Friday, September 22, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Sequel

Kingsman: The Secret Service went from being an unknown film to a global phenomenon after its release back in 2014. The film would be a big break for star Taron Egerton who plays the main character of the film, Eggsy, and the femme fatale, Sofia Boutella. The overall success of the film came from the fantastic story-telling and star power of actors such as Samuel Jackson, Michael Caine and Colin Firth. The film almost resembled the very elements that made the old Bond films such a success in its day. Spies that must save the world by using out of this world gadgets to survive unique death traps and get the girl in the end.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle delivers the same punch that made the first film a success, but with a special twist. This film takes off sometime after the events of the last film; the Kingsman have regrown after the events of Valentine and the loss of certain Kingsman. Eggsy has moved up and become one of the best agents in the service, but his personal life is beginning to suffer. It only gets worse when an attack cripples the Kingsman and events lead them to find allies from across the seas. It’s an action-packed story full of new gadgets and action sequences that make this two and a half hour film feel shorter.

The story is nothing new; there’s an outlandish plot that threatens the lives of millions and Eggsy is now on a mission to save them all and get the girl. Taron Egerton performed as well as expected by being both comedian and action star. Colin Firth makes a surprising return as Eggsy’s father figure and mentor, Harry. Colin comes off almost like an English Nick Fury, but without the loud voice and the harsh leadership. The best addition to the Kingsman franchise is the main antagonist, played by Hollywood icon, Julianne Moore.

While it first comes off as corny, she immediately turns into the pharmacist from hell with a sadistic plot and disturbing sense of nostalgia. There are other additions such as Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum; their parts were short, but sweet. Halle Berry makes a surprise entrance in the film as her organization’s lead analyst and technical support. There’s other surprises in store for the audience and we’ll leave it at that. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the perfect fall movie that’s guaranteed to end the month with a profitable outcome.

This film gets a nine out of 10, because this film gives fans of the original everything they loved about the first one. Julianne Moore was a fantastic villain and the action is a fast-paced thriller that makes the film feel shorter. However, I don’t think there needed to be so many high-priced actors in roles that could’ve been done by others, but it could be used to make a spinoff or use for another sequel. Plus, there were some moments in the film that felt dragged out and could’ve been cut from the final print. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a spectacular film that lives up to what fans love about the first film and I can’t wait until the next film. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Destiny Reclaimed!

Bungie has come a long way since breaking away from Microsoft and their groundbreaking series, Halo. When they developed their new game Destiny back in 2014, it was clear that Bungie hadn’t lost its touch when it comes to creating a unique first person shooter experience. Destiny 2 delivers that same experience that will bring veterans deeper into the universe they’ve been accustomed with for three years. For people who are new to the Destiny universe, you may need to be brought up to speed, but that’s a minimal concern. This anticipated game delivers all the goods and goes beyond with new additions that better the gameplay.

For those who haven’t touched Destiny, here’s the quick rundown to help you understand this critique. Destiny revolves around a single guardian that can be one of three classes: Titan, Warlock and a Hunter. You can choose from various races and have options to choose other skin tones, facial scars, etc. Once you’ve selected, you’re brought to life by a machine called a Ghost that has the ability to resurrect you. This is because in the long future, mankind is brought to the brink of extinction until the arrival of an entity called The Traveler.

The Traveler brings it’s “Light” that brings forth a golden age until the light brings the attention of several threats. Three individuals known as the Vanguard, assemble a legion of protectors known as guardians to combat these threats.  I’ll end it there, so if you want to know more, then buy Destiny and it’ll only be a couple of bucks right now. This game takes off some time after the events of the expansion Age of Triumph and a new threat has brought the fight to the Vanguard’s front door. Ghaul, the leader of the Cabal empire which was introduced in the first game and has a deep understanding of the traveler.

The attack leaves the guardians without the ability to resurrect and it quickly cripples the Vanguard. This begins a new journey for your guardian to reclaim the light and retake the city that’s occupied by the Cabal. You’re taken to various worlds where you will reunite with old enemies that you may or may not like. The story is my favorite by far, next to The Taken King because it shows the guardians in a state never seen before. The ending of the game promises to close the door on some chapters and open a new one after the credits; that is something you don’t want to miss.

The game pays incredible attention to detail when it comes to the various planets and the villains you face both new and old. Water on one world looks more realistic, enemies have actual shields around them instead of just a glowing background, and the new powers are attractive. For veteran players who may not know, you have to beat the game in order to do the strikes, nightfall and crucible. My favorite feature about Destiny 2 is you don’t have to go to the tower every day to get new bounties because they’re posted automatically when you go to different worlds. I don’t have a high enough light level to play the nightfall which is 240, so I can’t comment on that.

Old enemies are given a makeover to look more realistic, especially if you have a Playstation Pro or Xbox One S and a 4k television. Engrams are easier to gain; Engrams are items that drop randomly from accomplishing missions and killing enemies. There’s different levels depending on the engram. It’s also a lot easier to go places both on a planet or switching to a new planet with the directory option. Bungie learned a lot from the flaws of the last game and has found a lot of ways to cut time, so gamers can keep playing. I can honestly say there’s nothing bad I found with the sequel to Bungie’s masterpiece.

I give this game a 9.5 out of 10 because of the lack of backstory for new gamers. Personally, this game is perfect in my opinion if you’re a fan of Destiny or first person shooters. The graphics are top notch, the gameplaying is faster, the missions are fun, the story is fantastic, and there’s much to look forward to in the future with D.L.C. expansions. If you’re a veteran, then you won’t be disappointed with the next chapter in Bungie’s Destiny Universe. If you’re a newbie, then buy this game and enjoy the experience that only Bungie can provide.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

IT Floats!

This is coming from someone who is tired and frustrated from all the remakes and reboots. IT is by far the best remake of a horror movie since Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in 2003. This film succeeds in many areas that make it surpass the original that came out back in 1990 with acting icon, Tim Curry. IT is arguably one of Stephen King’s most famous novels and Tim Curry brought the infamous clown, Pennywise, to life with his performance. Some fans of the original became skeptical when Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Groove) was selected to fill the freaky clown shoes.

IT is a novel about a group of individuals that are being haunted by a mysterious clown that terrifies their town and they must confront it. This film focuses on one part and that’s when the individuals were children in their “Losers Club.” As more and more children disappear, they set out to find out who it is and why it is specifically targeting them in their small town. They soon find that they must conquer their own fears before they can confront the demonic clown that is hell bent on making them the next meal. It’s a two hour and 15-minute film full of suspense that gives fans of the original their money’s worth.

The film also gains more momentum by using CGI to show more of the monster that Pennywise was, and giving more to his illusions to frighten the children. Pennywise outfit didn’t get me too excited, but it works well with this film. The illusions that the children suffered were more eerie and shocking than in the original. The main characters have good chemistry together, but the acting was lacking in one of the children for some scenes. I couldn’t say that I was scared because of the original and the novel, but the music and certain scenes gave me plenty to jump about and people were jumping in the theater.

IT isn’t like most horror films that rely solely on the blood, guts and gore. The use of silence, shock and suspense is key to this film’s success and the director did a good job fitting the music to the motion. The film touches on several issues that face children today like: bullying, isolation and child abuse. The film is left wide open at the end with the expectation that there will be a sequel and I anticipate there will be. This was a packed show and more than half of the audience were clapping when the title showed up at the end.

IT doesn’t fall prey to the disaster that was The Dark Tower, this film gives fans what they truly expect to see from something by Stephen King. This is a darker take of the famous novel that will take longer to tell, and we will see that in another film after the success of this one. I’m not expecting a major box office smash, but this film will do well for a few weeks. Congratulations to Bill Skarsgard for doing a good job with Pennywise and I’m sure Tim Curry would approve. IT gets a nine out of ten because I’m still not crazy about Pennywise’s look and the acting in some scenes, but this movie is well worth the price of admission. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why Does a Rose Represent Love?


"A rose is supposed to be the representation of love. If that's true then why does a rose have thorns that cut you and why does it have to die." Amber, a friend of mine once asked me that a long time ago and it took me a long time to finally answer this question. It takes a long time because love is a very powerful marvel. I believe a simply "I love you" answers a lot of complicated questions. When there is a great truth to be discovered, then you must first experience this before you can see the truth. Here is why a rose represents love, but also has thorns and must die.

A rose represents love, but has thorns because like being in love, it must be handled carefully. You need to treat it with respect and be careful not to mishandle it. You can't be careless handling the one you hold just because there may be roses with less thorns. If you do then eventually, you will be cut and when that happens, you’re scarred for life. You will have a scar that will take a lifetime to heal and never go away, that cut will always remind you of your loss. That is why the rose has its thorns.

Now why does a rose die? That's the hardest part of the question, but I remembered everyone I ever loved and it came to me. A rose must die because love must be cherished. If love was eternal and always around then the inevitable outcome is that it would be taken for granted. Love should never be taken for granted. Like with people, roses must be loved while we have them because everything that is born must die, so we must appreciate the time we have with them. A rose is the perfect representation of love and these are my reasons why I believe so.

This is an excerpt from my novel, Faces of the Masses. Available now on Amazon.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Defenders

The Defenders has been anticipated ever since the success of Daredevil that premiered back in 2015. With the continued success of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, it seemed that Iron Fist was going to foreshadow an epic saga. The tale of Danny Rand would turn out to be a stone around the neck of the fearsome foursome as Iron Fist was littered with flaws. Those flaws would carry over to the eight-episode season, but it wouldn’t damage the series too much. The Defenders first season was worthy of the hype, but it could’ve been better than what it was.
The show kicks off some time after the events of all four character seasons and some fans will be surprised by how some of the characters have moved on (spoiler alert). Matt Murdock has moved on without Foggy and has retired from being a vigilante to resume work as an attorney. Jessica Jones is still an angry, drunk private investigator who is trying to move on after killing her mind controlling stalker, Kilgrave. Luke Cage is freed thanks to certain help and finally gets the coffee that he’s been wanting for a while. Danny Rand, however, is continuing his fight against the hand and that’s what’s lead him back to New York.
 Each character has a sub story that would eventually lead them together and force them to work together to bring down The Hand, an organization that’s been a problem from the start. Things don’t go smoothly for several factors both externally and internally with the four heroes thanks to the leader of the Hand, Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver). It’s a roller coaster ride that takes off after the third episode with great choreographed fights and a story that delivers plenty of twists and turns. The few problems that I have are mostly with the characters Matt Murdock and Danny Rand.
As mentioned, Matt Murdock has retired from being a vigilante but there wasn’t any real explanation given for leaving the mask locked up. It takes forever for him to finally put the suit back on and when he does, that’s when things picked up. To be honest, the first three episodes are boring, but that’s mostly because the story is setting up. Danny Rand’s dialogue was repetitive to the point it makes you want to fast forward his parts. Most of the time, he’s reminding everyone who he is, what his mission is and why he must complete his mission.
Most of the series focused on Iron Fist and it might be the last we see of this character in Netflix’s plans for the Marvel characters. The ending of this series closes a lot of doors related to his story the most, so it might be implied that Marvel and Netflix are moving on from this character because of the lousy reviews from fans and critics. Time will tell if Iron Fist survives, but right now Marvel and Netflix will be releasing The Punisher later this year. Fans of the famous anti-hero are chomping at the bits to see Jon Bernthal reprise the role. Jessica Jones will return for her own season, Luke Cage is starting production and Daredevil will begin filming soon.

The Defenders gets a 7.5 out of 10, it was a great show, but it could’ve been better by having more episodes. The fact that it’s only eight episodes and not 10 or 12 is a bummer, but the series is still worth watching; even if it starts off slow. The chemistry is spot on with the main characters, Sigourney Weaver plays a great antagonist, and the series brings closure to everyone. This will allow for a fresh start to everyone’s solo season and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Daredevil in particular after the end of this series. If you want to know what I’m talking about, then start binge watching. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Excerpt from New Age Rebels

The future is chaos; America is divided by a corporate president, the government is broken by corrupt politicians, and a new rebellion is born. Corporations rule the country and a fragile peace is close to breaking down. Here's an excerpt from New Age Rebels, available on Amazon in the first link. If you like the novel, then please follow the link and like on Facebook. Thank you and until the next is written.

The Only Friend I Trust
At Thomas Air Force Base located outside of San Antonito is Senior Airman Zachery Irons in a hanger. Checking the oil pressure of the left engine of his plane and listening to the radio. He’s a young man in his late twenties and joined the air force because of his passion for flying. He’s not as passionate about the military as his older brother, and that’s why he never took a higher rank. Zack was always more passive and a playboy. If anything, he thinks all this drama between the Union and the Restricted Zones is irrelevant.
Zack always believed that dividing the United States was no different than starting a civil war, the only difference it’s more of a cold civil war which is slightly better because Zack values the lives of all Americans.
He looks over to the hanger door and sees other pilots walking out after checking their planes, expecting to go out after a night of flying around Texas. Zack was always the last one to leave because workman’s tools such as hammers, screwdrivers and such are hard to come by since the United States was divided, and tools aren’t considered a necessity in the treaty.
Zack keeps his tools under lock and key because they’ve been taken more than once by other pilots. Every night he takes his tools and locks them in a toolbox and places them in his locker. While he picks up his oiled covered towel off the floor next to the front wheels of his plane and places it over his shirt, a voice comes over the speakers, “Zack Irons! You have a call waiting in the office.”
Zack quickly heads over to the office; he’s been waiting for this phone call all day because he knows who it is and why he’s calling. Zack has been anticipating this since he sent him to investigate who's been attacking the convoys. He goes to the manager’s office where the manager, Beth Thompson is waiting and hands him the phone.
Zack takes it and says, “Hey Tony, what’s the word?”
Tony says, “How many times do I have to tell you? My name is Wacko now.”
Zack says, “Well that’s an improvement from your last name but what’s with all the nicknames?”
Wacko says, “Code names bro, we don’t know who else could be listening. If I worked for the Union, then I have people listening in on everything that came out of the Restricted Zones. Call me Wacko, it’s not my fault I’m the only one who is cares about who might be listening.”
Zack laughs, looks at Beth and says, “Well someone is listening in on this and trust me she doesn’t give a shit who you are or why you’re calling me.”
Wacko says, “Oh you mean the cougar Beth? Yeah, I’m not a fan of red heads, but I do her if she offered.”
Zack says, “You do a wild animal if someone would hold it down. Now, what did you find out?”
Wacko says, “I ran into a group of wannabe thugs that were trying to raid a convoy. A pack of drifters but the problem is I took fingerprints from one of the guys I killed and he’s not registered.”
Zack looks at Beth and walks to the corner of the room. Hearing that last sentence sent a chill up his spine, and his mind became troubled by the likely possibility that someone is purposely trying to start the war. Zack says, “Wacko, are you entirely sure that the prints didn’t come up with anyone?”
Wacko says, “Everyone gets registered no mattered what side they go to and they’re identities are nowhere to be found. So some people crossed over undetected, or someone on our side fucked up. Considering that they’ve been having the same problems in other states, I’m willing to bet on the first scenario. I also took the weapons and some of them are good, too good to be available in the Restricted Zones.”
Zack wipes his face and puts the phone down for a minute; he rests his head on the wall while thoughts of bombs falling and gunshots in the air spark his fear.
Zack picks the phone up and says, “Alright. I’ll call David and let him know what you find out. How soon can you be back in San Antonio?”
 Wacko says, “I can be there in a few hours but I’m still cleaning up some loose ends over here, and I’m finishing the report right now, so the other states know what’s been going on down here. I’ll head up when I’m done with my job here.”
Zack says, “Ok, thank you for everything Wacko. I knew if anyone could catch these guys it be you, but now we have a bigger picture to figure out. See you in a few hours.” Zack hangs up the phone and turns to see Beth curling her long red hair; she looks at him with her beautiful green eyes.
She says, “You know that guy freaks everyone here out. You’re the only one that gives him the time of day, and everyone either thinks you’re a saint or crazy. Why are you around him?”
Zack walks over and hands her the phone while saying, “He’s the only friend I trust. Both to talk to and to get the job done, no matter how crazy or suicidal a job may be. That’s why we call him Wacko, it’s his code name. Besides, it’s the crazy ones who hide it that are dangerous.”
Beth stands next to Zack and says, “And what about me Zack? Am I dangerous? What would your code name for me be?”
Zack thinks about it for a minute and says, “Puma.” He walks out the office leaving Beth with a smile on her face. The smile goes away after she realizes she has no idea why her code name would be Puma.

America is divided by a corporate president, the government is broken by corrupt politicians, and a new rebellion is born. Corporations rule the country and a fragile peace is close to breaking down. Here's an excerpt from New Age Rebels, available on Amazon and if you like, please follow the link. Thank you and until the next is written.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Tower Falls

Stephen King will go down as arguably one of the greatest writers of our time because of his novels and the films adapted from them. Unfortunately, even the greatest of writers won’t have a decent adaption and that’s the case for The Dark Tower. This film had a lot of promise, but couldn’t deliver in the end, even with the star power of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. The Dark Tower came off looking like it was going to be an action-packed kickoff to the film adaption of the series. If you’re a fan of the novels then I urge you to avoid this movie if you expect to see a fair adaption.

The Dark Tower is an eight-novel series about a lone warrior known as a gunslinger by the name of Roland Deschain. The gunslingers were an order sworn to protect the tower that has significant meaning. The tower is a structure that stands in the center of everything; it protects all the worlds from the darkness that can’t take over as long as the tower stands. This film is based off the first book, The Gunslinger. Now film adaption of novels are mostly never to the letter, but if almost feels like the director didn’t even try in the film.

The story telling is simplistic with very little backstory and it turns out to be mostly dialogue; there’s only about 20 minutes of action. There were some cool movements during the fire fights, but it was over before you could enjoy it. Matthew McConaughey did a good job portraying the man in black, but the vision the director may have had for the film may not go well with people who had their own opinions. The way the man in black uses his magic will most likely make the audience laugh than amaze them. Everything about this film was quick and for fans who read the novels, this will be the biggest complaint.

From the get go, it starts with here’s the tower and this is how it can come down, but we don’t have the right child which we find out later is Jake. Jake, played by Tom Taylor, was ok but he did have good chemistry with Idris Elba. Idris has yet to disappoint me with any role but he has had a bad habit doing some films that don’t bring in the money. This film will definitely be one of those films that will have a good first week, but that’ll be it. I be shocked if there is enough money made for a sequel.

The Dark Tower is a fast food adaption from the novels and was a huge let down for the fans. Straight to the point with no explanation of why things were the way they were and no back story describing who people are. If you’re in the mood to just watch something to pass the time, then this movie may be pleasing to you. If you’re familiar with the novel and looking for a decent adaption, then don’t even bother to wait for this to come out on Netflix. This film gets a five out of ten, because you might enjoy this if you don’t know anything about the series.