Beta Test #23: The Sims 4

Beta Test

The year: 2007
The game: The Sims 2
My Brother: Not allowed to watch the giant Woo-Hoo display video concentrated around two sims (one of which is me, and the other my primary school crush that would eventually disappear into the realm of obscurity). I try to tell him to go away, that this is an adult thing and that he’s not allowed to watch. He is 9 years old and thinks he is also very grown up, also that I never let him do anything. My mother is unphased, but to me, a responsible 13 year old with an unhealthy fear of fucking up, letting my brother watch two sims give each other bedroom eyes is unfathomable. I am afraid. My brother is happy to spend time with me. The sims whisper to each other to initiate the coital action…

The cut scene doesn’t play because I forgot I disabled the feature.

header.jpg

Dag Dag Plumbobs! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – Tira Mirnah – 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. 

OH YEAH, the heavyweight of games. The legendary big boi. The only reason I own Origin. The ‘Katsu Tsu’ graveyard of Maxis dreams.No, don’t let my intro fool you, gone are the days of The Sims 2, now it’s all about The Sims 4! I have played this game so heavily over the years I have to tell you, It has become my life for months at a time. I have lost days of sleep due to collecting every single collectable, skill, and expansion pack available. I have gone long long hours of game play only for a Sim to die or the game to crash (early Sims 2) and realise I haven’t saved in the last Seven hours. My love for The Sims can not be eclipsed by anything this worldly on the video game market! (until they bring out a Tanz Der Vampire game, but I don’t see that happening this millennia soooo)

Developed by Maxis, and published by Electronic Arts [EA games ‘Challenge everything’ *fwish*], The Sims 4, most modern of sims franchise games, is a virtual world simulator where you control a fully customisable character(s). The characters are given personalities granted through three base traits that you can expand on by following lifetime achievements, and fulfilling goals. You create everything for them including housing which is also fully customisable, from the ground up. The base game comes with a very comfortable amount of material for you to shape and build your sims’ world around them, build their house, create connections, and family trees however expansion packs are available to provide new exciting experiences for your little mini me’s AND BITCH GUESS WHAT JUST CAME OUT! The Sims 4 is now a ~University Graduate~, and I am so pumped! (Footnote: this review is going to be about the sims 4: Discover University. Want me to review the base game? Drop me a line buckaroo)

Ok so first of all, no I didn’t pre-order, this is not Fallout 76, I will not tell a company that I’m happy with a bullshit product. I look for QUALITY in my Sims. And quality I got. So with that in mind, hold on to your seats because this bitch is back and Tina Turner is Quaking!

The Sims 4: Discover University is an expansion that I’ve frankly been waiting for ever since The Sims 2 stopped being a thing (get outta here with your Sims 3. It’s a completely different game and holds no bearing to the sims universe in my opinion. Also the game renders horribly. Get. Out). Yes, long have the days been since I could add spicy plot lines like ‘oh no I’m failing my degree’, and ‘oh no I didn’t get accepted into my course’, and the coveted ‘bitch watch me change my education degree into an arts degree and grow in HECCS debt’ (all real life Bethany created, Bethany lived scenarios). But now! Now I get to see the glory of education, I get to dive into the sea of fraternities, and dorky drama clubs that I may or may not have been president, vice president, and treasurer of in one single year.  I get cool new clothing options! Yeah baby mamma I’m there! 

The game itself runs beautifully. My computer fans might want to take off and fly about the room, but it’s smooth as a giant memory stored game can be. It seems as well that with every installation the detail gets better and better, for instance, the original hair textures were good, but there were better mods for The Sims 2 that I could have been using (anyone else use Modthesims.com or was it just me? Shout out to Bruno!) These ones though! There’s so much texture, such a variety, there’s so many more options for ethnically diverse sims! I can finally build a sim that has dreads that don’t look like Post Malone got high on meth and tried to style Ariana Grande’s hair. And Hijabs are a thing now! It’s so exciting to be given the gift of creation and I’m so happy that people that felt like they couldn’t truly create themselves or felt excluded in the game can now partake and feel like they can join in the community! (I realise that the game still has a lot it could do to adjust to people and cultures across the world, and while I wholeheartedly rejoice in the small victories that have been given, I do wish they came sooner. I am not blind to that fact. If you want to talk about ethnicity and diversity in the gaming sphere I would love to be an ear for you, and facilitate you. Please drop me a line, and we can get the convo started)

Coming back from that, I have noted some differences to the original 2 package. The most stark being you need to apply to a university, you can’t make sims to slot into Uni like The Sims 2. That was the first thing I tried, and I was ‘uuugh’ing at the effort it would take to put a sim in a house, apply, wait for the response, and move them in to the dorm rooms. (all in all 20 mins of game play). Once I got started though, it was fine, and I feel like the reward for taking care of your sims skills and needs is in the acceptance to the university itself. Springing off that, once you get in there is a finite amount of electives you can do per degree. Elective opportunities hinge of the amount of core subjects you take per term, and once you hit your max you can’t choose more. For example: I took 2 terms of 4 core subjects with 1 elective each, that’s a total of 12 credit points, the next semester I choose 3 core subjects. Because I have hit 15 credit points with my last 3, I can’t choose an elective even though I have room in my calendar. Not a problem for the average or casual gamer but I NOTICED AND WANTED MY SIMS TO TAKE MORE CLASSES DAMN IT. On the tone of classes, you can put out a student loan (which does nothing if not remind me of my $23,500 debt), instead of paying it straight up. Scholarships are available though, and are pretty easy to get into if you grind your sims the way I do. 

From a game play perspective, the only jabs I have are that you don’t actually see the graduation ceremony. I would love a wedding type scenario where your family comes and sees you cross the stage and throw a cap, but I digress it doesn’t detract from the game play at all. School terms also start differently for each sim, dependent on when they enrol, so say I had a set of siblings at the uni but one got in before the other, that sim will graduate first, which is a bit of a hassle if you want to develop them at the same rate. The good news is though, you don’t have to leave campus straight away if you live on an ‘on campus, self owned’ lot, so I could keep my siblings together till they both graduated which I thought was a much nicer feature than ‘your sim has graduated. They have 24 hours to pack up their shit and leave’ (paraphrased obviously). 

Also as a side note, there is no bar to tell you your grades (which for me, perfectionist supremo, was very hard to cope with), however, you can email your lecturer to ask how you’re going, which was a blessing because I HATE accidentally ruining my sims lives. All ruining must be intentional damn it! And I also figured out that once you go into a dorm room you can’t rearrange uni housing, that is, there is no build mode in the University established buildings. This isn’t tooooo bad because there’s a buy station like in the camping expansion that lets you grab furniture, rugs, books, kegs for keg stands, you know…the usual.

Wow this has been long, I didn’t expect this to go on but I had so much to say! All in all I have found this expansion and recent updates very enjoyable, and would absolutely recommend The Sims 4 to anyone seeking a classic casual game to fall into the llama hole of. 

Because of no other reason than it’s the bloody Sims bitch, I give this game:

4/5 PLUMBOB’S for style
0/5 PLUMBOB’S for plot line (it doesn’t need plot line. YOU are the plot line)
5/5 PLUMBOB’S for easiness
5/5 PLUMBOB’S for GOD TIER GAME STATUS

What now? Gonna Game? In the words of the popular YouTuber Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell, while shaving off his own eyebrows, “Why? Why not? Why anything?”. If that is the case then go ahead and jump on my bandwagon, fling yourself into the abyss of The Sims 4, you won’t regret it! (also if anyone has TomSka’s details please let a bitch know. I NEED that sweet sweet colab deal. We can shave my undercut into a penis, I don’t care) Anyway, I’m way too hyped on the idea of The Sims (I almost said ‘nerd juice’ there in that sentence and I retracted that real quick) to be doing outro’s, sOOOOooooOOOO…

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,

footer

FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

HOLLAND SWINGS INTO ACTION!

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

Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Pascal Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to stop Adrian ‘The Vulture’ Toomes (Michael Keaton) from selling weapons made with advanced Chitauri technology while trying to balance his life as an ordinary high school student.

Tom Holland swings into action as everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. As teased in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Holland’s take on the hero is a more youthful, energetic, and—considering the character’s age—believable one than previous incarnations.

But the strength of Spider-Man: Homecoming is rooted in its screenplay. With a staggering six writers attributed to it (and perhaps more uncredited), you would be forgiven for expecting the story to be a bit of a mess, as is usually the case. However, nothing could be further from the truth. What works best about the story is its simplicity. Also, Spider-Man is so engrained in popular culture, having been portrayed on television and in film since the 1970s by The Sound of Music’s Nicholas Hammond, the perfectly cast Tobey Maguire, and the grossly underrated Andrew Garfield. Therefore, the detailed origin of the character, encompassing a spider bite and the death of his uncle, is unnecessary.

In the spirit of The Incredible Hulk (2008), though lacking its punchy pacing, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun caper in which humour is used to great effect. Director Jon Watts knows he’s onto a winner with the casting of Jacob Batalon as Ned and Marisa Tomei’s final line is the icing on the cake. (Though it’s Chris Evans who proves to be the true scene-stealer.) The action sequences are handled meticulously and the film is quite exciting when things get going.

Although running too long and perhaps not the best Spider-Man story to hit the big screen, it is nonetheless an incredibly well-made comic book movie and breathes some fresh air into the character’s legacy as well as the extensive cinematic universe it is a part of. 4 / 5

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Kerry Condon, Chris Evans, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Garcelle Beauvais Jennifer Connelly [voice], Hemky Madera, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Chernus, Michael Mando, Christopher Berry, Kenneth Choi, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, Selenis Leyva, Tunde Adebimpe, John Penick, Isabella Amara, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., J. J. Totah, Abraham Attah, Tiffany Espensen, Angourie Rice, Michael Barbieri, Ethan Dizon, Martha Kelly, Kirk Thatcher [cameo], Stan Lee [cameo].

Director: Jon Watts | Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal | Writers: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers; Story: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley (based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) | Music: Michael Giacchino | Cinematographers: Salvatore Totino | Editors: Dan Lebental, Debbie Berman

 

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 #19: Countdown to Spider-Man: Homecoming ⬇️


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) ⬇️