Review: Persona 5 (You Never Saw It Coming)

My first Persona game was Persona 4 Golden on the Vita – a fantastic game. After that I dived into Persona 3 Portable and eventually the spin-off games Persona 4 Arena (and Ultimax) and Persona Q on 3DS. So it was no surprise that one of the game releases I was most looking forward to this year would be the next numbered game in the series: Persona 5 on the Playstation 4.

Like P4G before it, the focus is on the school life of a young man forced into a new environment, interspersed with some good old JRPG dungeon crawling. You meet a ragtag group of misfits and somehow band together to save all of Japanese society from itself. Or something to that extent. This is just an excuse to dump some screens of P5, so let’s get that out of the way.

That’s totally his canon name in the lore.
This game is educational, I didn’t actually know this before.
Your teammates have the utmost respect for you as team leader.
Some of them are… stranger than the others
When dungeon crawling, you can summon mighty persona in battle! They’re like Pokemon, only way more phallic.

The JRPG side streamlines a lot of the problems from P4G: the main story dungeons are hand-built JRPG style dungeons and there are save points in between to make dying not so much of a pain. Even on normal difficulty, I still managed to die a few times – notably to those Angel enemies that tend to suicide when low on life. And they brought back Persona negotiation! I didn’t appreciate this too much in Shin Megami Tensei IV as it felt a bit obtuse there, but here the Persona’s “personality” is shown which makes it easier to figure out the “correct” answers.

Since you’re supposed to be leading a team of thieves there’s also a bit of a “stealth system” while dungeon crawling. It’s not a very deep stealth system, basically just hide behind corners and ambush enemies to gain battle advantage. The only problem is that the camera and the controls don’t always agree with your stealth plans, and sometimes the wrong button press can lead you to disaster.

The Phantom Thieves story is okay, although most of the plot is telegraphed ahead of time. I kind of liked P4G’s big murder mystery where you had to figure out who among your confidants was a big ‘ol bad guy. Here in P5, it’s painfully obvious who sold you out, even if you hadn’t noticed his “mistake” early on. That being said, there is a surprise twist near the end that caught me by surprise.

Compared to P4G, Persona 5 comes out at the height of social media, so while I like the P4G’s battle theme a bit better, P5’s battle music has managed to become a meme of its own:

I must’ve seen this video at least 50 times now due to some of my friends (you know who you are).

One thing I dislike about the Persona series is that because of the time management aspect of the game, a lot of things are missable. Since I tend to play RPGs without any guides or walkthroughs the first time around, it’s problematic for me. This means that on my first run through I missed completing the Confidants/Social Links, even though when I started the run I told myself I’d prioritize them over other activities. Definitely need a second run for the platinum. (Of course, I have yet to platinum P4G either due to a mistake I made during the second run~)

In conclusion: Despite (or maybe because of?) it’s ridiculousness, Persona 5 is a great game. Story is tight, and the dungeon crawling has been streamlined a lot. That being said, it’s definitely not a game for everyone, mostly because of the style. If you dislike Japanese stuff or anime or anything turn-based, it’s definitely not for you. Go play Call of Duty or something. For everyone else, enjoy one of the year’s best JRPGs (sorry FF15!)

 

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

First, the spoiler-free summary (spoilers after this part):

  • overall a very entertaining movie to sit down and watch popcorn and to enjoy the jokes and the space battles and the different colored lights and the tiny adorable tree creature
  • GOTG’s humor was one of its strong points and for the 2nd movie, they push the comedy up a notch, perhaps a little too much in some places. Lots of funny gags and one-liners
  • I felt like some of the character/background development stuff was pushed a bit too hard as well
  • the movie’s plot also felt a bit thin and straightforward. I mean, you could see some of the major plot points coming a mile away. Maybe from the trailers even
  • Star Lord was ok. Gamora/Nebula felt poorly written. Rocket was a bit annoying. Drax and Mantis were ok, although the space they have for Mantis’ character overlaps with Drax a bit. I’m still not super happy with how Drax and Gamora are characterized in the MCU.
  • I’m less happy with this movie’s soundtrack compared to the first one
  • Magugustuhan ba ni Mama: Certainly not. In fact, she chose to derp around the mall instead of coming with me and my cousin to watch.
  • IMAX or not: Some visuals used the 3d effect, but nothing too exaggerated or critical. I’d say IMAX optional, but it definitely adds something to some scenes.
  • There are five extra scenes near the credits (one of them is right before the credits roll, so I can’t really say “post-credit” screens). Most of them are just setting the tone for the inevitable GOTG3
  • Additionally, just pay attention to the background of the credits roll as well, it’s great
  • While I felt the movie was ok, it’s kind of just more of the same of what we got with the first movie, which felt a lot stronger overall

Spoilers follow:

  • It would have been silly to expect Ego the Living Planet to have his Marvel comics appearance of a planet with a face, but guess what, we actually got it!
  • Stallone as Starhawk and Yondu being officially a member of the “original Guardians” team was great. Oh and apparently Michael Rosenbaum was Martinex!
  • The Stan Lee cameo here was really meant to push the “Stan Lee has been playing the same character in all his cameos” narrative
  • Giving Peter a Zune was a cruel joke on Microsoft’s expense, but sets us up for more music (maybe from later decades even!) for the 3rd movie
  • Lots of random other Marvel fan-service cameo appearances too: Watchers, Cosmo, Howard the Duck, and I’m sure I missed/forgot quite a lot more

 

Review: Final Fantasy XV

With The FFXIII trilogy not being particularly well-received and FFXIV being an MMO, Final Fantasy XV has been a long awaited as the next mainline single-player game in the much-acclaimed series. This review will have minor spoilers.

Story

FFXV follows the story of Noctis, prince of Lucis and his band of brothers (okay they’re not really brothers, but they might as well be). They’re supposed to be on a road trip to get Noctis married, but things happen along the way and eventually they have to figure out how to liberate their homeland from The Evil Empire. That’s the backstory.

The story as presented in the game has a few problems. There’s a lot of significant back story and goings-on that happen off-camera:

  • There’s both a feature-length movie (Kingsglaive) and a six-episode anime (Brotherhood) that expounds on the four main characters’ backgrounds and how the current political situation got to where it is
  • There’s supposedly a whole effort by minor characters like Cor to organize a resistance against the Empire, but we’re never really exposed to it
  • Then there’s Lunafreya, Noctis’ betrothed, who goes off and does her own stuff to try to undermine the Empire and supposedly help Noctis, but for most of the game it’s never really explained what exactly she’s doing or how it’s relevant
  • One of your friends, Gladio, goes off on a short sidequest of his own and vanishes for a while, and it’s never explained WTH that was about. Presumably it will be covered in a future DLC.

Another problem is that Noctis and the gang spend most of the game sort of lollygagging around enjoying their road trip without much sense of urgency. Understandably they wanted to present an open world this time (since much of the criticism of FFXIII was for its linearity), but the problem is that the open world is filled with a lot of frivolous things that don’t seem particularly urgent given the fate of the world being at stake. I mean, the party spends a lot of time camping out, cooking food, fishing, taking pictures, driving around looking for auto parts, and so on. The sense of urgency is not apparent.

I suppose the lack of urgency is an acceptable trade-off for the open world, but even for the supposed main story quests in the earlier chapters, it’s not immediately clear how they serve to help you overcome the Empire. I feel like there should have been more story quests related to helping establish a resistance and so on.

The later chapters narrow down the open world significantly, and the second half of the game takes place outside the main continent where there is significantly less freedom to explore. It feels a bit like they spent a lot of their design budget on the open world half and so just restricted the second half to the meaty story parts. Reminds me a bit of Xenogears disc 2!

One of the chapters near the end was also executed very poorly. To establish a sense of tension, most of the systems you had been relying on throughout the game are taken away from you. While this would have been okay for a short segment, the chapter goes on a bit too long and ends up being far too tedious.

I did find myself surprised by events leading up to the final chapter, although I felt like it was another wasted opportunity. The final chapter gives us a glimpse at a different version of the open world but never really let us see most of it.

The ending itself was bittersweet (and easily trolled haha), but I found it an acceptable ending.

Characters

While I found the main cast of Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto to have engaging personalities, they don’t really have much backstory in-game (most of the character backstories are in Brotherhood). In fact, later on, a startling revelation is made about one of them and none of them really bat an eye at all. It was in the sense of “hey, we don’t care about that, we’re your friends,” but it still felt like something that should have been explored further.

The interaction among the group is great though. They regularly banter and tease each other even during combat. It really felt like they were a group of long-time friends.

Combat 

I’m an old-school FF fan, so I’ll be the first to admit I miss ye olde active time battle. FFXV’s battles take place entirely in real-time, with the player controlling Noctis and the other characters controlled by AI. The AI control goes about as well as you could expect, they do fine against weak enemies but against tougher battles you find yourself constantly having to help them with potions or other items. You can command them to do special attacks when available, and they will participate in combo attacks when possible, but for the most part it’s just Noctis warping and striking.

Combat is fluid and there’s a lot of movement and jumping around and looking for opportunities to strike from behind. Early on you are discouraged from wandering around at night as the enemies might be too high level, but the combat system is set up such that most tough battles can be overcome simply by having enough recovery items around. I only got a game over once, early in the game when didn’t know what I was doing and I tried wandering at night and promptly got squashed by an iron giant.

The Open World

The open world gives the party a lot to do. There’s “hunts” dished out by people in diners (basically quests to go kill a specific bunch of monsters) and other side quests given out by various characters. There’s a fishing minigame, because apparently it’s a hobby of Noctis. The fishing minigame is okay, except I didn’t have the patience to try to get the most difficult fish.

Then there’s the photos and the food porn. A lot of pandering to the modern-day youths here, I’m surprised instagram hasn’t been invented in their world. Cooking is Ignis’ specialty, and the game renders each dish really well, sometimes enough to make you hungry.

And the photos are the specialty of Prompto. It’s one of those things that feels really frivolous in the game. Every time you camp you can browse pictures that Prompto has taken so you can save them for later viewing. A later patch provided a photo mode that you can control directly. There’s an entire reddit thread about how players have snapped more pics for this game than for their own vacations!

Anyway, I’m no exception. Exporting a lot of photos is a pain though, as there is no batch export option in-game. Here are a sampling of the photos I got (a bunch of them are from achievements):

View post on imgur.com

Achievements

Speaking of achievements, I was a touch disappointed with FFXV’s achievement set. I got the Platinum trophy, but I felt like it was a bit too easy, as there was still a lot of things to do in the game outside of the achievements. I don’t want annoying grindy achievements, but I don’t want them to be too easy and “no challenge” either.

Other stuff

They had this weird Chocobo carnival DLC that somehow takes place in another timeline or something LOL. IDK how it works.

Despite the fact that the more action-oriented combat system is indicative of where SE plans to take the series moving forward, there’s still a significant amount of nostalgia in the game for old-schoolers to appreciate. Callouts range from Prompto humming the classic victory fanfare after the battle to 2d sprites in the store menus jumping up in down to indicate which characters can equip each item. Classic FF beasties like the Malboro still make an appearance (and are still a pain to fight!)

The weirdest thing overall has to be the Cup Noodles thing! They had some sort of tie-up with Nissin and Cup Noodles is one of the meals your party can have in the game and Gladio is obsessed with them. Later on you even get a quest to try to find a way to improve on Cup Noodles and it ends with the characters saying there’s really no beating the original since it has a perfect mix of ingredients already. I feel like the VA’s really enjoyed doing those lines haha.

Overall

Okay, I had a bunch of complaints and nitpicks but to be honest, I enjoyed the game. There was a lot of gameplay, some seriously though battles and some annoying dungeons that took forever, but I finished most of it and got the platinum in under a month. Nowadays for an RPG that’s very quick for me, an indication of how much I liked the game. There’s a bunch more content planned for it, including DLC story packs for each of the other main characters, and high-end boss fights and what not. Not sure if I’d still play those since there’s a lot more RPGs on the horizon (2017 is a good year for RPG gamers.) But if Final Fantasy XV is the next step for the series moving forward, I find it acceptable.

Review: Duelyst

After Hearthstone, I tried out a couple of other digital CCGs: Spellweaver and Eternal, but neither one hooked me. The one I enjoyed the most and did pick up to play regularly was Duelyst. So this review is written from the perspective of someone who has played both Magic the Gathering (MTG) and Hearthstone (HS).

Hearthstone, Spellweaver and Eternal played like digital MTG with some advantages, as I outlined in the HS post linked above. Duelyst keeps many of the same elements and advantages, but adds an extra dimension. Besides being a card game, Duelyst is also a board game.

Board game

In a game of Duelyst your General (the analogue to Hearthstone’s hero) and his minions are played into a 9×5 board. Minions can only be summoned on empty spaces adjacent to one of your units. During your turn, each unit can either: attack an adjacent enemy; or move up to two spaces, then attack an adjacent enemy.

Having a board and unit movement greatly enhances the “positioning matters” mechanic as compared to Hearthstone. In HS, it only mattered whether minions were adjacent, to the left or to the right. In Duelyst, you can position minions to prevent enemies from reaching your General, or to restrict enemies from moving completely.

That means a number of spells and abilities care about positioning too. Each of the available Generals has a Bloodborn spell (BBS), the equivalent of Hearthstone’s Hero Power. One of the Generals has a BBS which allows her to deal damage to all enemy units in the same column as the opposing General. This means you have to be careful where you place your minions whenever her BBS is active! There are spells that affect a small area (2×2 or 3×3 and so on). There are spells that care about adjacency (“Destroy target minion that is not nearby any general”). And so on.

Factions and Generals

Hearthstone has different heroes, and each hero has a different card pool available. By contrast, Duelyst has factions and Generals. Each faction has its own card pool, and of course there is a global or “neutral” card pool as well. Each faction also has two Generals, each of which has a different BBS. The factions and Generals encourage a lot of different playstyles.

Some factions like the Songhai are more focused on spell-based damage and backstabs. The Lyonar focus on cheap, efficient creatures. Vetruvian has obelisks that can generate temporary minions. Abyssian focuses on swarm tactics and shadow creep. The Vanar rely on placement and trickery. My favorite General, the Magmar Vaath, likes to go toe-to-toe with the enemy General and punch him in the face!

Keywords

As expected, many of Duelyst keywords care about positioning, and thus have no meaningful equivalent in either MTG or HS. Namely:

  • Airdrop – minions with Airdrop can be summoned anywhere on the board
  • Backstab – this unit deals extra damage when attacking from behind (yes, even facing matters!) and doesn’t receive a counterattack
  • Blast – attack hits all enemies in the same row or column
  • Flying – may move anywhere on the battlefield
  • Frenzy – normal attacks hit ALL adjacent enemies
  • Infiltrate – gains bonus effect if its on the enemy’s starting side of the board
  • Provoke – somewhat like HS’s Taunt. Adjacent enemies cannot move and must attack a Provoke unit if there is one nearby
  • Ranged – can attack from anywhere on the board
  • Shadow Creep – this is a modifier that can be added to board tiles. An enemy standing on Shadow Creep takes 1 damage at the end of the Shadow Creep owner’s turn
  • Zeal – gains bonus effect as long as it’s next to the General

Duelyst also has a number of keywords that are analogous to abilities in MTG and HS. Rush is the same as MTG’s Haste and HS’s ChargeOpening Gambit and Dying Wish are the same as HS’s Battlecry and Deathrattle. (I worry that at some point new cardgames will run out of names for “enters the field” and “leaves the field”.) And so on – no need to cover everything here.

Skill Level, Competitive Play and F2P

The added dimension of positioning means that Duelyst is strictly more skill-based than HS. This is obvious if you note that there are a lot more choices for where to place minions. Hearthstone is also more reliant on RNG than Duelyst is, although I can’t say that will hold for the future. I enjoy some level of RNG as it creates variance, but the randomness means a higher chance of losing due to bad luck.

I find competitive play on the ranked ladders for both Duelyst and Hearthstone to be about the same. I’m not saying either meta is healthy, but as I see it there are more viable decks in Duelyst ladder as compared to HS.

Since I’ve already spent a bunch of money in MTG, I don’t like spending money on digital card games. So for both HS and Duelyst, I am strictly free-to-play (F2P). Both games offer similar monetization models (pay money for booster packs/cosmetics) but I was able to get further up the ladder in competitive Duelyst.

In my first full month (December), I was already able to get to Duelyst’s Gold Division. This should be similar to around rank 10 in HS. After a lot (and I mean a lot) of grinding from Diamond rank, I managed to hit the S-Rank Division last month. This is the equivalent of HS’s Legend rank. The highest rank I ever got in HS was around rank 6 or 7.

If I think Duelyst is more skill-based than HS, why did I find it easier to get to S-Rank than HS’s Legend rank? Two reasons come to mind:

  1. I found Duelyst games more fun. This means I was playing Duelyst on a daily basis since it started. At the start, I played regularly because I wanted to get Steam Achievement completion. But I found myself enjoying the game and continuing to play even after that. There are also a lot more variance in decks being played on the Duelyst ladder. By comparison, HS ladder seemed to be almost 50% the one best deck (used to be Midrange Shaman, nowadays Pirate Aggro…) while the other 50% are trying to beat it.
  2. It was easier to get the powerful cards and build the tier one decks in Duelyst. The pricing of packs is about the same (100 gold), but on average I could earn around 100-150 gold per day from Duelyst’s quests, compared to 40-60 for HS. The drop rates for Legendaries (highest rarity in both games) is higher in Duelyst as well. Unlike HS, Legendaries in Duelyst are not restricted to one per deck, you can play as many as three. This meant you need more of them, which annoyed me at first. But I think that’s counterbalanced by the higher drop rate. For comparison, I’ve been playing HS for more than a year and have only gotten two premium (golden) Legendaries. Three months into Duelyst and I’ve opened the same amount of premium (prismatic) Legendaries. (Well, this comparison may be skewed since I open more Duelyst packs due to the increased gold rate.) Another factor was the Bloodborn expansion, which you could complete by playing enough to grind 3900 gold. That expansion came out in December, and I completed the set early in January. This set gave me access to many useful cards that were important in the meta. This allowed me to build a tier one deck and reach S-Rank in January. Even after that deck was nerfed, I was also easily able to shift to another tier one deck from another faction. In HS, I still haven’t found a new competitive deck after Midrange Shaman.

The Future

At first I told myself I would stop playing Duelyst after I completed the Steam Achievements. Then I said I would stop playing after I got to S-Rank. But I’m still playing it now. By comparison, I now launch HS once or twice a week, and I don’t clear the quests.

Duelyst is still a young game – the second expansion just came out last December. So in the future it may yet be plagued with the problems Hearthstone currently has. The developers have shown themselves to be responsive in nerfing problematic cards and shaking up the meta though. Whether they are able to keep this up remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’m willing to keep playing as long as the game is still enjoyable.

 

Review: Xenoblade Chronicles X

Just in time for the end of the year, I finally finished Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I started playing around the first week of August (5 months!), with 120+ hours of game time. The game doesn’t have the best graphics (WiiU, etc), but I really like how it looks and how the world is built and all the different environments and the weird and sometimes absurdly large beasts.

There’s a whole lot of stuff to do in-game. It plays mostly like a single-player MMO, with party members that act on their own and most skills on a cooldown. There’s a ridiculous number of quests and items to grind for, I’m even tempted to still continue with the post-game content (if only I didn’t have FFXV waiting for me!), as I’m only at around 70% completion.

The story was okay, at many points well-told and hitting a lot of emotional highs (although some of the characters felt a bit over-acted). The ending was… well, kind of sequel-baiting. A mixture of disappointment and confusion and hope haha. I don’t imagine that they’ll have a sequel set in the same universe/timeline, so it felt a bit like they made up a ridiculous explanation that would attempt to explain some of the nonsense that happens in the game.

Here’s an imgur album with some stuff I screen-grabbed along the way:

Review: Stranger Things

So, Stranger Things

It’s true, it’s great. I thought it might be overhyped, but it’s not. And I can see why people find it hard to explain without spoiling things.

It’s about strange things happening in a small town. Creepy things. It’s a mystery. It’s suspense. It’s not a jump-scare sort of thing if you’re not into that. Well, there’s maybe a little bit of jump scares. The best description I’d say it’s about as scary as an X-Files or Doctor Who episode. So if that’s not too scary for you, you’ll be fine

It’s about a child who goes missing in a small town (not a spoiler) and the succeeding events. It’s about the mother searching for her son. It’s about a group of kids trying to solve a mystery. It’s about a small-town police chief in over his head. It’s about the 80s. It’s about kids in the 80s, music in the 80s, school in the 80s, small American towns in the 80s. It’s about outcasts and bullies and first times and trying to fit in and how they all deal with these stranger things

It’s like Stephen King wrote an episode of X-Files and it was directed by Stephen Spielberg starring the cast of Stand By Me. The acting is great too, especially the kids

Maybe minor spoilers follow

It’s kind of told in that weird True Detective way, with perspectives jumping around a lot among the ensemble cast. Past and present scenes are interspersed with only context to rely on

It keeps you hooked. I wanted to watch only a couple of episodes at first but ended up awake past three AM at episode six. I finished it the net morning

I love how the mystery unfolds to different parties and separately they uncover parts of it and they all come together in the end to force a resolution. I love how the characters overcome their horror-movie tropes. I love all the 80s references and the geeky references

I was satisfied with how it ended and all came together. I’m not sure what to expect for a second season though

X-Men, Green Lantern and a little bit of Batman

So Metro Manila is at the peril of heavy rains, flooding and traffic again (as often happens this time of the year) and I thought I’d do some actual blogging for a change.

I didn’t want to brave the rush hour traffic last night so I finally got around to watching X-Men First Class (luckily it was still showing at Mega). I had actually seen Green Lantern first despite X1C showing two weeks before the DC movie. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan with all these comic book movies coming out; I saw Thor a couple of months ago and of course we still have Captain America to look forward to next year.

At some level though I’ve started thinking that being a big comic book fan is actually a bit of a handicap when watching these big Hollywood adaptations of our favorite spandex-clad heroes, if only because we cringe twice at much at every small fault or piece of bad writing that we find in these movies.

I may have subconsciously delayed watching X1C because one of my brothers had watched it while I was in Singapore and didn’t really give the gushing review “regular” people had given. And GL wasn’t getting such rave reviews on opening weekend either and there were rumors that even the studio was not confident in the movie. So I came into both movies with a bit of lowered expectations.

My quick reviews of the two movies first then: X1C was fun and it was nice seeing an entirely new crew of mutants (more or less). I can forgive the ridiculous recruitment and training montages (and lol’ed at the cameo). It looks they didn’t bother keeping in continuity with the first trilogy and Wolverine: Origins, which is fine since Wolverine: Origins was ridiculous anyway. The ending felt a bit contrived in the same way that the ending of Smallville and Wolverine: Origins did – mainly because they need to wrap up things to sync with whatever “continuity” they’re supposed to have. The movie feels a bit campy at times and it’s far from the “Dark Knight of X-Men” that some reviews made it out to be, but still a good watch.

Green Lantern was fun as well, though the writing left a bit to be desired for me. At some points the abrupt transitions and especially the poor portrayal of Carol Ferris reminded me of Smallville-quality writing at some point. It’s still a good movie to watch and the scale is definitely more epic than X1C, but it kind of left me hanging the same way Thor did: it’s like there wasn’t much that happened in the movie aside from the telling of the origin story.

Maybe I was just spoiled by Nolan, but Batman Begins set a new height for me in terms of superhero origin movies, and the latest set have yet to reach that bar.

Speaking of Batman I’ve also just finished watching the DC straight to video animated feature “Under the Red Hood” which covers the death and resurrection of Jason Todd (duh, spoilers) and to be honest I found the climactic scene more well-written than the above two movies. But then again Under the Red Hood follows the comic book story arc more closely so I guess it’s closer to the type of stories I enjoy on a regular basis. In fact I find that the DC animated film line to be pretty good; not something I’d watch in a cinema or anything but enjoyable enough.

This is just really more or less random ramblings about comic books and comic book movies so here’s something else I thought of while watching X1C: the problem with the character of Magneto or in general any character whose origin story or background is tied to a real-life historical event the same way Magneto’s is tied to the holocaust. See the problem is that comic book characters live in some sort of time-distorting reality bubble where they don’t grow old as fast as the readers do. Characters like Magneto however, have no choice but to grow old at the regular rate, since we cannot move the historical dates upon which their characters are based. In twenty to thirty years, Magneto will be a hundred years old regardless of what happens in X-Men continuity. How will they make X-Men movies then, will they have a hundred year-old Ian McKellen take the role? With the character of Magneto anchored in time, the fictional world of the X-Men remains tied to a particular era. They’ll probably come up with some handwaved solution about how his powers include not aging; or maybe they’ll take a bold leap and actually kill him off permanently (hey, they haven’t brought back Jean Grey for a while right?)

On a side note, the first character that I ever noticed had this problem was Bab from Pugad Baboy.

Anyway maybe that’s enough rambling for now. Looking forward to Captain America, Transformers 3, etc, etc. Despite my not being 100% satisfied with the current wave of superhero movies, it’s still a good time to be a comic book fan. 😀

 

Watchmen

I had actually read the much-acclaimed graphic novel only last year. And while I found the story decent enough, I wasn’t sure whether to like it or hate it. Undoubtedly it was an important point in the history of “superhero” comics, but I was never entirely sure about it’s point.

So of course I saw the movie, and it had remained roughly 85-90% loyal to the source material, which made it a bit boring for me since I generally knew what was going to happen most of the time (except for you know, that thing about the bad guy’s master plan…). Not only does the story remain true to the comic-book style, but the backgrounds and choice of music seemed oddly appropriate for all the flashbacks going on to explain the Watchmen and Minutemen backstories. And the movie leaves me feeling the same way the comic did…ambivalent as it were, and unsure of what deep, thought-provoking message about human existence the Watchmen story was really trying to convey.

Still, if you’re any sort of comic book fan, you should watch it even if you hadn’t read the source material. The only real problem with the movie is that Dr. Manhattan seriously needs to wear more pants.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

I had time to kill before going to see my brother’s art exhibit at megamall, so I went and watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

It was so bad. I could’ve been able to forgive the fact that they roughly 80% of the story shied away from Street Fighter canon, had the movie’s storyline actually been good. As it is, you can expect short, unsatisfying fight scenes, ridiculous background stories, disjointed plot/scenes (reminds me of Smallville and/or Heroes writing =/), terrible wigs and the ridiculous sight of Michael Clark Duncan getting beaned by a pineapple.

I’m not sure if it was a problem with the theater’s copy, but there were no subtitles for the Chinese/Thai dialogues, which made up a nontrivial portion of the movie. Also, did they really, absolutely need to have the Kikoushou? The internal world of the movie would have been so much more consistent if Chun-Li did not magically learn the ability to create a fireball from nothing. And it’s totally unexplained as well!

Nash and Maya were pretty much useless. Gen, supposedly a really old guy who’s a rival for Akuma, was played by the same guy who played Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat, except he was wearing a really bad wig and apparently could not die. Michael Clark Duncan is wasted in his role as Balrog, who is not even hinted to be a boxer at all…in fact he went so far as to use a bow and arrow in this movie. (Oh, and getting beaned by a pineapple)

@altealice asks: are there enough lolz to make watching it worthwhile?

It depends on how mababaw you are at the time I guess. The plain ridiculousness of the storyline makes you want to facepalm. Things seem to happen at random and with no explanation (It’s never explained why the hell Bison took Chun-li’s father.) I wouldn’t recommend watching it in the moviehouse, but maybe pickup a pirated DVD :p

At least, it’s still better than the Van Damme movie.

Eagle Eye

On a whim, my brother and I went to Trinoma to see Eagle Eye, barely catching the last full show (including the trailers of course, we love watching trailers). Our mom had said we’d like the movie and she still owed us one since it was her fault we watched Big Stan. So we’re giving her a chance to redeem herself.

The spoilerless review:

Since Eagle Eye trailers seem to be everywhere, you probably have some idea of at least the start of the story. Jerry Shaw is an ordinary loser working at Copy Cabana when he comes into seven hundred fifty thousand dollars and a whole lot of terrorist hardware in his apartment, facilitated by a mysterious woman who contacts him via his cellphone. The FBI bust his apartment and suddenly he’s a fugitive on the run for reasons unknown to him.

For me, the gauge of how good an action movie is how difficult it is for me to see how it ends. For Eagle Eye, it started out a bit slow, then became action-packed without explanation then got to the middle where the plot was developed, and by that point I thought I had a pretty good handle of where it was going. Except I was wrong. And towards the end of the movie there were a few moments of “Oh, so that’s what it was for!” which was a pretty good indication. There was a bit of a cop out at the ending, but I guess that they want this to be a “feel-good” action movie so whatever.

If you’re not yet tired of Shia Lebouf and his half-dorky antics, the movie’s not a bad way to waste a couple of hours.

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