Series Review: Dragon’s Dogma – Season 1 (2020)

I love animation. I love video games. So the two smashed together should be heaven, right? Right? Why are you so quiet?

Ladies and gents… “Dragon’s Dogma” season 1.

Ethan (Greg Chun) lives a nice, relatively quiet life with his wife. This peace doesn’t last however when the entire town is destroyed and Ethan’s heart gets eaten by a giant dragon. Shortly after our hero finds himself resurrected by a mysterious magical lady (Erica Mendez), and vows to find and slay the dragon that ruined his life. It’s a mostly classic fantasy/revenge setup with elements that we’ve seen before. Where it tries to stand out somewhat though is in its storytelling… keyword being tried. The idea with each episode is that as Ethan travels the country in search of the big spooky lizard, he encounters different monsters and situations mirroring the seven deadly sins (which can even be seen in each episode title). And while they have some wonderful ideas for how that will work, I feel like they undercooked this heart steak a bit. While the show’s fast pace keeps it from getting too stale, it does hurt the storytelling. Nothing really gets to simmer. They have interesting developments and ideas within each episode, but I never feel as invested as I could be given the interesting subject matter. So instead of getting the nuanced fantasy narrative that I know the crew’re striving for, we get a story that never reaches its full potential, bar one thing in the final episode.

Where the story does falter… the characters don’t do much to help. I will say that Ethan, our main protagonist, does have some interesting stuff going on. Each episode we see some mild developments on his side, and it does make him a somewhat compelling character. And Greg Chun does a great job with his voice work there. Then we have the pawn (also known as Hannah), the mysterious magical lady I mentioned earlier who resurrected Ethan. She is a little bit of a blank slate, only there to serve as a somewhat logic-driven sidekick to Ethan. There is great potential with her character, but it’s never fully achieved. At least Erica Mendez does a good job with her performance. The rest of the cast aren’t necessarily as great though, because most of them attempt some form of British accent (‘ullo gov’nah), with a majority sadly falling flat on their face.

The score for the show was composed by Tadayoshi Makino, and I think his music here is great. It is of course based in a lot of the brass, strings, and piano we have heard in fantasy before. But Makino puts his own spin on it to some degree, making for a score that is exciting, emotional, and ear candy of the highest degree.

Based on the 2012 video game from Capcom, “Dragon’s Dogma” was animated by studio Sublimation for Netflix, with Shinya Sugai handling direction. Aaaaaand I have mixed feelings. Lookign at the overall shot composition, you can tell that these guys have a good eye, there’s a lot of good “camera” movements and nice ideas for stills. This is however brought down by the studio’s choice to go with a pseudo 3D style of animation. Now, in the few instances I’ve seen this styles pop up in other things, it hasn’t been very good. And while it certainly looks slightly less shit than some other instances of this weird 2D/3D amalgamation, it still doesn’t work. All the characters look lifeless dolls, and movements look really janky. This is almost even worse with some of the creatures in this show, who get these pretty murky textures draped over them, which makes them look really bad. There are moments of good animation however. Fleeting moments of regular, hand-drawn 2D animation. And it’s a shame that these are such brief moments, because those instances look amazing. But overall, the animation here isn’t great.

This show’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a critic rating of 100%, but an audience rating of 50%. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.3/10.

While it has a lot of potential for greatness, Netflix’s “Dragon’s Dogma” sadly doesn’t live up to the potential. It has a mediocre plot, okay characters, good acting, great music, and bad animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dragon’s Dogma” is a 4.89/10. So sadly I’d have to recommend skipping it.

My review of “Dragon’s Dogma” is now completed.

Hopefully the game’s better…

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

Watch Dogs Legion E3 2019 Trailer

I promise, some day soon, I’ll stop writing E3 posts. But for now… MORE E3 BULLSHIT, WEEEEEE!

So through E3, legendary video game developer Ubisoft has revealed “Watch Dogs Legion”, which is the third game in the action franchise. The first one was about a lonely hacker seeking revenge. The second one I never played, but looks to be about some hackerific street gang. And this one is apparently about a near-future London that is under a totalitarian rule, and you have to use your hacking skills in combination with a sense of resistance to unfuck Great Britain. Two things:
1. I’m excited to see a major open world title set in a British environment for once… no reason, just fun to get away from the states or wastelands a bit.
2. Did Guy Ritchie write this fucking trailer? Because I’m getting very “Snatch”-seque vibes from it.
Either way, this looks to be interesting. I enjoyed the first “Watch Dogs”, even though I recognize that it has a fair bit of flaws. And people tell me that the sequel is even better. So who know, maybe third time’s the charm? “Watch Dogs Legion” is set to be released March 6th 2020.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Watch Dogs Legion”? And fuck it… what’s your favorite Guy Ritchie movie? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy.

Marvel’s Avengers E3 2019 Trailer

Hello there. Time for more E3 stuff. So let’s… Assemble.

So thanks to E3, we finally have our first look/reveal of “Marvel’s Avengers”, an upcoming story-driven single player action game about… The fucking Avengers, I don’t need to explain who they are, their box office takings speak for themselves. So what’s happening here then? Well, shit goes awry, and the team has to save the world. And while I can’t say much, since there’s no real gameplay here, I do find this reveal a bit… bland, like they’re playing it safe. They lean into the aesthetics of the movies, and it all in general looks… meh. “Spider-Man”, the excellent Playstation 4 game released last year, shows that you can take established stuff and do something unique with it. And unless Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics gives us something more enticing in the near future, I will file this one under… meh. “Marvel’s Avengers” is set to be released on all major consoles on May 15th, 2020.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Marvel’s Avengers”? And what’s your favorite movie based on a Marvel comic? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy.

Cyberpunk 2077 E3 2019 Trailer

Hello there, ladies and gents. It is that time of year again. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 for short) has started, which means I will ramble on about various trailers and gameplay demos and such shown in there. So let’s kick it the fuck off with this first one.

So first up, here’s a trailer for “Cyberpunk 2077”, an upcoming sci-fi game from CD Projekt Red, a game developer most known for the mostly acclaimed “Witcher” series. It’s the year 2077, and you play as a dude or gal who has to navigate this cyberpunk world and complete some quests to advance a story. That’s all we (read: the idiot who wrote this piece) know right now. And this doesn’t show off any gameplay, just a bit of story. And it seems interesting. Maybe a bit of potential revenge, a bit of seedy underworld dealings, a bit of HOLY SHIT, KEANU REEVES. Yeah, that’s what sold me on talking about this trailer. I only really wanted to talk about it because it’s a trailer for a video game… featuring one of my favorite actors (who is having one hell of a year, by the way). I didn’t have much interest in it. But the cyberpunk stuff here had me somewhat intrigued, and then Keanu hooked me. Yes, I am that shallow sometimes. “Cyberpunk 2077” is set to be released on April 26th, 2020.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you excited for “Cyberpunk 2077”? And what’s your favorite sci-fi dystopia? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer.

While You Wait: Game of Thrones

Hello there, and welcome to a new thing. Not sure it it’ll be a recurring series, but if this gets a good response, then it might. Any way, hello everyone. With the final season of HBO megahit “Game of Thrones” arriving in less than two weeks, fan are eagerly anticipating it. But until then, some might be asking themselves what they could watch to tide them over until then. Well, I’m here to perhaps help with that in some regard, by giving you some personal recommendations for things that could maybe fill that void in some respect. And if you don’t give a shit about “Game of Thrones”, then you’ll at least have a few recommendations for things to experience. So let’s go.

This is While You Wait: Game of Thrones edition.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (New Line Cinema, 2001 – 2003)

This entry should come as no surprise in the slightest. Big, epic fantasy with a grandiose story, a stellar cast, and tons of detail in props and filmmaking. Look, I am aware that this and “Game of Thrones” are very different in tone… style… language… amount of tits, but still, can’t talk about relevant recommendations for a major fantasy thing without mentioning another one.

Westworld (HBO Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, 2016 – now)

While we’re talking about one major HBO series, we might as well talk about another one. “Westworld”, based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton, is a series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and follows a theme park that is built up like a giant wild west world (Hence, “Westworld”). But as expected, things may or may not go awry (wouldn’t be a show otherwise). Let’s see, big sweeping story (check), A-list cast (check), Ramin Djawadi making music (check), budget higher than what any of us make in a year (check), violence (check), naked people (super check)… yeah, this has a shitload in common with “GoT”, so that’s why I recommend it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks, 2011)

That’s right, there be video games on this list too. Released in 2011, “Skyrim” was the fifth mainline game in the “Elder Scrolls” series. In times of great political turmoil, you play as a character that almost gets executed, but gets “saved” by a giant dragon attacking the city that you’re in. And it doesn’t take long for you to find out that you’re Dragonborn, a mighty warrior destined to slay dragons and steal their souls. Political tensions, various factions doing their own shit within the kingdoms, epic fantasy, DRAGONS. Need I say more as to why a “Thrones” fan might want to play this? It’s not one of my favorites, but I still feel like it’s a good recommendation for fans of “GoT” who might want to get some game time in.

Berserk (OLM Inc, 1997 – 1998)

And now we move into something a bit older, but is a bit more of a recent watch for me. “Berserk” is a 1997 anime series based on a manga series of the same name by Kentaro Miura. It follows a highly capable swordsman named Guts as he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk, after its leader, Griffith, defeats Guts in combat. And so Guts, along with Griffith, and the other members of the group fight their way through the kingdom of Midland. And we do also get to see how Guts and Griffith’s actions affects the political climate in the kingdom, as well as how their bond evolves over the series. So it has both the big battles and political element of “GoT”, and it has the brutality of it… come to think of it, “Berserk” is probably even more brutal (and the series is allegedly very toned down compared to the original manga). Just a few details first… Skip episode one. I’m not kidding, skip it. It’s not even related to anything going on in the show, as it’s set after everything that happens. Maybe come back to it after finishing the other 24 episodes. And secondly, the ending (which I won’t fully spoil) has been a bit polarizing for people… and that’s all. Other than that, “Berserk” is great.

The Expanse (Alcon entertainment, 2016 – now)

So how do we go from high fantasy to sci-fi? Well, like in “Game of Thrones”, you can find a lot of political tension and character development in “The Expanse”. Set hundreds of years into the future, we follow various characters as they try to deal with their various situations while navigating the very dangerous political tensions between Earth and Mars. Need even more proof that this show is the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi? It has been called the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi by a fair amount of people. And I thank Amazon for picking it up after SyFy cancelled it.

Gladiator (Scott Free Productions, Univeral Pictures, 2000)

Epic battles, political intrigue (again), charismatic cast, big budget… do I really need to explain why Ridley Scott’s epic Oscar winner is one of the recommendations on this list? You all know why it is here.

The Dark Souls trilogy (FromSoftware, 2011 – 2016)

More video game goodness, and oh god, the traumatic flashbacks are rolling in. Admittedly I’ve only played the third game in the series, but based on my “enjoyment” of that, and the critical acclaim of the rest of the series, I feel confident in recommending them all. You play as a silent (not counting offs and ahs) protagonist who goes on quests that lead you across dark world where you’ll encounter strange creatures, interesting people, and pain… lots and lots of pain. It’s dark fantasy at it’s most bird-flipping. People love these games for their difficulty, and I do kind of appreciate the challenge from my playthrough(s) of the third game. Funnily enough, as I recommend this for “Thrones” reasons, these games take heavy inspiration from another thing on this list… that thing being “Berserk”.

The Revenant (Regency Enterprises, 21st Century Fox, 2015)

Ah yes, the 2015 movie that finally gave Leo his Oscar… and all it took was dragging himself through the dirt after getting his shit kicked in by a bear. Betrayal, brutality, cold, stellar acting, a gritty tone, these are things that make this movie good and also help make some of the “GoT” comparison a bit more valid.

The Godfather trilogy (Paramount Pictures, 1972 – 1990)

Now, how can I compare possible the most prolific gangster series of all time to one of the biggest tv shows of all time? Well, both are grand, sweeping, epic stories about family, legacy, and ruling over a kingdom of sorts. Some from an uncomfortable and pointy chair, and some in dark rooms in the mid-century United States. And yes, I am recommending all of them. The third movie is a huge step down from the first two, but it still has its moments.

Castlevania (Powerhouse Animation, Netflix, 2017 – now)

And for our final entry, let’s go a bit lighter. Don’t get me wrong, this show is dark, but at least it is allowed to get a bit over the top with its action. Based on the hit video game series, “Castlevania” follows Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last member of a long line of vampire hunters, as he reluctantly has to try to kill the king of all vampires… Dracula (Graham McTavish). Start with an epic fantasy, end with another. The animation is stellar, the plot engaging, and the characters very well realized. And to any stubborn people out there: This is a cartoon, not an anime. It may have some anime stylings, but it was entirely produced in the United States… so it’s a cartoon. But for those not stubborn: Watch this show, it’s great.

So those were some of my personal recommendations for those “Game of Thrones” fans wanting something to tide them over until April 14th, or maybe if something’s needed to fill the gap after the show ends. But I also ask of all of you, what other recommendations do you have that could fit this thing? Movie, show, book, game… any of them, I’m all ears.
Have a good one.

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 2 (2018)

I am so excited to write about this. Partly because it’s another Month of Spooks review, and partly because I’ve been looking forward to season 2 of this show for over a year. And now we’re here, ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 2!

Picking up very shortly after the end of season 1, we once again follow Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) on his quest to find and take down Dracula (Graham McTavish). But this time he’s not alone, as he’s joined on this quest by sorceress Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso), as well as Dracula’s own son, Alucard (James Callis). So now we have our vampiric plot. And I thought the plot here was great. The first season already set up a good enough plot/foundation, but it was a bit on the short side with only four episodes. This time we have eight episodes, which means you can let things develop a bit more, which works very well for the show as I found this plot entertaining, compelling, exciting, and just overall really well told. It even managed to tug at my heartstrings a bit. Great stuff.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, really interesting, and also pretty entertaining. First up we have Richard Armitage returning as Trevor Belmont, the last member of the legendary Belmont clan. He’s kind of a sarcastic asshole, but not to a degree where I utterly dislike him, as you can tell that a lot of this comes from his broken life. Also, it’s just entertaining to see him play off of the other characters a bit. And Armitage does a great job with the role. Alejandra Reynoso returns as Sypha, a scholar and sorceress that has joined Trevor on his quest. She’s a tough-as-nails lady that is also smart, charming, and just generally interesting. And despite an accent that is weird and inconsistent, Reynoso does a really good job in the role. Next we have James Callis as Alucard, the half-vampire son of Dracula. He had a good life that then turned to shit after something happened that, and now years later he of course wants to take down his own father. Alucard is a clever, badass, fun, and just overall interesting character that I love seeing at the forefront like this. And Callis is great in the role. And finally have Graham McTavish returning as Dracula, this time having a much more prominent role than in season 1. He’s a tragic figure who has understandable motivations, but extreme methods, and I think he’s one of the most interesting villains in recent years. And McTavish is fantastic in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like Theo James, Peter Stormare, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Emily Swallow, Matt Frewer, Jaime Murray, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris, and it is utterly fantastic. It’s big and bombastic, but it’s also subtle and contemplative. Badass, but also emotional. His score, which utilizes brass, strings, choirs, and sometimes even synth, perfectly fits into each scene and elevates it all to a whole different level.

Based on the classic video game franchise of the same name, and written by Warren Ellis, this might be the most well crafted video game adaptation of all time. It has a lot of fun nods to the games, while still working on its own if you haven’t played them. The animation here is great. The designs look great, and everything just has a crisp quality to them that I like.  And holy shit, the action scenes in this are utterly fantastic, being fast-paced, fun, badass, and brutal as all hell… so much blood. What I was a bit surprised by this season is just how funny it was. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a comedy series in the slightest, but there’s a fair bit of humor spread throughout the season, and I found it all to be really funny without taking away from the darker and more dramatic parts of the show.

The season just came out, and doesn’t have so much data on my usual sites. It exists on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but has no score as of writing this review. But on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10.

Season 2 of “Castlevania” takes what was good about the first season and ramps it up to fucking 11. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic writing/directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 2 is a 9,90/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 2 is now completed.

Best video game adaptation ever? Damn right, it is.

“Spider-Man” E3 Gameplay Demo

More E3 stuff, woo!

So thanks to E3, we have a good look at some gameplay for the upcoming “Spider-Man” game. This was announced at E3 in 2016, and now we finally have a good look at some pretty exciting gameplay. So what’s going on in this little demo? Well, we see out beloved webhead (Yuri Lowenthal) attempting to stop a prison break where he runs into several of his old foes (Sinister Six, anyone?). And this demo gives us a decent look at the combat (very reminiscent of the “Batman: Arkham” games, awesome), and at the web-swinging. Sure, a lot of this sequence seems scripted, but it’s still a good indication of how the core gameplay is. And from what I understand, this will be an open world game, so you will get to mess around with your spider powers in the big apple. And the more I see of this game, the more excited I get. Coming from Insomniac (the developer behind the excellent “Ratchet & Clank” series), I expect a lot of fun to be had, especially with a character as enjoyable as Spider-Man. So I’m pretty excited for this game. “Spider-Man” is set to be released on September 7th of this year.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you excited for “Spider-Man”? And what’s your favorite movie/show/comic/game about Marvel’s beloved webhead? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one and enjoy the video.

“The Last of Us Part 2” E3 Gameplay Reveal

Another E3 post? Another E3 post. There’ll probably be even more coming, so buckle up.

We finally have a look at some gameplay for “The Last of Us Part 2”. The game was revealed around November of 2016, and a lot of fans have been waiting to see a bit of gameplay for it ever since. Well, we finally have some thanks to E3. While I can’t say how much is scripted and how much is just legit gameplay, I can say that this looks good. It’s basically the same type of gameplay as the first game only with smoother animation, more graphical detail, and with Ellie (Ashley Johnson) taking center stage instead of Joel (Troy Baker). And if it’s just more “Last of Us”, then I am 100% up for it. The first game is one of my favorites, one of the best games to be released in the last ten years. For those unaware, “The Last of Us” is about a guy named Joel who has to escort a young girl named Ellie to a place because she’s seemingly immune to the zombie-like infection that has spread across the United States. It’s a super serious and emotionally charged journey and it packs one hell of a punch. “Part 2” picks up 5 years later aaaaaand that’s all she wrote. I wouldn’t be surprised if Naughty Dog (the developer) kept the plot under wraps until it’s released. So yeah, I’m pretty god damn excited about this. While it has no official release date, “The Last of Us Part 2” will probably be released in 2019.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “The Last of Us Part 2”? And what do you think about the first game? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the gameplay trailer.

“Kingdom Hearts 3” E3 trailer

More E3 talks comin’ your way. And if you don’t like it, then I don’t care… this is my blog, I can write about whatever I want.

So thanks to E3 we have a new trailer for “Kingdom Hearts 3”, the latest part in the strange franchise. So what does this new trailer feature? Well, we see series protagonist Sora (Haley Joel Osment, yes really) going to different Disney worlds and interacting with the characters, giving us both cutscenes and gameplay. And really, this looks like more “Kingdom Hearts”, and that’s always a good thing. It also gives us a little shocker at the end about one a character from some previous games in the series going to the dark side. So yeah… shit’s gettin’ real, yo. My only problem with this trailer is the lack of sound effects, but I suppose it will be fixed before the game actually comes out.  I am also really happy, because unlike previous trailers, this one has an actual fucking release date! After years of “In development”, we have a release date! Am I hyped? You bet your ass I’m hyped for this strange Japanese mish-mash of Disney and “Final Fantasy”. I love this franchise, and I am super excited to see it continue. “Kingdom Hearts 3” is set to be released on January 29th, 2019.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Kingdom Hearts 3”? And are you a fan of this insane franchise like I am? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer.