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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire review

Godzilla x Kong

Following the events of Godzilla vs. Kong, two of the world’s favorite monster heroes are back for a new fight in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire from Warner Brothers.

Godzilla vs Kong introduced many of us to the theory of Hollow Earth which has been around since, I believe, the 1950s. It was an absolutely fascinating subject to deep dive on and that film explained it in a way that made it actually make sense. Warner Brothers has taken us back to Hollow Earth with Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Kong is believed to be the last of his kind and being a social creature is very lonely. While he remains there, Godzilla protects the surface world from threats and if Kong were to return would become very territorial and unleash hell on the ape.

A spike in interference signals a request for help and some of our returning heroes from the previous film decide to travel back to Hollow Earth and look for who or what is putting out the signal that they believe is an SOS. The transition between the outer Earth and the Hollow is an interesting effect that can tear the psyche and done with some fantastic visuals.

The film is listed as an Action-Adventure story but has some heartfelt moments between some of the characters. The visual effects are absolutely stunning and if you’re watching just for the destruction, I’m happy to report there is a TON of it. Even a little monster-dental work thrown in early on. The story is well written, leaning on the lore of the previous films and tying them all together quite nicely. The characters were fun with some quality portrayals even though the dialogue is a little campy at times, as I expected with this type of film. Overall I thought it was the best of the four films in the series (including Kong Island) and had a great time watching it.

Skeler Boy from Ratalaika Games

Skeler Boy

Inspired by horror classics like, The Shining or The Exorcist, Skeler Boy is a tale of the lengths a teen will go to rescue his love in the latest title from Ratalaika Games!

Originally released on pc/steam by Maniac Studio and as of today, the team at Ratalaika Games have brought it over to consoles for our enjoyment. Skeler Boy is a tale of young love and the lengths our hero Skeler will go in order to save his girlfriend Megan. Currently the developers are working on editions that will be playable on both Gameboy and NES, but also currently working on the sequel. Oddly according to the Kickstarter that ended in 2021, both the Gameboy and NES versions have already been made. Perhaps they mean official release versions that are for others that didn’t participate in the Kickstarter? Time will tell on that one. What is surprising is that from this original release I couldn’t find any reviews. Literally the only mentions from that time simply refer to the status of the crowdfunding. This means I’ll be doing this one old school without knowledge of the things to watch out for and diving right in. The game starts you in a forest looking for Megan with your first real clue being a mysterious audio message.

Visually the game looks like it would fit as a classic SNES title, similar to many of the ports we’ve seen from Ratalaika. The game makes superb use of lighting which is essential for a great horror game. The game is filled with puzzles, many of which require a bit of thought before figuring them out and I expect to find many more along the way. There’s even a lockpicking section that seems like it is a bit on the realistic side and makes me wonder if it can really be this easy with the right tools? Maybe the designer has some real life experience there? The controls are easy to pickup, at least they are on Xbox, I haven’t tried on other systems so I can’t speak to them. Overall gameplay transitions between different views and how you interact with the puzzles making for a more engaging experience. Over the course of the hour I played it felt like I got quite far in the game and I expect that most player will wrap this one up within 5 hours or less. Overall it was a solid experience that uses a great deal of variety and ambiance to it’s advantage. Definitely has me curious about the pending sequel, hopefully this one will release simultaneously on the consoles at the same time.

The First Omen by 20th Century Studios

The First Omen

The First Omen is the latest installment in the Omen franchise from 20th Century Studios and takes a stap at the origins of the tale.

The First Omen is a prequel to the Omen franchise from 20th Century Studios focusing on a branch of the church completing unspeakable acts to maintain control. The story centers on Margaret, a young woman with a history of hallucinations, on her path to taking her vows and assisting with work at an orphanage. There she meets a young girl named Carlita who seems to be troubled. Noticing similarities in their experiences she feels a bond with her and works to guide her to help her work through her troubles in a more productive way. Soon after a man by the name of Father Brennan approaches her to voice concerns about who Carlita really is and sets her on a path where she begins to question everything.

Having never seen The Omen or it’s many spinoffs I was still away of the general concept, the church raising the Antichrist and the evil surrounding him. Going into the film mostly blind I was unaware of the intentions the church may or may not have had and as it is explained in the first few minutes it became apparent that we were in for one hell of a ride. More often than not when a prequel is made of a horror film from the 70s or 80s it comes out a bit on the cheesy side and that’s exactly what I was expecting. I was quite impressed with the quality of the acting and more importantly the storytelling. It was surprisingly good and makes me curious to see the other films in the series.

Late Night With the Devil from IFC

Late Night With the Devil 

Late Night With the Devil is a found footage horror film from the team at IFC.

Sometimes there is a film that the trailers just resonate with you and make you really want to see it. In these instances you can’t help but have high expectations despite knowing nothing about the team behind it. Late Night With the Devil was one of those films for me. The film starts with some of the history of the late show that is the backdrop for nearly the entire story. It’s a difficult road when you want to beat the masters at their own game and that was exactly what Jack Delroy aims to do with his show with Johnny Carson as the standard to beat.

Playing the ratings game he fights for his place on the televisions of viewers every night. Due to personal tragedy he sees some spikes, presumably due to sympathy but it’s not enough. David Dastmalchian plays Jack Delroy and his performance is downright brilliant. I’ve seen many of his roles and he’s usually great but this performance is in a league of it’s own. Written and Directed by Colin and Cameron Cairnes, this film is downright fantastic. Not just as a horror film but a film in general. I was glued to the screen from start to finish, drawn in instantly and even though I expected the twists when they came it did not detract from the experience in any way. As I mentioned, my expectations were high for this film and for lack of a better phrase, this film is simply fan-fucking-tastic and not only worth the watch but worth a second and third just to look for the hidden clues throughout the production. I wanted to thank the folks at IFC for sharing this film with us and look forward to seeing what else this team comes up with.

Rainbow Cotton is back from ININ!

Rainbow Cotton

The witch with the pink hair is back in ININ’s rails shooter Rainbow Cotton and is cuter than ever!

The young witch named Cotton has returned in Rainbow Cotton from ININ Games. Monsters are coming to eat the candy made by adorable faeries and they have called on Cotton for assistance. The game is a rails shooter, that was originally released in Japan in 2001, with Cotton riding a broom and blasting foes away with star filled spells and hexes.

Controls are extremely simple, relying on very little. One stick controls her placement on the screen where the other controls your targeting reticle for you to endlessly fire on your enemies. Where it seems a majority of games follow more of an 8 or 16 bit art pallet, this game holds to its roots on the Sega Dreamcast and even though it hasn’t really changed graphically it stands out as having far superior graphics in the nostalgia age of gaming. Rail shooters are also something I rarely see these days and even without the nostalgia factor it is nice to experience the playstyle. There are so few of these that it feels like a refreshing change of pace.

Overall, the game is adorable, has a touch of nostalgia, is simple to play and a refreshing joy in a world of unimaginative platformers that seek to cash in on our desire of playing something that reminds us of the good days.

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 The Princess from Another World

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 The Princess from Another World

Cyber Citizen Shockman is back for the final installment in the trilogy from Ratalaika Games with The Princess from Another World!

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 was originally released in 1992 and has been resurrected by Ratalaika Games for current gen consoles. After winning the lottery and taking a much needed vacation, our two heroes, Arnold and Sonya, are forced to turn back into Shockman and defeat an alien threat that has ruined their vacation. This starts players on a side-scrolling adventure that looks and feels like they are still in the 90’s.

The game looks and feels like you are playing some of the run and gun classics from 90’s and looks like the continuation of the Cyber Citizen Shockman franchise that it is. For those that are new to the franchise it feels like a classic Mega-Man side scroller but without the thematic bosses who share a name with their power. The bosses in this game border on the extreme in difficulty compared to the stages themselves. This time around the gameplay is less sticky, meaning much smoother controls and animations. Which is great because in the first two installments I felt like I died more to incomplete jumps than anything else.

The game does lean towards feeling tedious as you press on between the difficult bosses and the repetitive gameplay. Visuals hit that nostalgic itch as does the gameplay itself and the story is humorous at times but not enough to keep me engaged long term.

American Sniper in 4k

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, the most lethal snipe in American history in American Sniper from Warner Brothers.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Warner Brothers, American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle. Chris is a member of the Navy Seals where he earned himself the nickname, “Legend” with over 150 confirmed kills. Originally released in 2014, the film is finally being released in 4k. The film follows him through one of his four tours in Iraq and the time following with his family leading until his death in 2013.

Typically war films, especially modern ones, typically don’t hold much interest for me but Eastwood’s style of storytelling keeps you glued to the screen. What he does really well is breathing life into his characters that normally would be more bland for the screen. This is done so subtly that you find yourself connecting with characters you normally wouldn’t.

Eastwood’s visual storytelling is fantastic and watching this film 10 years after it’s release proves that it holds up just as well. I was halfway through the film before I realized that this wasn’t a new biopic. The acting is believable and the story is incredibly well told.

Dune Part Two review

Dune

The team behind Dune are back with Part Two, completing the adaptation of the first book of the same name by Warner Brothers.

Paul Atreides is back and this time is no longer fighting for his place among the Fremen in Dune Part Two from Warner Brothers. Playing into the hands of his mother and the prophecy she is trying to force into reality, he begins to leads guerrilla style attacks on the Harkonnen forces stationed on the planet. The end goal is to eliminate the threat entirely and retake his place at the head of his Great House and of the planet.

Prior to this version of the story we had multiple attempts at adapting the book, first a movie that included Sting in the cast and a series produced for the Syfy network. Each adaptation more accurate than the last and the two most recent films are not an exception to that. Where these adaptations consistently miss is on the same point, the story is more than just the first book of Frank Herbert’s series. So far only time will tell if the current vision will include the rest of the films but I sincerely hope that they do. Chapterhouse Dune and Heretics of Dune were by far my favorite installments in the main series.

Visually, these two films are an absolute treat, capturing the world of Dune better than any medium outside the books have done. Sufficient time was given to developing the myths within the story that it didn’t rely on the knowledge of the books before watching and the cast did a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life. My only complaint is that the film was made as two films instead of one long epic viewing. I would have gladly sat for the 5-ish hours needed to watch in its entirety as that is the only way this story should be viewed. Would just need an intermission to hit the restroom. Doing this would have allowed the impact of the film to be better felt where coming into the second half of the story means it feels a little disjointed.

Lunar Lander Beyond from Atari

Lunar Lander Beyond

From arcade to remaster, Lunar Lander Beyond is the latest Atari title to recreated from the ground up by Dreams Uncorporated!

Lunar Lander Beyond is the latest game to get the remastered, re-energized, polished treatment from Atari, with the help of Dreams Uncorporated. The Beyond moniker is similar to the Recharged titles, but has gone even further. It’s like playing a brand new game with the same base mechanics instead of just improving the graphics. We are even given a fully animatic cinematic experience with the gameplay, adding to the world beyond any of the previous reborn titles from Atari. Seriously, this looks and feels like it was designed from the ground up.

Sometimes you play a game and swear up and down you were playing a different title. I have memories of watching my father play Lunar Lander on our Atari back in the 80’s and him kicking my ass at it too. Looking at pictures of games from that time it’s clear that my memories have been of Gravitar after all. Memory can be a funny thing. Again, looking at the pictures it’s clear I have no memory of playing the original, despite my original claim in our review video about the game. Thankfully some followers straightened me out on that and I apologize to anyone that I confused or unintentionally misled there. Compared to the title I thought I had played, this game felt exactly like my memories of that but this time I’m at least more skilled than I was about 40 years ago. The original title was released only in arcades in 1979 and never (at least as far as my research can confirm) released on the Atari itself.

The cinematic visuals are absolutely stunning and feel like you’re watching a cyberpunk-themed anime. Game play is difficult if you are heavy handed like myself and require a lot of finesse. I typically hate games that require a gentle touch but found myself having a lot of fun. The production quality definitely helped with that.

The Beekeeper from Warner Brothers

The Beekeeper

Warner Brothers have released their latest action film, The Beekeeper, staring Jason Statham, Jeremy Irons and Josh Hutcherson.

The Beekeeper is the latest action film from Warner Brothers with Jason Statham as the lead and dominating nearly every scene he is in. The film starts with him retired from his years of service and now as a Beekeeper, literally. He helps his neighbor by removing a wasp nest and is more than happy to do so as they are a threat to his hives. Shortly after he leaves, the neighbor receives an alarming message on her computer and is coerced into giving her financial data to a group of scam artists who empty all of her accounts including a charity she works for. Seeing no way to recover the funds she ends her life. Later Adam, Statham’s character, returns with a jar of honey and finds her dead. He starts a one man rampage targeting the group that caused her to end her life, first by burning the building they worked out of to the ground.

The group he worked for was also known as the Beekeepers. Their creation was to protect the society, or hive, as a whole and were given the training to complete their mission how they saw fit. In an actual hive there are designated bees that are known as the Queen Killer with the sole purpose of eliminating a queen that spawned inadequate offspring. That’s basically him. This is important for the story later on.

When I saw trailers for the film I thought it was going to be a mindless action flick without much in the way of story and really was more of a story for the sake of violence. Like most actions films these days. I was not expecting a film of this depth, looking at society as a whole, an officer having to look at their own roles and coming to terms with discovering which is more important- their own desires or their service to the job. Honestly, there are even more layers of depth to the film but I’m not going into all of the aspects. Even when on his rampage, Adam focuses on the people that are really the problem and not those that are having to work for them. Overall I thought the film was fantastic and quite impressed how well they were able to film the violence in a believable way without making it unnecessarily gory. Even when a guy had his fingers sawed off there was virtually no blood. This could be viewed as a detractor from realism but it really aided the story in allowing you to focus more on the story and action than on the blood splatter that tends to draw your attention away. I had an absolute blast watching the film and look forward to seeing what else this team is capable of.