Assassin’s Creed Review 

assRebels, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, or resistance members. All have at times throughout history used questionable methods, even terrorism, assassinations etc. to further their goals. Who are the good guys when those opposed to oppression kill without discrimination? That question has been at the core of my fascination with the Assassin’s Creed videogame series. “Nothing is true… Everything is premitted” is the Creed. The Assassins make no excuses for their utter lack of morals. Their sworn enemies are the Templars, who while claiming the moral high ground are just as shady, and they want to rule the world.

The games are far from perfect, and some are even unplayable, but they all have a hint of that pure awesomeness found in the first game. I feel it most strongly when wandering through a crowd, approaching the target exactly as planned, before striking quickly and efficiently and then disappearing without a trace. It seemed almost impossible not to make a badass movie out of it, and yet somehow they managed to take everything bad from the games, and leave very little of the good stuff in.

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Arrival review

arrivalThe Star Trek series Deep Space Nine was recently added to our local Netflix. Having not watched it since it came out on dvd after it aired, I was eager to get lost in it again. During the first episode (which is a great first episode) there were some surprising similarities between the aliens known as “prophets” and certain aliens I experienced just a day prior at the cinema.

Arrival is being hailed as one of the best sci-fi movies of the year, the decade, even of all time. I’ve seen people gush this movie to pieces, so my expectations were very high. The film, however, doesn’t really need hype. It’s not a “hypeable” film for me. Afterwards, as people stood in groups outside the cinema, you didn’t hear a lot of excitement. Instead people were talking about the ideas the film explored. Arrival is that very rare thing: a movie complicated enough to make people want to debate heavy concepts, gracious enough not to talk down to its audience, and yet completely accessible to the average movie-goer.

Spoilers below!

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Dr. Strange review

strangeA photographic memory, a complicated personality, 177A Blecker street, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Which genius literary hero am I speaking of? It’s Dr. Steven Strange, the charming, flirtatious, magical doctor, played, as the universe dictates, by the equally charming Mr. Cumberbatch.

Marvel continues to stretch their opening logo-time with each success, showing off the status of their brand. They have every reason to gloat, and Dr. Strange does nothing to change that. But, does it enhance the brand? Does it lie in that good second-tier Marvel shelf, along with Ant-Man and Thor, or does it stretch up to that top shelf to be remembered among the Guardians, Winter Soldier and Thor (I’m conflicted, ok?). Read below to get my take on the shelving of Dr. Strange.

SPOILERS BELOW

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Kongens Nei – The King’s No

kongensneiIt might be strange for Americans, who fought a war to get rid of a king, to learn that Norwegians voted one in after gaining their independence peacefully. Since 1905, when Norway left the union with Sweden, our kings have been a source of pride, patriotism and fondness. This is useful in that we can all hate on our politicians as much as we like. During the Second World War King Haakon VII was used by many as a symbol of resistance against the Nazi occupation.

The King’s No is perhaps the story that cemented this sentiment in the Norwegian people. It adds as much action and epic patriotism as it can, without sacrificing too much history on the alter of Hollywood. The result is something between a History Channel reenactment (with a budget) and a biographical look into a foreign prince who became a democratically elected king.

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The Legend of Tarzan

tarzanPosterI was never a great fan of Disney’s Tarzan. The songs and animation are outstanding, but the film can be quite annoying whenever it forgets its purpose, which is often. Tarzan is an iconic character, and like many such characters he has been reshaped from the book version into a more fixed idea in pop culture. The classic shout, for example, is from an earlier live action film. It’s surprising it took this long for us to get a modern remake, but perhaps not if we look at the success (or lack thereof) of similar properties.

The local reaction to the new films has been a lot of “meh”, and the cinema was almost empty when I finally got there this weekend. Someone called it an empty action flick, which I think is an unfair assessment. But, as I always try to expose my biases, I tend to be far more forgiving on these types of adventure films than most (see: John Carter, Prince of Persia, etc)

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) stars Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan, and is set about eight years after Tarzan and Jane (Margot Robbie) have left Africa to live as Lord and Lady Greystoke in London. They are called back to Africa by the invitation of King Leopold of Belgium to see his great progress in the Congo. Those with a overview knowledge of history will know this is a load of crap. The King’s agent in the Belgian Congo, Leo Rom (Christoph Waltz), has other plans for Tarzan.

The below review will contain minor spoilers.

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Independence Day on Brexit Day

independence-day-resurgenceToday I watched the news as Britain declared their “independence day”. I then went to the cinema to watch a movie about the whole world coming together, putting aside their petty grievances, and defeating a real threat to earth. No one can predict what will happen as we live through these interesting times, but I’m pretty sure I can predict that Independence Day: Resurgence won’t last long in cinemas.

I’m coming at this film with nostalgia goggles at coke bottle thickness. I was ten when I first saw it, at a time when nothing like it had been seen before. I’m sure many of my generation remember the absolute awe at seeing the White House destroyed in the promos. Could a movie even do that? When our dad installed a new sound system a few years later, we knew exactly which movie we wanted to test it with, because the sound of those ships coming overhead was seared into our brains. Thankfully, I wasn’t all that hyped for the sequel. Considering the too-late-sequels and reboots we’ve gotten over the years, absolutely nothing could get my hopes up.

I’m not going to whine about how this ruined the old film’s legacy, because it wasn’t offensively bad by any stretch. But there is really no way around the fact that the sequel fails to live up to the original. There were certainly moments I liked. There was some great design here and there. I had a few laughs not based on referencing old material, but it wasn’t enough. The movie doesn’t work as an Independence Day sequel, and it doesn’t work as a sci-fi destruction-porn movie.

What follows below has ALL the spoilers, because I want to explain exactly what I mean.

SPOILERS

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Captain America: Civil War

teamsvscivilwarposterAfter the belly flop of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I wasn’t feeling very confident in comic book movies. There were a few reasons to maintain my optimism. In my ranking of favourite comic book movies, I think Marvel holds at least five top spots. Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t anything to jump for joy about, but it kept the pace up, and introduced new interesting characters. Still, I was feeling more than a little apprehensive. Would Marvel’s incredible franchise finally crumble? Would my interest finally exhaust itself? No, and hell no, are the short answers.

The story of Civil War unfolds organically. The Avengers are under metaphorical fire from the international community after several civilians were killed and injured during an incident in Lagos. The US government, along with 116 other countries, want to put the Avengers under the control of the UN through the “Sokovia Accords”. Lines are drawn between those who sign the agreement, and those who want to remain independent. At the same time, Bucky, aka the Winter Soldier, is being targeted.

The review contains some spoilers

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