Top 5 Most Disappointing Movies of 2015

This section always makes me sad. Very sad. In a medium I love so dearly, why must shit cloud its artistic shelves?

Honorable Mention: A Most Violent Yearmaxresdefault (1)

It’s honestly a good flick, but in no world can it justify its run time. The plot is solid but could be condensed to forty minutes. When I can shave off over half the movie’s run time and still piece together every single story element, that’s an issue. A Most Boring Year is good, if you’re doing spring cleaning with it on in the background or something.

5.) Black Mass
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Damn, organized crime movies just can’t get it together this year. Basically, Johny Depp’s makeup looks ridiculous, the movie is tediously slow without the skilled tension mounting of, say, the Godfather series, the pacing is awful and god help me did they waste Corey Stoll’s character. He singlehandedly could’ve saved this movie if they’d introduced him in the second half rather than the final twenty minutes. There was potential for a great throwdown and the movie just says “use your imagination because it DID happen we’re just not showing it.” No, Black Mass, I go to a movie to SEE cool things. Not imagine them.

4.) Spyspy-poster
If I were viewing this movie as a comedy, what it’s ADVERTISED as, it’d be my worst movie of the year simply because of how awful and devoid of humor the whole thing is. I give it the benefit of being a comedy/spy-thriller hybrid though, as the actual execution of the spy stuff wasn’t that bad. Still, not funny whatsoever. Two chuckle-worthy one-liners are all you get and the run time is much longer than those two sentences, I assure you.

3.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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This movie managed to rip my heart out even though I went in with zero expectations. It’s just so soulless. As much as people hate on the prequels, at least they TRIED to tell a new story. This shit is just a shameless rehash of the original trilogy’s plots rolled into one gargantuan pile of Disney money-generating garbage. The story has so many ridiculous conveniences after the first twenty minutes that I honestly couldn’t take it seriously, and my friends and I were laughing from the halfway point to the finish line at how much of a joke this reboot was. And it IS a soft reboot, because if it wasn’t, what the fuck is their justification for calling this Episode 7 when it’s just a supercut of Episodes 4, 5 and 6?

2.) Avengers: Age of UltronAvengers-Age-of-Ultron-Trailer-1-Quicksilver-Saves-Captain-America-570x237

Disney is knocking it out of the park this year with people eating up their shit and throwing money at by-the-numbers cookie cutter action flicks. My issue with this movie is, simply put, it’s the week of Ultron, not the age. He is the most poorly written villain I’ve seen in my LIFE. In the first trailer, he was fucking scary, in a good way. In the movie? He’s a comedian who never uses any of his fucking powers, literally just to let the good guys win. HE CAN HACK THE INTERNET. You know how much damage he could cause within a matter of seconds? He could’ve started WW3 and been on his merry way while the Avengers drowned in a sea of global violence. But no, he hacks one bank account then plays with vibranium cylinders for the rest of the movie. It’s pathetic, and I really hope none of the writing staff are proud of themselves for this, Joss Whedon and his secret ghost assistants or otherwise.

1.) Terminator GenisysNE1PqyiYsqPO54_1_a
At least the other movies had some form of endearment going for them. Some scene or line of dialogue I could pick out and go “hey, that wasn’t so bad”. This movie has pasties on tits, special effects from the 70’s and a lead female who can’t decide whether she wants to be Juliet or Sarah goddamn Connor. The plot is garbage and riddled with the same kinds of awful conveniences and plotholes Age of Ultron and The Force Awakens had, just without even a glimmer of the same charm. Ew. This movie is just ew.

Top 10 Disappointing Games of 2015

Let’s take out the trash before we celebrate the gems, of which there were very few this year. It’s been a bad one for gaming, unless you’re a sucker for good action RPGs (not that that’s a bad thing, they’re just not my type of experience).

10.) Arkham Knight (Disappointment: All platforms)batmanthumb

Totally ignoring the fact that the PC port was GARBAGE, I mean, just downright unacceptable (Warner Bros. offered no-questions refunds for half a fucking year it was so bad!), the game itself is just “meh”. The story is predictable and the only highlight is the very final five second cutscene. Not to mention the absurd writing. If the Arkham Knight had put a single man in any of his drones Batman would commit suicide and this whole game would be over before it began. And the god-damned batmobile, oof. You guys remember the Transformers: Dark of the Moon tie-in game? Half of Arkham Knight is that thanks to the batmobile. It works in Transformers because of the property, but here? No.

9.) Rainbow Six: Siege (Disappointment: PC)R6S_Screenshot_2_196930

It’s actually a pretty great game; good fun and all that jazz. And I only paid $20 for it, so the fact it made it on here is still pretty impressive given my forgiving price bias. Here’s the skinny: click here to read more

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Sucks! (SPOILER REVIEW)

So, The Force Awakens:starwarshorizontal.jpg

-Terrible villains. Phasma is a complete joke and Kylo Ren is a spoiled brat who throws temper tantrums and does the usual “ooh villain is really evil because he kills his own men out of rage” schtick. Dude, if you keep doing that people won’t want to work for you.
-Snoke looks stupid as hell. He’s an overgrown Gollum/Voldemort love child.
-TONS of plot conveniences, everywhere. I’m interrupting this review to go over every plot convenience I could catch in a single viewing, from memory.

Plot conveniences (tons of spoilers of course [not chronological]):
-Han’s new freighter happens to be magically drifting above the single spot on the single planet in the entire galaxy where his old ship, piloted by the new heroes, will be flying. And why the hell would he risk going by there anyway if he owes the locals cash. Sure, you can argue he picked the Falcon up on a scanner and would recognize his old ship anywhere, but then, in the years the Falcon has been handed from thief to thief, why does Han only now choose to appear and take it back?
-First Order lets a single trooper that just showed documented signs of disobedience transport their most valuable hostage of the moment BY HIMSELF, and no one notices what they’re up to until the heavily populated hangar is already lit in flames.
-Luke’s lightsaber is conveniently stored away at a friend of Han’s bar and yet only when force-sensitive girl comes does the owner of said bar feel the need to talk about it; not during the many assumed times that Han, best buddy of Luke’s, has strolled by.
-The Rathtars conveniently wipe out every single enemy aboard the Millenium Falcon and are only weak to Rey’s amazing button mashing skills.
-Phasma actually shuts down the alarm just because she got captured by a few goofballs. So you’re telling me the First Order does NOT have any sort of subtle code you can punch in to trigger an alarm? There’s no way Finn and co. would know. The fact that just pointing a gun at Phasma earned them an instant shutdown of the most powerful weapon in the galaxy is a joke. Besides, aren’t troopers supposed to sacrifice their lives before betraying the cause? Basically, for all their resources and “might” the First Order has been really incompetent this whole movie.
-Every situation lines up perfectly FOR Finn to capture Phasma and shut down the aforementioned weapon even though he doesn’t have the force (so he can’t cheat like Rey) and only worked as a janitor before, pfffffft.
-On the green planet (please tell me the name, I forgot), the only lightsaber resistant Storm Trooper we’ve seen yet just happens to be present when the only good guy light saber crops up, meaning he just happens to be perfectly equipped to throw down with Finn.
-The Resistance magically knew to attack the First Order on that green planet but not when, I dunno, Poe was boned at the beginning of the movie or any of the other times when the Resistance’s assistance would’ve been greatly appreciated.
-R2 magically wakes up when Han dies because “let’s finish this fucking movie”. Nevermind that he was on low battery and “dead”, did Luke program him to just snap awake when Han ate the dust? That’s fucked.
-Luke conveniently leaves a map of his entire mission even though he supposedly wants to be missing, leaving just a single literal holographic puzzle piece to be found to complete R2’s map.
-During Kylo and Rey’s showdown, Kylo just pauses for a solid ten seconds while Rey finds the force within her or some shit. No, Kylo, that’s when you kick her into the pit, not stand there.
-And virtually every time Rey does anything. I’ll let the initial Falcon battle slide because Star Wars is full of characters beating the odds out of sheer luck in aerial combat, and I’ll let anything she did after the interrogation go, too, because “foooooorce”. But in between, Jesus, did she get a lot of narrative favors.  I give her leeway on the Falcon bit because she shows familiarity with it when she calls it junk, so you can assume she’s studied it before. Plus, luck. But when she magically knows how to stop the gas leak inside of it AFTER the big fight? Or knows exactly how to find the security room to close the door to stop Finn from being eaten? Or when she repeatedly finishes Han’s tech sentences for him? Sure, scavenging might get you one of the above, but not all of them. It doesn’t mean she’s seen every ship in the galaxy crash landed on a desert.
-If Luke had simply TOLD HIS NEPHEW ABOUT VADER’S FINAL ACT OF GOODWILL, Kylo Ren wouldn’t be a villain at all. This movie wouldn’t exist. The writers smartly omit the backstory of Luke saying a single fucking sentence of lesson learning to his apprentices.

Aaaaand that’s all memory allowed for on a single viewing. But really, if all of that is point-blank obvious to me after one showing, I can’t even imagine how many I’d find after a second.
The CGI is so over-saturated that it looks like Attack of the Clones. Seriously, Revenge of the Sith had better visuals.
-Plot is, like I predicted, just a nostalgia tickling rehash of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 rolled into one. Lone force sensitive person whisked off a desert planet by the Millennium Falcon? Episode 4 reporting for duty. Character having an emotional catwalk “I am your father” heart to heart which ends with one of them getting fucked up? Episode 5 present. Giant finale with two force users lightsabering it out in an isolated location while a spaceship fleet blows up the Death Star (“oooh but it’s different this time,” the fans said, “because it’s bigger” pffffffffffffft that means every Transformers movie invented the wheel)? Episode 6, we missed you.
-How much more pandering can this movie be? It’s written like a bad SJW fight-the-patriarchy ad. Female heroes can and have been well done in the past, but the writing for Rey is downright contrived. *Slams random buttons on everything she pilots or operates* “Best pilot in the galaxy!” *Saves Jon Boyega’s ass repeatedly* “She doesn’t need a man!” *Knows Han’s ship better than he does* “She’s so tech-y and smart!”. Christ, J.J., we get it. It just feels forced (that pun though).
-A lackluster score. This is, ahem, STAR WARS and the MUSIC BLEW. It’s a by-the-numbers space opera fanfare OST. Now, I know Williams invented that, but that’s exactly why he needed to surprise us here. If an artist isn’t growing, he’s dying… and I think Williams is literally dying so I guess that makes sense.
-Forced Hitler imagery and generic evilness. Ooh, the First Order all raise their arms in a nazi fashion when lame-ass overly asshole-ish Domhnall Gleeson’s “we’re so villainous” speech is over. And isn’t it just great how they invent a bigger Death Star that wipes a dozen inhabited planets out, just ’cause? Killing random races and species and sectors of space life in one button press is fun, bad guys, we get it.
-Han dying for artificial emotional resonance. Oooookay, Abrams, since the rest of your movie is boring and emotionally hollow as shit, just kill off the best character in the series for some forced gasps. It’s the only playing card you have, apparently. At least Harrison can stop bitching about not liking the role anymore.
-The 3D was fucking lame. Not a single scene stood out or did any sort of 3D popping of noteworthy quality. I had to go with the jacked up 3D pricing because 2D showings weren’t time-accommodating for me, and I’m assuming that’s what’s forcing most other viewers into the 3D screenings. Even though it’s total shit.

Seriously, this movie is well behind the original trilogy and even Revenge of the Sith. It’s only better than The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and that isn’t saying much. Star Wars may be back, but only in a weak, regurgitated form because Disney and Hollywood can’t let good things rest.

How DICE Could (Hypothetically) Salvage Star Wars Battlefront’s Walker Assault Mode

UPDATED THOUGHTS 10/11/15: I’ve grown to love the imbalance of Walker Assault. It’s almost like a multiplayer version of hard mode when you get to be the rebels, and that makes sense. In The Empire Strikes Back, the rebels were caught with their pants down against the full military might of the Empire and their scary-as-fuck robot camels. That’s how it should be. I like losing more as the rebels, simply because those rare occasions where we actually win are then made that much more satisfying. Unfortunately, but probably for the better, it will likely be patched to the point where the Empire will be the harder-working of the two sides. And that sucks, as currently in the beta people are finally figuring out how to use the game’s tools to win anyhow, balanced or not, as rebels.no_text_-_Star_Wars_Battlefront_Key_Art.0.0

Also, I finally got tons of playtime in with Vader and Luke. They’re both okay. Fun enough. But the one thing glaringly wrong with them is the lack of a time-extension feature for killing enemies. That was one of the best parts of SWBF2, the rush you got when you were in a nonstop kill-spree as a jedi or sith for an uninterrupted five minutes because for every enemy you killed you got an extra couple of seconds added to your timer. Here, it’s a matter of maximizing the allotted time given to you by not taking excessive damage. Eh. I understand they did it so hero power-ups wouldn’t become an instant win token for the few who would inevitably learn to break the jedi and sith, but still, I’d rather have it that way and have the tokens be a treat rather than just a mild variety card like they are now.

Original post: Lots of Battlefront posts, I know. But I’m doing it for two reasons: A.) Because I love this series and want to get every thought out there, and B.) If I compiled them all into one article it’d be a fifty page memo.battlefront_3.0

Here’s where we’re at: I’ve played an extensive chunk of the beta at this point, and I think there are some very simple remedies that would make Walker Assault much more fun and the game as a whole a lot better.

1.) Fix the spawns. Before anything else can be fixed, make it so that I don’t have to run two hundred yards to reach the satellite uplinks as either team.

2.) Make deactivating the uplinks take longer. This is the first way Walker Assault could become a more fundamentally balanced mode. If it takes longer for individual Empire players to deactivate rebel uplinks, that means it’s fair to assume less will be deactivated overall, giving the rebels far more shots at damaging the pair of AT-ATs.

3.) Let the X-Wings and A-Wings do chip damage. If you let their torpedoes and rockets do incremental damage to the AT-ATs (with their shields still active), it’ll add up over the course of the match and really give a sense of purpose to those who like to spend the entire time dogfighting instead of joining the fray on foot.

4.) Unrelated note: fix the vehicle token bug. Half the time when I use a vehicle token I go into the request animation but never actually get inside the vehicle itself, the game just shoving me back into first-person soldier mode as though nothing had happened.

Now, given these ideas for improvement, I’ve also refined my earlier thoughts regarding the beta. If there’s one thing I’ve learned to love about it, it’s the flight combat. Now that I’ve actually gotten a decent amount of time inside the TIE Fighters, X-Wings, A-Wings and Snowspeeders (still no TIE Bomber opportunity yet…), I can safely say they’re the best part of the game. The sound effects, the lasers, the air rippling off the side of the TIE fighter’s massive panels, all of it is MASTERFULLY done and feels super authentic. I actually felt giddy when I managed to do an aerial somersault that barely skimmed past an enemy X-Wing, the whole ordeal accompanied by the glorious screech of the near-death TIE Fighter I was piloting. Speaking of which, I am SUPER happy they brought back the automated vehicle maneuver feature from SWBF2 that lets you do bad-ass barrel rolls and flips with the touch of a button; really makes controlling flight an enjoyable experience.

Still not a single go-around with Luke or Vader, sadly. I really hate that it’s based on random luck of the draw. And really, that still sums up my feelings on the gameplay overall. It’s built for casual Star Wars fans who just want to play a game set in their favorite universe, not classic Battlefront fans who want a great game built-in as well. Too many things are left up to random tokens for it to be an exhilarating, competitive experience, unfortunately.

Well, It’s Official: Star Wars Battlefront… Sucks

Here we go. First chance for me to give it a spin and not be reduced to giving armchair commentary on the shoddy looking E3 gameplay. So, how do I MYSELF think it plays after having gone into it and rustled every jimmy the beta had to offer?Star-Wars-Battlefront-3-Beta-Darth-Vader-Hoth

In short, as I predicted yet hoped would prove me wrong, it sucks. I mean, wow. After playing one round as the rebels and one as the empire for variety’s sake, I literally had no desire to play another match. Not a good sign.

Here’s the skinny: the core shooting lacks any sort of impact and feels more arcade-y than the original Star Wars Battlefront‘s, I’m not even shitting you. It feels like you’re shooting harmless light beams at beanbags rather than people in this game. The jumping is stiff and allows for little improvisation, and you can’t prone at all from what I know. Unreal. Not to mention that even for a beta the weapon variety is terrible. DICE has made no indications that the full game will include more than one class for each side (meanwhile, SWBF2 had six), meaning the pathetic four guns on display here might be all you get in the final product. What the fuck. Also, a nitpick on the controls: you have to manually swap from first person to third person every time you respawn. I had to click and hold “c” every damn time. Why can’t we just set a first or third person preference like in Strike Vector?

So that’s the shooting. Moving on to vehicles, well, good luck even getting in one. DICE had the brilliant idea to make every rare item, vehicle and hero a power-up unlockable that appears completely randomly somewhere on the field. Do you love the memories you have of SWBF2‘s intense dogfights? Well, good luck finding a fucking power-up token on the ground to even access the goddamn ship, let alone learn its controls and pilot it tactfully. The same goes for the AT-AT and the AT-ST.

To be fair, the one thing I actually liked about this beta was the idea they were going for with the AT-AT. Had that been the ONLY vehicle to require a power-up token to access, I would’ve loved the idea. Since in SWBF1 whoever piloted the AT-AT was a bit of an overpowered jerk-off, it was a nice idea DICE tried to implement to limit any individual’s time with the most powerful vehicle on the map, constrained also by the fact that it’s on rails. But, to reiterate, DICE fucked up when they made every vehicle restricted by this token gimmick.

This also means I didn’t get a single chance to play as the hero or villain, that’s right. Not one minute of Vader or Luke action to be had, because it’s all based on randomly spawning token bullshit rather than skill. You know, skill, that concept SWBF2 rewarded you for performing by letting you play as a hero or villain after pulling off incredible battle feats. Not just randomly doling out the reward to whatever moron was lucky enough to stumble across a fucking token.

Last major complaint is how unbalanced the main mode on display is. Walker Assault HEAVILY favors the empire side. I won both my matches on both sides, but as rebels our team pulled out a victory with literally seconds to go. On the empire side, we won virtually hands down without much of a struggle. In other words, the empire side has a gross advantage. Does DICE even play test this shit?

UPDATE 10/9/15: I’ve gone ahead and created a list of simple suggestions for how DICE can fix Walker Assault mode. My expanded thoughts on the beta, especially the vehicular gameplay, are included as well.

As for the other modes, there’s some tacky 8v8 COD-wannabe mode I gave one whirl. It’s essentially a smaller, vastly less interesting TDM mode which emphasizes the weak gameplay on display in this beta. The only marginally cool part was how the map was on Sullust, a map SUPPOSED to be on a volcanic ice planet. Yet, the map has no lava. Or volcanoes. Or ice/snow. It’s a fucking mud-crater map. Laaaaaaaaaaaame. Like, seriously, it’s as though DICE went out of their way to make a cool concept for a planet the most boring thing possible.

The other mode in the beta is survival, a single player or co-op experience where you defend yourself against waves of generic stormtroopers and once in a while an AT-ST. It’s six waves of utter meh, the same survival/horde mode nonsense you’ve seen in dozens of third person shooters over the last decade.

So, yeah. I’m gonna be honest, I’m getting good enough at this “reading E3 footage” to accurately figure out my opinions on a game just by watching, as my impressions when I posted my Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront Will Suck post turned out to be entirely accurate to how I feel now, fresh off having played the beta firsthand. In fact, I’m slightly more bitter about the game now after having found out every vehicle, useful power-up and hero character can only be accessed through fucking tokens. That is the worst idea I’ve ever seen implemented in a multiplayer game, like, honestly.

Who wants to bet if you spend $3.99 in-game EA will grant you a five-pack of hero tokens?