Avengers: Endgame Review

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MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD:

This review’s definitely not a day late, because I’m setting it to have been posted yesterday. And just like the movie, I don’t care if that’s cheating, because the entire film is made up of time travel tomfoolery like that.

Here’s the scoop: Endgame is just three hours of fun and genuine excitement, and definitely feels like an “event” more than any other movie before it. However, that’s all it is. An event. A trip to the carnival. Heart-stoppingly intense? Yes. Much less of a shitty comedy and more of a proper drama than previous Marvel flicks? Thank God, it is. A fitting conclusion to the MCU as we know it? Give (Captain Marvel) or take, sure.

Minus one cringe-inducing girl-power scene where a crying, weak little Spider-Man hands a plot McGuffin over to the hyper-masculine, stoic, and emotionless Carl Manvers, followed by a funny group shot of the women banding together to accomplish nothing for a hot sec while the guys kick back and let their female counterparts feel good about themselves, the movie was pretty good when it wasn’t defining heroes’ worth by their genitals.

But you already know all of this. You’ve read the reviews. “Fan-service” this and “I love you 3000” that. All the normie takes have already been made. So here’s my brilliant, totally original take: The Russo Bros. are lackluster directors. It’s been this way forever, they just happened to fool me with Winter Soldier. Their scene direction (and its accompanying editing style) is choppy and custom-built for Instagram posts, and I can smell their television roots in every scene.

Their style lacks grandiose. This sad phenomenon is especially visible during action scenes, when the Russo Bros. fail to capitalize on the epic nature of the heroes they’re in charge of.

Take, for example, a bad-ass moment when Pepper Potts teams up with her husband to kill some aliens. Both of them are in Iron Man suits and it looks awesome. Her armor is flared out like a purple phoenix, and Tony’s is doing that badass unibeam attack that deserved to crop up way more often in the MCU. The camera circles around them super-duper fast, showing them doing these epic maneuvers back to back with each other. It’s great. The pacing is electric, the choreography is fluid, everything about that shot is fantastic–except for the fact that it’s over in three seconds (the link to the clip will probably get taken down by YT, but I’m being literal when I say three damn seconds).

That kind of moment deserves, hell, at least ten seconds, just so the audience can process it, digest it, and then revel in it. The issue is, Team Russo (TM) only cares that audiences process it, then they move right along without giving anyone the time to savor it. It feels lazy, like they didn’t want to properly manufacture tension and think out genuine ways to extend the choreography to reach peak potential, so they cut away the second they’ve done just barely enough to “satisfy” the masses.

Think back to the stunning action sequences in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for a moment: every one of those featured a kinetic flow and sense of effortless endurance that puts each and every Endgame action scene to shame. Also think about other superhero films, like those directed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan never shirked away from challenges like the ones mentioned above, which is why his stellar Batman trilogy will be remembered long after this film and the majority of other MCU flicks.

That last line sums up my feelings on this movie: great, but not memorable. The Russo Bros. just aren’t in the business of making films that leave a lasting impression, beyond their utilization of superficial narrative parlor tricks like the ending of Infinity War. As another reviewer stated, this movie is clear-cut pro-forma storytelling. I’m inclined to agree.

Review of Quantum Break (PC) — The Worst Port of All-Time?

Across years of PC gaming, I’ve stumbled upon a few bad ports, sure. Trash ports, even.

None of them hold a candle to this.keyart_quantum_break_microsoft

Quantum Break should be re-titled Hardware Break on PC, as it’s a mess. I know the developers issued a big update to remedy (unintentional developer pun) some of the original port problems, but the game must’ve been unable to load fucking menus at that point if this is how bad it is post-“fix.” Make no mistake, this is by far the worst port I’ve ever encountered.

The issues started early on, in an unprecedentedly severe fashion. Boatloads of stuttering and framerate drops began during the very first instance of interactive gameplay, an indicator that I was in for a bad time. So after a minute of the choppiest, most broken third-person action I’d ever experienced, I paused and began tinkering with settings. During this tech-support mission I discovered that the most random changes would boost my framerate for a few brief, blissful seconds. Turning textures from medium to ultra? Less stuttering. Turning off the framerate cap? A more steady framerate. These elements were helping, but nowhere near enough to make the gameplay, well, playable. As such, this experimentation went on for a good hour until I did the unthinkable: I lowered every setting to its lowest possible level, and only then did the game become (barely) playable (25-ish frames consistently). Problem number one averted.

Keep in mind my rig’s above the minimum specs; a GTX 960 shouldn’t be chugging because of this shit. Yet here I was, just thankful to be able to play the game in some fashion even though it looked like a first-wave Xbox 360 title. Then crisis number two struck.

Now, I’ve got 8GB of RAM, the acceptable bar for this title. So no funny business should be happening in that department, right? Wrong. After about thirty minutes of any given gameplay session, memory leaking would begin. Even at the lowest settings with a GTX960 and 8GB of RAM, I was suffering memory leaks and a framerate that could barely cling to a consistent bar of just below 30. It was bad. Against all odds, it somehow found a way to get even worse. Strap in, ladies and gents, it’s story time.

I’d made it to the final battle, the big ol’ boss fight at the bitter end. No amount of stutters, framerate drops or freezes could stop me. Or so I thought. See, the final boss uses screen-cluttering effects the size and scope of which the game hadn’t had to render in real-time prior, meaning my rig was unprepared for a fresh new wave of paralyzing code to strike. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first time I lost the boss fight was because my character’s foot got caught in a web of suspended scaffolding, a simple obstacle hit-box error on the part of the designers who created the map. That was simply the game’s cluttered design at work, nothing technical… yet. Round two is where the tech errors really began cropping up. The second time I lost the fight was because I paused the game, alt-tabbed to see if anyone else had gotten texture-caught during the fight. Thanks to UWP (Universal Windows Platform), my game decided that alt-tabbing meant I was done playing and TURNED OFF THE PROGRAM MID-PAUSE. Very, very frustrating, after having waded through a murky six hours of the ugliest, most poorly optimized game I’d ever played, during round two of an unimpressive boss fight. But this was the final conflict. I was determined to see it through. So I booted up the game and delved into the abyss of Windows 10 gaming once more.

I blast through the intro cutscene, making quick work of the bad guys that stood between me and the arrival of the final boss. Cue cutscene number two. The big boss sends his goons but no amount of AI baddies in the world can stop me at this point. I’m determined, baby. I’m on fire. I blast the first teleporting enemy with a time bomb, freezing him in place as I dash my way over to bad guy number two, punching him straight to hell before warping backwards and slowing time to a crawl, firing off a series of shots at the frozen dude and a third scrub right next to him. No problem. After one more bad-ass time-dash into an enemy and one satisfying punch later, I was ready for the big boss’s screen-shattering attack. The room goes red and my framerate starts to tank, but I’m not worried. Relying on pure instinct, I press buttons that I know will guide me to the right side of the room and, lo and behold, after the stuttering is finished, I’ve successfully evaded his attack straight from muscle memory. Awesome. Now I’m onto wave two of bad guys. A heavy troop enters the room with a cohort of fellow rifle-wielders, unaware of what he and his friends have just walked into. I time freeze the big guy before bubbling myself, becoming immune to the grunts’ bullets while I pour into their leader. Within seconds he’s down and I’m dashing around the room like lighting, speed-punching troops left and right with reckless abandon. Before I know it, another ten guys are dead on the floor and it’s back to my one v one with the final boss himself. Alright, Paul Serene, you son of a bitch. Let’s finish this.

He lights up his big red glowing spirit bomb in a desperate last-ditch effort to stop my push, but he’s no match for me. I’ve not come this far to let a smarmy AI bend me over and fuck me sideways. I run as fast as my time-travelling legs will carry me, the room aglow with ghastly red hues as the blue triangles of my speed effect are consumed by the enemy’s color, a sign that he’s nearing max attack capacity—then the screen becomes awash with white, a sign of the most powerful attack in the game, a force stronger than anything I’d seen Serene throw at me up ’till this point—Quantum Break has crashed.

At that point I uninstalled the game and ten minutes later here I am writing my review.

Yes, that means I haven’t seen the game’s intended ending. But I DID get an ending. The end to my time buying Windows 10 Xbox One ports. The final boss is Phil Spencer, and I’ll be damned if I let him beat me again.

In conclusion:

Pros
-Fun time powers
-Solid cast of characters

Cons
-It’s seven hours long, and that’s including the hour and a half of integrated TV episodes
-Story is kooky and not in the quirky-girl-next-door kind of way
-Enemies are uninspired, constantly counteracting time powers and taking away the game’s only fun element
-Walking simulator
-Lapses in story logic are all over the place
-Live action TV episodes are amateur affairs by people obviously better suited producing and directing CG drama
-Map designs are uninspired, leading to hit or miss combat situations
-The final boss is broken in more ways than one
THE GAME IS UTTERLY BROKEN ON PC NO MATTER YOUR SYSTEM SPECS

If you’re reading this as a PC gamer (it’s in the title, dude), then that last bullet point should be the only one you need to determine if this game is right for you. Simply put: it’s not. Avoid at all costs on PC, unless you want to suffer through an ugly slog of a game (lowest settings) at 25-ish FPS that demands you forfeit any love you once held for Remedy Studios. Alan Wake, if your long overdue sequel is headed to Xbox One and Windows 10 any time soon… atone.

“Captain America: Civil War” Batman V Superman 2: The Better Jokes Edition

All the same issues. Like with Batman and Superman, I had no emotional investment in Spidey and Black Panther, as they’re rushed, moving plot vehicles/blatant fan service. Hell, Spidey has LITERALLY no reason to be in the movie. It was obvious he’s here solely because the marketing deal with Sony fell through and Marvel wanted to flaunt it. Black Panther goes from “dad let me kiss your hand” to “I’m going to kill Bucky Barnes” within ten dialogue lines of finding out about the latter’s existence. Jesus.Captain-America-Civil-War-Key-Art.jpg

The drama is cringe-y as usual a la Age of Ultron; the only good, meaningful moment being the final ten minute fight between Cap and Iron Man. And even then, what WAS the shining ten minute moment of this otherwise trashy two and a half hour movie is sullied by *MASSSSSSSSSSIVE SPOILER* an instant reconciliation of ALL the movie’s potential lasting impacts on the MCU.

And to all the goofs claiming the villain “wins” in this one, no, he doesn’t. All the Avengers are basically friends again by the end, minus Tony Stark who will be re-accepted as a buddy by Infinity War Part 2. So again, NO consequences in a Marvel film.

Moving on, the new Spider-Man, beyond being RANDOMLY found by Tony Stark with absolutely no build-up, has a hot aunt and lives in a posh fucking apartment and has zero charm. He’s easily the worst of the three Spider-Men we’ve seen. For me, Garfield remains king by a small margin over Maguire, but both still stomp the shit out of Holland.

Lastly, the Russos direct their action sequences through fucking GIFs. It’s all just BAMBAMBAMBAM without a single cohesive motion in the frame. Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double’s scenes are so shaky-cam filled you can’t even see her. Between bad stunt double filming and cuts that last only a matter of milliseconds before the next disconnected shot is slammed into the forefront, virtually all the action in the movie is an utter mess. The only two exceptions are, once again, the climactic final fight and one sick Bucky+Cap team-up on a stairwell.

The Good:

-Emotional, well-motivated final fight between Cap and Iron Man
-Great Bucky+Cap apartment/stairwell team-up sequence

The Bad:

-Zero consequences
-No build-up to the bevy of unsupported random reveals (Black Panther and Spidey)
-Cheesy dialogue
-Mishmash of sequel setups
-Airport fight is terribly overhyped. It’s underwhelming and average at best
-The movie is only a hair better than its lackluster predecessor, Age of Ultron
The giant ocean prison just appears at a point

The Ugly:

-The continued downward spiral of storytelling in the MCU

Review of “Terminator: Genisys”

It’s mediocre. Go for Schwarzenegger, or don’t go at all.

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There are a bevy of issues with Genisys, and there’s so many to get through that I don’t think I’ll have time to put them in a proper, well-formatted order. Instead, here they are as they cross my mind.

1.) The CGI is garbage

I cannot believe a high-profile movie like Terminator: Genisys has the worst CGI I’ve seen so far this year. Fucking Spy did special effects better. SPY.

2.) Emilia Clarke was baaaaad

Of course Schwarzenegger was going to be a boss, no one expected any less. Jason Clarke was awesome, just like he always is. Even Jai Courtney was good. JAI WAS GOOD. If he can be good for once, how could anyone possibly be bad? Well, Emilia Clarke showed us how. She played a Sarah Connor unintentionally suffering from bipolar disorder. One moment she’s acting like a wannabe stoic heroine, the next she’s crying naked in the locker room as Jai sweet-talks her. Honestly, while I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, from what I’d heard Emilia was supposedly really good. She doesn’t show it here, at all. But then again… in that show you got to see her tits, so maybe that is warping peoples opinions? Here there was just a lame push-up bra scene and one hilarious moment where they tried to show her full boobs but you could actually see her wearing pasties. Christ, the poor camera work.

3.) There’s no reason for this movie to exist, going by its own plot

The plot has a MASSIVE flaw right from the get-go. The machines have this secret weapon that can instantly win them the war right from the beginning, yet they only use it, once, when the humans are about to overcome them. This is literally just to set up a save-the-world plot, with zero accountability on the writers’ part. The machines could’ve used this weapon a thousand times over years before the human strike team attacked their top secret facility and erased every timeline where a rebellion survived, all before the first five seconds of this movie began rolling. But nooooo, just because the words ‘time travel’ are thrown around a lot, we’re expected to overlook this fact.

4.) It’s just a series of events

Not in the nice, flowing way certain movies pull off. Here, it’s just ‘thing happens, cut to next thing, big thing segues this thing’. It’s like they just made a two hour collection of trailer shots and called it a movie. Cool idea, not at all acceptable execution.

5.) While I’m yelling about the writing and plot, might as well point out the dialogue here is atrocious

I feel like a small fraction of the reason I tore Emilia’s horrible performance to shreds up above is because the writing is god-awful. I at least applaud her for not cringing every time she said something, because if it were me I’d be vomiting after the first table read. This dialogue is some of the worst, most immersion breaking dialogue I’ve ever heard. Seriously, it’s like the writers just looked up “shit ten-year-olds hear in action movies and think sounds cool or emotional” and compiled the top fifty quotes from that list into this movie.

6.) Stupid cliches up the ass

Why, why why why why why does every movie have to have some dramatic, emotional dialogue while the immediate threat is, like, five hallways away? At one point Emilia Clarke is giving this kid some long hand-holding cuddle session on a stairwell to make him feel good or something, while the terminator is marching towards them ready to slice and dice their squishy human flesh. This is the dumbest cliche on the planet. In real life, would you hold a little stairwell circle-jerk session right as a MORPHING ROBOT OF DEATH is on the same floor and coming to kill you and everyone you care about? No, you wouldn’t!

7.) Movie includes the star child from Mass Effect 3

You remember that little glowing blue piece of shit kid that ruined the end of Mass Effect 3 for you? He’s here at the end of Terminator: Genisys to ruin it as well (in case everything else listed here didn’t already). Seriously, star child is in this movie. Uuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

8.) The trailers really DID spoil the best part

Usually, over-marketing doesn’t bother me. I’ll watch the main three trailers for a movie, and maybe a TV spot or two, but otherwise I’ll hold off specifically because I know movies love to put half their runtime up on Youtube these days. To be honest, The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s trailers didn’t ruin that movie for me. Avengers: Age of Ultron, while still a shit movie, was not preemptively ruined for me because of the three main trailers. Yet Terminator: Genisys decided to include the ONE COOL TWIST IN THIS MOVIE in the second trailer. Not even the third. The second. Trailer. And, having now seen the flick in its entirety, I can say that it was in fact the absolute single clever twist this movie had going for it. Sigh.

9.) This movie can’t suspend disbelief for shit

There’s a helicopter chase where Jai Courtney is being hunted by Jason Clarke, and it’s horrible. The helicopters, besides being constructed of sloppy CGI, handle better than an Iron Man suit; making INSANE turns and whipping around faster than Superman ever could. It’s ridiculous and totally takes you out of whatever experience kind of existed before this scene.

10.) No, really, you don’t understand how bad the CGI was

Within the first five movies you see electricity effects and a CGI recreated younger Arnold, and they ACTUALLY look like assets plucked out of an animated movie. Seriously, the lightning from the finale of Back to the Future was better. That movie is 30 years old. This movie is three days old.

Aaaaand that about sums up everything I have to say about Terminator: Genisys, as far as gripes go. In terms of compliments… well, like I said above, Arnold was boss. Jason Clarke is my main man through and through, and definitely puts on the best show (besides Schwarzenegger). He also gets the best scene (it’s the one where he’s getting sucked into a thingy, but you can see that IN THE TRAILER). Other compliments… um… some of the action was cool. Hans Zimmer does an okay job composing a score, for someone whose music is starting to sound like a collection of factory-produced “bwaaaaahs” rather than meaningfully crafted soundtracks.

THIS is the cool scene from the trailer that I mentioned in the above paragraph.

THIS is the cool scene from the trailer that I mentioned in the paragraph above.

Who am I kidding, just don’t go and see the movie. As Schwarzenegger might say, “I’ll be back”. To which I might respond: hopefully not, Arnold. Or at least, not like this.

Review of “Entourage”

It’s the natural evolution of the amazing HBO show of the same title, yet it only delivers on the promise of carrying over the series to the big screen, not fulfilling its promise of actually doing it justice.maxresdefault

Entourage is not a bad movie, it’s just not good. It’s an average episode of the original TV series, extended to the length of an hour and forty-five minutes. For the novelty of seeing the gang back together, it’s worth it, but at the same time, being a prior fan means you’ll be cursed with understanding just how average the work done here is. I went with a friend who knew nothing of the series beyond my brief description of “four douches in LA having sex, talking about movies and dealing with an angry guy named Ari Gold”. My friend, as a result, had a pretty good time having gone in with no standards to hold the movie against.

I feel like half of it comes from my sadness with Jeremy Piven’s performance. First off, in every interview leading up to this movie, he complained about how taxing it is to be Ari, and gave off the impression he doesn’t like playing the character. And when we couple this with Ari’s re-imagined less-angry-self personality that he adopted at the end of season eight, which carries over into the movie, the end result is just not a lot of fun. Considering he’s supposed to be the most colorful of the five main characters, when Turtle ends up having the most range, you know something’s wrong.

My other issue is that Doug Ellin felt the need to give all five characters objectives and conclusions in this single movie. I understand he didn’t want any of them to feel screwed over, but I would’ve liked more focus on the central plot around Vince and Ari’s dealings with the dumb Texans, as well as keeping Drama’s stuff, but doing away with Turtle’s shoehorned-in Ronda Rousey segments and Eric’s shit with Sloan. Seriously, that last thing with Eric could’ve been tightened to a one minute summary, just like they did in explaining Vince’s marriage from the end of season eight. And considering there’s only one funny scene that involves Eric at all, I just wasn’t feeling his arc this time around.

Overall, it felt more like a love letter to what Entourage stands for more than an embodiment of how great Entourage actually was. It was the statue dedicated to Batman, rather than the Dark Knight himself. In keeping with the metaphor, it was the Entourage movie we needed, but not the one we deserved.