to this 95-minute piece taking place at the end of the world. The Dead Don’t Die is set in the small Ohio town of Centreville, which is a living contradiction; nothing too exciting ever happens there, so it is not really the centre of anything. However it is this tiny township where the story unfolds, thereby making it the centre after all. This is just one of many of Jarmusch’s hilarious, if a little on the nose, winks at the camera that pop up over the course of the film.

Before the apocalypse kicks off, we are introduced to a wonderful cast of characters, almost all of which are portrayed by legendary actors. The film isn’t concerned with developing them too much, or giving them any kind of story arc, which isn’t really the point of this movie. If that’s what you’re looking for here, this may not be the film for you. Centreville’s local law enforcement comprises of Chief Cliff Robertson (a hilariously dead pan Bill Murray), Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver), and Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny). Some of the best moments of The Dead Don’t Die occur when these three are on screen. They have a great quirky chemistry with one another that makes one want a prequel film of just their day to day tasks.

Other notable residents of Centreville include farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi), blue collar worker Hank Thompson (Danny Glover), nerdy shop owner Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones), and mortician Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton). The film also features some music icons in Tom Waits who portrays Hermit Bob, the film’s narrator in parts; Iggy Pop as a zombie who just wants some coffee; Selena Gomez as a ‘hipster’ from Cleveland passing through town; and rapper RZA as a wise mailman. Tilda Swinton is the best thing about this movie, though. In a way that only she could, she embodies this eccentric Scottish samurai mortician wonderfully, making all her scenes a sheer delight to watch. She also gets the best action sequences when it comes to zombie kills. However, Swinton’s Zelda Winston is in an entirely different film compared to the rest of the cast. There is a moment in the third act involving her character that comes completely out of left field which will either confuse you more than you already are, or leave you laughing hysterically.

Despite the amount of gore in regards to the zombies killing off Centreville’s residents one by one, The Dead Don’t Die is much more a comedy film. The humour in the dialogue and the way it is acted out by the incredible cast really makes this film worth your time. The fourth wall breaks are fantastic and do well to emphasise just how ridiculous the entire movie is, especially the constant references to the film’s theme song performed by Sturgill Simpson. This may not be a film that mainstream audiences will fall in love with… and that’s totally okay. But for those who watch and enjoy it, you’ve found a real gem in this zombie flick. 4 / 5

 

Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Austin Butler, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Carol Kane, Selena Gomez, Tom Waits.

Director/Writer: Jim Jarmusch | Producers: Carter Logan, Joshua Astrachan | Music: SQÜRL | Cinematographer: Frederick Elmes | Editor: Affonso Gonçalves

 

In cinemas now.

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Kendall Richardson and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Ant-Man (2015)

RUDD SAVES THE DAY!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Ant-Man

Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Having been released from jail, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) tries to go straight so that he can afford alimony and see his young daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson). However, Lang gets desperate and agrees to rob physicist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who ultimately recruits the burglar and former systems engineer to defend his Ant-Man shrinking technology and plot a heist with worldwide ramifications…

The twelfth film in the extensive Marvel Cinematic Universe (and sixth origin story so far) benefits from the introduction of a lesser-known hero and benefits even more from the introduction of the incredible Paul Rudd. A dozen action-packed adventures in, there really isn’t any territory that hasn’t already been explored, so Rudd’s contribution to Ant-Man (both on screen and off) cannot be underplayed.

The story is simple enough to follow and engages with the broader Avengers story through Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, though you are not left feeling that you’re missing something if this happens to be your first exposure to the MCU; a difficult feat accomplished through a screenplay that has confidence in its protagonist.

It’s refreshing to see such a flawed and relatable hero as Scott Lang who, despite being incredibly intelligent and innovative, always seems to have been dealt a losing hand. Rudd’s playful personality is well-suited to the role of Lang, and even though they fall into the typical trope whereby people from minority communities are relegated to comic relief, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Michael Peña, and David Dastmalchian deliver beautifully supporting turns as his crew. Corey Stoll is fine as the antagonist, and Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are also quite good in undemanding roles. (Drinking game: Have a shot every time Douglas says the name “Scott.” Lazy writing in an otherwise solid screenplay.)

Although it takes a while to really build momentum, Ant-Man is not only a consistently engaging and entertaining superhero pic, it is also one of the stronger entries of its franchise. 4 / 5

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Anthony Mackie, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas, John Slattery, Hayley Atwell, Abby Ryder Fortson, Gregg Turkington, Martin Donovan, Anna Akana, Garrett Morris, Stan Lee [cameo], Chris Evans [uncredited], Sebastian Stan [uncredited], Hayley Lovitt [cameo].

Director: Peyton Reed | Producer: Kevin Feige | Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd; Story: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish (based on Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby) | Music: Christophe Beck | Cinematographer: Russell Carpenter | Editors: Dan Lebental, Colby Parker, Jr.

Available: Blu-ray and stan

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #15: Countdown to Infinity War—Ant-Man ⬇️


FRED Watch Episode 22: Bootmen (2000)

BOOTS AND ALL…

20th Century Fox Distribution / Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wayne introduces Phillip to Dein Perry’s Bootmen (2000).

The boys acknowledge that the film’s not without its flaws and discuss the representation of masculinities within the narrative, but will they strap on their boots for this forgotten Australian dance movie?

 

Listen to their review here:

 

Check out the trailer:

Starring: Adam Garcia, Sophie Lee, Sam Worthington, Richard Carter, Andrew Kaluski, Christopher Horsey, Lee McDonald, Matt Lee, William Zappa, Susie Porter, Anthony Hayes, Justine Clarke, Grant Walmsley, Andrew Doyle, Bruce Venables.

Director: Dein Perry | Producers: Hilary Linstead, Antonia Barnard | Writers: Steve Worland, Hilary Linstead, Dein Perry | Music: Cezary Skubiszewski | Cinematographer: Steve Mason | Editor: Jane Moran

 

Available: YouTube and GooglePlay.

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

You’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED PODCAST: FRED Watch Episode 4: Rocky (1976) ⬇️


Beta Test #22: Beholder 2

Beta Test

*Adjusts set top box* Ok, maybe over here? ‘These Lima beans are even better than the ones we had for breakfast and lunch! Ooh a Lima bean that looks just like the Leader, I’ll put it with the others!’, okay…or ‘I am covered in the dust of the Leader, he favours me!’, wait, how about  ‘Nananananananana LEADER’, DAMN IT!

Do you want to see the inner workings of my head? Do you want to see all that’s left after this month? Please, allow me to introduce you to the running gag reel of simpsons quotes I’ve been non stop pelting myself with!

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All hail the Leader, Citizens. I’m Bethany Griffiths, and This is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – H O V E R   B I K E Enthusiast – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review. 

Yes my lovelies, the winter’s gone, the snow’s depart, the dead sleep on, it’s me! (Not Bertolt Brecht. Please don’t @me with your high school theatre complaints. No one can save you from the trauma of your youth). Spring is here, and you know what that means! Out with the seasonal depression, in with the regular, rapidly rising, levels of anxiety! I feel rejuvenated, relaxed, ready to huff pollen, and snort baby birds. Got a squirrel? It’s now my minion. All praise to Persephone! I’m here, I’m queer, Spring is in the air!

…Maybe I need to lay off the Zertec.

OK, you’re probably thinking I’ve gone mad, and yes, The Funny Farm is on a loop on my Spotify right now, HOWEVER it’s a good thing I’m revved up because that’s the most exciting thing about this review. Yes, sorry for the whiplash but I’ve just played one of the hardest games I’ve had to stomach in a long time. Yes, not since the days of Batman – The Enemy Within have I been so thoroughly disappointed on a game. Maybe there’s a reason I associate the two together. Both are a joke.

Beholder 2, a Warm Lamp Games and Alawar Premium creation, Tells the story of Evan Redgrave – Son of a ministry worker, who takes over his father’s place at work after his untimely demise. Set once again under the Iron curtain, with very thinly veiled references to both North Korea and China, You have to navigate through tough monetary decisions, relentless coworkers, and gruelling tasks such as working an office job, and paying bills…and reading books…OK can I just actually not. Can I do anything but this please. 

Look, I don’t know how much you know about my actual real life money job (because honestly it’s really not the game’s fault I hate it) but most days I have to sit in the back room of a hospital for 8.5 hours, and answer over 120 phone calls a day about customer complaints, questions, queries, and bookings. To say I live this game is an understatement and I can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t sit at a desk for EIGHT POINT FIVE hours a day, answering phones, telling people that yes, they need a referral to see us, and no, we don’t give out our doctors’ personal home phone numbers, and sorry I know you have cancer but your GP didn’t fax through a referral, (a real, true scenario that I wish I could erase from my mind) then come home and play a game where I sit at a desk for 8 hours hearing people say stupid shit, and telling people that the best way to criminalise their wife/son/poet neighbour is to HaiL tHe LeADeR. I just can’t do it. Even with subplot. Even with all the intrigue. Not even the sudden shocking deaths can save this game for me. 

Beholder 2 had a lot to live up to. The original game is one of my all time favourites, and I was so excited to play the continuation. I was holding out till I got a good quiet month, so I could focus all my time into giving this game all the attention it deserved. ALAS, I was let down like a Simpson on a hover-bike. My dreams of a good gaming month ruined. I was angrily ‘MMMMMMM’ing all the way through my time in this never ending cycle of wake, work, repeat and no I’m not okay.

On the technical side, because at this point I really do just have to be objective, the specs are OK, as a sole PC user though, it was painfully obvious that this was made with the intention of being played primarily on the Switch. 

You walk in a beautifully rendered 3D rendered space, but only use the left and right buttons, with your mouse trailing behind you as you scan for anything remotely clickable. The lack of physical depth on the screen is jarring, especially coming from it’s 2D predecessor, which not only boasted the best of 2D character design, but enabled 3D world movement with mouse touches. The game is repetitive to a blunt point. Not only in the monotony of everyday life, but also in the map. It was genuinely exciting to see all the places I could be going, and I was so disappointed that all it was was a flat plane. What’s worse is the devs even knew this, because you get a map near the start of the game, and the character that gives it to you says that it will save time from running from one side to the other. 

The reason I’m so mad though, beyond the specs, the game play, my job, is that this game is visually stunning. I love the art style. I get to see everything I loved about the first game’s characters reflected back in amazing 3D. I want to play so much more of this game but I physically just can’t!

Because of the pitiful whining coming from my microphone, and the sobbing cry of loss from inside my head, I give this game:

4/5 Dead Colleagues for style.
2/5 Dead Colleagues for plot line.
0/5 Dead Colleagues for easiness.
0/5 Dead Colleagues for NO.

Jesus hell, I don’t even want to do an outro, that’s how upset I am. I can honestly say I’m so glad this month is over. It gave me nothing but avoidance and pain. Also, if you recall I did a review of the original, and in the outro I said ‘Good thing there’s a sequel, or I’d be suffering withdrawals!’. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW PAST BETHANY? WHERE? Well, shit, I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.

Until next time. 

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FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

AGE LEAVES AVENGERS A LITTLE SLUGGISH.

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers reunite to protect the world when Tony Stark’s Ultron Program, created to protect the world, becomes hostile…

With the previous Avengers blockbuster making a big splash, Joss Whedon faced the unenviable task of replicating what made Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t come close to its predecessor nor a significant number of other titles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that have come before it.

For a relatively simple premise, Whedon’s script is a little cluttered and will leave the casual viewer confused. This is one for the fans, and those truly invested will get the most out of it, but even they may lose their patience with the unnecessarily excessive gestation. (It would have benefited from losing twenty minutes from the runtime.) Even the final battle is longer than it needs to be.

There are, however, more positives than negatives to take from Avengers: Age of Ultron and this is thanks to our perfectly cast heroes. Well and truly comfortable without being complacent, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans are in solid form, with Evans once again a particular highlight. As in the previous Avengers movie, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner are the absolute heart of the narrative, and their scenes—individually as well as together—are the most interesting. It is wonderful to see Mark Ruffalo afforded more material to work with, and his chemistry and budding romance with Johansson’s Black Widow is quite lovely… until you remember that Hulk/Bruce Banner’s feelings belong to someone else. (See: 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.) Supporting players Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are welcomed additions to the franchise as Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, even if they aren’t given as much depth as they deserve.

Although falling below expectations, Avengers: Age of Ultron is good to look at, and is elevated by exceptional performances and some truly effective scenes. But a classic it isn’t. 3½ / 5

 

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Kretschmann, Henry Goodman, Linda Cardellini, Claudia Kim, Andy Serkis, Julie Delpy, Kerry Condon [voice], Josh Brolin [uncredited], Stan Lee [cameo].

Director/Writer: Joss Whedon (based on The Avengers by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) | Producer: Kevin Feige | Music: Brian Tyler, Danny Elfman | Cinematographer: Ben Davis | Editors: Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek

 

Available: Blu-ray and stan

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