Posts Tagged ‘Review’

I Went to Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at the Sydney Opera House

Oh look, a post that isn’t ludicrously lengthy.

At the end of last month I put to bed a small regret of mine – Half a decade ago I was presented with the opportunity to attend the Sydney debut of Symphony of the Goddesses, a worldwide concert tour immediately following on from the special Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary concerts in Japan and the USA. For reasons I can no longer remember clearly (probably funds), I did not take this opportunity. Naturally I regretted my decision pretty soon after the performance dates arrived and several of my friends raved about how good the show was. I told myself the next time I had such a chance I would not let it pass. But for years, no such chance appeared.

So when, after years of sporadic worldwide tours with varying set lists, the announcement was made that Symphony of the Goddesses would be returning to Sydney harbour this year, no price would have been too high for me to snatch up a ticket. Two years after entering the opera house for the first time to attend the Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions showcase, I was back in the venue’s main concert hall to take in the fully-realised music of one of my absolute favourite media franchises. And what an evening it was.

There are three main reasons I’d go to see an orchestral performance of a videogame music selection – The atmosphere, the craft and the arrangement. Hardly groundbreaking reasons of course, and I’m sure the majority of the people in attendance on the night had similar motivations. Atmosphere is created mostly by said people, whose collective energy and passion tend to elevate an event that otherwise gets by on a uniquely strange blend of nerdiness and class. This department provided the largest point of difference between the Pokemon concert and the Zelda one for me. At the Pokemon event, there seemed to be more themed and/or casual dress in and around the hall, while during the concert the audience reacted loudly to each track and arrangement – especially the more widely recognised ones. While the Zelda show was hardly black tie – and cosplay was there if you looked for it – I definitely noticed more of a conservative attitude to dress code in general. What’s more, during the concert you could tell a crowd favourite by a groundswell of hushed whispers and gasps rather than whoops and shouts. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason for this (perhaps Zelda’s slightly older fanbase, or the fact the concert landed on the exact weekend of PAX Australia in Melbourne) but it certainly lent the atmosphere a more reverential tone and allowed quieter pieces – of which Zelda boasts several – to shine.

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A Week With Pokemon Silver Version in 2017

I was a few paragraphs into writing this when the SNES Classic came out and ruined everything. I came back to the post afterwards and, naturally, it then turned into several thousand words.

2017 has been an insane year for new release videogames, a fact that has become even more true over the last few months. And yet my most anticipated release date of September 2017 was the 22nd, when Nintendo and the Pokemon Company would – at long last – release Pokemon Gold and Silver on the 3DS Virtual Console (Incidentally just about the only acknowledgement by the big N this year that such a service even still exists – sorry Switch owners). Patched up with wireless trading/battling functionality and wrapped in that gorgeous 3D-compatible faux-Game Boy Color shell, just like Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow last year, they presented a mouth-watering nostalgic proposition for me on paper. In fact as a testament to the sheer value that “comfort food” media can have, I even purchased and finished the VC version of Pokemon Red a couple of weeks earlier when it went on sale in anticipation of the newer re-releases, even though I had already given my full attention to Yellow in a similar manner in 2016.

Unlike Yellow, I no longer have access to my original Pokemon Silver cartridge, so I haven’t touched the original version in any form for almost fifteen years. In light of all the Pokemon generations that have come and gone in the years since, not to mention the glut of YouTube videos, podcasts and articles on the internet praising the second generation for all its once-groundbreaking qualities, I was more than ready to give Silver another go. And then write something about it, so i could feel less guilty about all the hours spent not doing anything else. This post will probably be a little scattershot in tone, and the “screenshots” will be poor and DIY in nature, but I’ll at least try to keep my thoughts aligned with the order of the game’s events.

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Ten More 2017 Movies Summarised in Ten Words Each

So apparently the last one of these that I wrote did rather well. Go figure – people like quick summaries of things.

Thanks to some brutal old-fashioned competition between the cinemas in my area and the general enthusiasm of my friends, I have already seen 20 of the movies released this year, either in cinemas or via on-demand video services. That puts me well within range of doubling the paltry thirteen I managed last year and puts me in good stead for a nice, meaty top ten list at the end of the year. But it also means I can do that thing again. You know, the one where I unfairly reduce ten movies I’ve seen this year to just ten words each.

Mild spoilers may follow. Read my earlier oversimplified 2017 list here.
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Wonder Woman

That’s two good 2017 DC movies. Gal Gadot is incredible.”

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Colossal

Part kaiju movie, part uncomfortable human drama. Insanely wellacted.”

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Ten 2017 Movies Summarised in Ten Words Each

There are a few things I don’t like when it comes to properly discussing movies – or any piece of entertainment media, really – but two of my biggest pet peeves are

  1. Overly simplistic analysis;
  2. Relying heavily on comparison to other pieces of media.

Yet here we are in the middle of the year and I have written virtually nothing on this site about movies, mostly due to heavy time investment elsewhere in life. What’s more, I have somehow already seen ten films in cinemas this year (Throughout the entirety of 2016 I saw just thirteen). These two facts have combined with my itchy keyboard fingers and a couple of spare hours to create what you see now: Ten movie releases from 2017 so far, each conveniently (and poorly) summarised in ten words. That means lots of those two things I hate to fall back on. Desperate times, people.

Fun times though. I suppose mild spoilers may follow.
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The Great Wall

Fire Emblem with even more colourcoding, exposition and death.”

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Logan

The Last of UsMutant EditionAvoid if feeling down.”

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Movie Review: Suicide Squad

Look at me, writing about things.

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Starring:
Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto
Director:
David Ayer (Street Kings, Fury)
Rating: M

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Well OK then.

As the first DC Comics movie of a post Batman v Superman world, Suicide Squad had a bit of heavy lifting to do. It had to prove that this dark and morbid (well, compared to Marvel’s) Warner Bros shared universe is capable of having some fun. It had to introduce a handful of characters that will no doubt be important later. And in a superhero-drenched blockbuster movie climate, it had to justify its existence by doing something different. Its success in these efforts is… limited. Which side of the “character vs plot” scale you tend to lean towards will probably be hugely influential in how much you enjoy the chaotic movie.

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Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse

Had to sit on this review for a while to give it some thought, and that ended up making it a long one.

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Starring:
James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac
Director:
Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men)
Rating: M
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Well, it turns out that couldn’t last.

The X-Men movies continue to exist, for better or worse, as the only discernible remnant of the superhero movie scene pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe. The way they have always done things sits somewhere between DC Comics’ macabre big screen blockbusters and the MCU’s lighter escapades, boasting an embarrassment of riches in the character department to mine for both humour and drama. When the movies are good, they feel like giant middle fingers to the critics who think there are too many superhero movies kicking around these days. When they’re bad, they tend to become the easiest targets for said critics, as at their core they tend to feel extraneous and disposable.

X-Men Apocalypse isn’t a bad movie, but it is the worst X-Men film since X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and as an X-Men fan first and foremost within the superhero movie realm, that stings a little.

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Movie Review: Captain America – Civil War

Oh look, another movie pitting superheroes against one another. I wonder how this one will go…

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Starring:
Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan
Director:
Anthony & Joe Russo (Welcome to Collinwood, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Rating: M
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The only “complete” Marvel comic book story (if such a thing exists) that I have read to this day is Civil War, a seven-part 2006/07 series that was given to me as a gift a couple of years ago. A positively gigantic event, the series divided literally hundreds of Marvel characters down an explosive ideological line – one side led by Tony Stark/Iron Man, in favour of regulating superhero activity to safeguard against massive collateral damage – the other by Steve Rogers/Captain America, unable to reconcile his desire to do good with the politics he feels would impede true justice. When Kevin Feige announced that Marvel Studios would be doing an adaptation of sorts a couple of years ago, I was skeptical of the project, and I wasn’t alone. How could they possibly do justice to the expansive, universe-shattering story with so few established characters in their stable?

As it turns out, the film version of Civil War, appropriately prefixed as Captain America: Civil War, is such a loose adaptation of that comic that the argument is moot. Sure, there are nods to the structure of the original, but what the movie actually turns out to be is primarily a story about Captain America (the still-amazing Chris Evans) and the closest relationships in his life, and on that front, it succeeds spectacularly. It also has some pretty cool supporting characters, and almost all of them add to the sheer fun of the spectacle. Though Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a more focused film, returning directors Joe and Anthony Russo have now proved that they can handle much bigger casts with aplomb, resulting in a sequel that is almost as good as its predecessor, and noticeably fresher than Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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