DC Universe Rebirth

dcrebirthFinally I managed to get a first edition copy of DC Universe Rebirth. After reading some of the new number 1’s I was eagerly anticipating reading what led to all this. Now I previously talked about how Rebirth is DC’s mea culpa to alienating readers who loved the old universe before the Flashpoint event but this is really the start of something hopefully for the better.

After reading the issue and absorbing all the little details I cannot be more excited. I am perhaps a little overly optimistic but my fingers are crossed that things go back mostly to the DC I knew and loved. Now it’s not to say the New 52 was all bad, there were standout titles such as Swamp Thing and Animal Man; but after reading this issue and reading reviews online I cannot help to agree with the major point everyone seem’s to agree on. The New 52 missed love.

It seem’s silly saying it but what made DC great was the relationships between their heroes. There was a genuine friendship between them that was tangible. New 52 seemed to be heavily inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Batman trend of grit. Characters were more gritty, angst and with more attitude. For characters like Superman this didn’t rub off very well. Not to mention they threw out the history with Lois. Now while I am sure some people would accept changes between those two such as a divorce, a complete write off pissed a lot of people off.

They seem to have delivered though and kudos to the staff at DC for this epic start. We have Wally and Barry embrace after all these years, we have The Watchmen who are now merged with the DC Universe. It was hard to imagine but giving myself ample time to reflect on it I can see a lot of cool stuff coming out of this. Watchmen has been kind of a sacred cow so it will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s definitely a bold move.

It was also nice to see all the reference to the Justice Society, Titans and The Legionnaires. I wonder if we will eventually get series based on them. I am hoping for a JSA series myself.

In all honesty though, Rebirth is a great start. The art is solid and the writing is well done. You don’t ever feel like you missed anything so it’s definitely a good starting point for readers to get into the DC Universe. It will appeal to the newer fans as well as the older fans as characters from both iterations are featured. I am sure it will bring in even some more new readers as well since the hype train seems to be going full steam ahead. I am hoping that the following Rebirth titles continue this awesome vibe that is happening.

In all I cannot recommend this title enough. We will have to wait and see if this is indeed the universe we are all hoping for but for me at least I feel like I got our heroes back.

The RPG Hub Movie Review: It Follows

It Follows is movie I read up a bit about a few weeks ago and was under the assumption It was pretty good. I went to the local video store and checked my all too favorite horror section and grabbed me a copy and I cannot help but say that I slightly regret it.

It Follows is a very, very basic horror movie cliché that a creature / thing stalks an individual and does not stop. The story revolves around a girl, Jay, who after intercourse with her date is chloroformed and tied to a chair. The boyfriend explains that he has now passed this on to her. What did he pass aside from a possible STD? Well apparently a supernatural being can now be sexually transmitted.

Ok so let’s take a moment to absorb that for a second. A supernatural being out to kill you can be sexually transmitted.

If you have had enough time to compose yourselves let us carry on. The date in question explains that this thing will not stop till she dies or passes it on like he has. With that being said he dumps her back on her front lawn and we get into the group dynamic of escaping this thing while never really understanding what it really is.

We do learn this thing takes the forms of those that people know of so it can get closer but apparently it does so in a way that nobody would ever want to get close to. An elderly relative in a nursing gown chasing you at school? Perhaps your naked mom?

Now that we have a very unsubtle supernatural entity following our leading lady, she of course decides to “pass it on” so to speak *wink wink*. Somehow though everyone she passes it on to does not last as long as she does and the entity returns to the chase. This is supposed to lead us to believe that we should be on edge throughout the movie to see if the entity will be back but we already know it will.

Eventually the gang confronts the entity and apparently defeats it but of course like all horror movie clichés we get a final scene where we see it is probably not over with yet.

I have to be really honest with you that watching the movie doesn’t seem as absurd as when you are actually trying to talk about it with someone because when you do, that is when you realize how god awful the movie is.

I like the idea of going back to the core concept of an entity / creature type coming after someone like in the old slasher days but there is literally no soul to this film whatsoever. While more classic movies would at least try to explain without divulging too much about the protagonist we literally have no motive, not one single iota of information. In a sense that is good right? Leave something for us to consider and ponder over till the sequel comes out and clarifies things but no.

The acting is very mediocre. You never particularly care about one or the other and there is no particularly huge development to them except whether or not they decide to pass the entity on which makes them morally horrible individuals for saving their own asses and condemning another to certain death.

While I was hoping that It Follows was going to be a surprise movie that I would enjoy when I actually got to see it I was sorely disappointed though highly amused. I have seen some outlandish horror movies in my time but a sexually transmitted entity is a new one for me. A positive though is that they went for a slow paced movie without rushing into action and it does have the occasional creepy vibe.

If you are simply looking for a time waster of a movie then this would be it but you could also watch a number of other scary movies out there and probably get more out of it then this one.

RPG Hub Movie Review: The Atticus Institute

Found footage movies are a dime a dozen and quite a few are not so great but I came across this particular gem by my good friend Neil during one of our hangouts. The concept of the movie seemed interesting; the Atticus Institute follows a group that studied psychic and telekinetic phenomenon in the 1970’s. While being deceived by one subject and losing focus the group comes across another promising patient but things are not what they seem to be. Soon they all discover that they are now way in over their heads where science loses out to faith.

Now while the film is found footage it is also filmed like a documentary reporting on these events that ended The Atticus Institute. I think with the sensitive materials that such a group possesses and also the involvement of the government that a documentary would probably not ever make it to fruition let alone former agents and army personnel speaking during segments.

The build is very good with you experiencing the wonder this group gets to participate in everyday and also when it fails. Finally when this new patient who has all these abilities gets into the mix you sense how on edge the institute got. While it was wonderful for some, others were uncertain and extremely fearful. Once the government gets involved when the institute reaches out for help, the pace picks up and things get even more out of hand which leads to the climatic ending.

While the build was good the filming was excellent. The team did a great job of getting the 70’s style down from clothing to equipment and then transitioning to the present day. You really felt the two distinctive era’s had their own life to it.

The acting from everyone was great and there wasn’t one person that didn’t feel out of place which tends to happen in these sorts of movies. You will also notice a lot of familiar actors & actresses from both movies and tv. It seemed all throughout the movie we were going “Hey it’s the principal from Buffy!” to “I can’t quite place him but I totally know I watched a movie or two with him in it”. It’s funny when you see people you know but you just cannot place them exactly.

The Atticus Institute is simply an awesome movie. A great popcorn flick if you’re into supernatural thrillers. It’s well paced, the acting is great and you almost wish they would make another one because it was that damn good. What makes a good scary movie is not the quantity of jumps but the build towards them. The Atticus Institute does exactly that and I highly recommend it to anyone.

RPG Hub Movie Review: The Lego Movie

I took my son to go see The Lego Movie and while the previews were entertaining I wasn’t expecting much from it. The preview had the typical laughs but would it really have enough to suck us in. Well I am here to say that The Lego Movie is simply amazing.

The Lego Movie follows Emmet as he goes about his everyday ordinary life but suddenly becomes the chosen one who will save the world. Along the way he pairs up with all sorts of people like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, a unikitty(yes a unikitty) and many more as they try to save all the lands that were divided by President Business. While all the characters seem like total opposites the story makes it all work that they can all coexist in the same universe.

All the characters are amazingly acted and there are plenty of laughs to be had. Some of the best laughs are from Will Arnett who plays Batman as well as some surprising cameos (and boy there are many). From Liam Neeson, Billy Dee Williams to Channing Tatum; it seems like everyone is in this movie and I don’t blame them. The movie is all the better for these surprising cameo’s. It’s not just for kids after all.

Toy Story reminded us of the pure joy of being a child and playing with your toys. The Lego Movie does the same in infusing the movie with so much heart and passion that we are equally reminded of how much we loved our Lego’s. You will pick up many nuances in the movie as parts are marked with their special Lego product code and even old Lego’s are referenced. In fact I have to give them a standing ovation on this. Maybe this is simply a side effect but while The Lego Movie obviously pushed the new Lego Movie sets, it makes it a marketing campaign for every other set out there. There is a heavy focus on a western setting in the movie and I couldn’t help but think maybe, just maybe they did this to push more Lone Ranger Lego’s which seem to me to be the less popular of the sets right now. It could have been simply coincidence though.

I cannot say how much I loved this movie. Lego is universal and this connects us all together in the enjoyment of this movie. There is more of a profound message to be found in the movie then the simple passion of the product but I refrain from spoiling things. If The Lego Movie is any indication I think we will be seeing more movies on the way in the future and even if there isn’t, it rekindled my passion for Lego and I will be sure to swipe some of my sons Lego blocks to build something.

As the movie often repeats…EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!

RPG Hub Movie Review: Europa Report

I love Netflix for certain things. The ease of which I can see movies, all the classics, not having to go the the video store but also because I have the chance to discover new things. Sometimes the best movies that you see are the ones you just pick out at random and Europa Report is one of them.

Europa Report is about a group of astronauts who are on a mission to Jupiters moon Europa to find signs of life. The premise is nothing particularly new mind you but it’s more in the presentation that reels you in.

The movie is filmed in a sort of found footage mixed in with standard style. Think of it more as a hybrid. You may be doing some eye rolling about now when you hear “found footage” but hear me out, it’s actually very well done and not in an overly exploitative way.

When I first started watching the first thing I remarked was that this seemed higher quality then usual for a movie I never even heard of.  I almost thought I had missed a gem in seeing this in the cinema. The found footage scenes I mentioned are all the camera’s on the ship or on the astronauts themselves. It makes sense and you never feel that they are carrying around camera’s “just because”. Their primary use is to keep the flow of the movie. Most of the camera’s for the found footage are all fixed so you don’t have the picture jumping around everywhere. This is a bit of a blessing as there is nothing more irritating then a shaky camera for an hour and a half. However I think some of the best shot scenery are those showing jupiter and Europa in a panoramic view. Beautiful work done depicting the scenery.

Tensions build as the movie progresses as there is more then meets the eye going on Europa. We all know from the beginning of the movie that something tragic happened but we slowly get to see how things ended up they way they did which I always find fun. Sometimes the best part is the journey and Europa does a great job of that.

All the characters are well developed and they all get to have their moment in the movie. I appreciate when they can make a movie like that and take time to make everyone important in some way as to not only help the movie progress but to be that much more involving. The acting by all  is very good.

The climax was rather predictable after a certain point which was a little bit disappointing. I don’t want to spoil it for everyone but I had a feeling that once we got that high note, it fell kind of flat. You just have that “ah well….” sensation. Maybe I was wanting to be more surprised by what they had found. Either way it doesn’t take anything away from the movie as a whole.

So if your looking to fill in some time during your night with a fun sci-fi movie then Europa Report is your next stop. It’s got good acting, a good story and may just surprise you. If anything it will make you wonder why you haven’t seen this sooner.

Video Game Review: Tomb Raider

I heard great things about the newest game / reboot of the Tomb Raider series and seeing as how Steam had an amazing deal where you go all the games for $14 then I couldn’t pass the opportunity. I immediately dug into the game having heard the hype but also knowing it’s history. Suffice it to say this is a series that is now reinvigorated and ready to roll.

Tomb Raider follows a younger more naive Lara as she convinces her mentor and expedition team to diverge from their path to find the a lost kingdom called Yamatai in the Dragon’s Triangle (think Bermuda Triangle). Obviously things don’t work out for Lara and she ends up on an island where many others have shared similar fate. Those who remain have been indoctrinated into a cult of sorts but there is more to it then that. They seek freedom from an island that does not want to let them go.

The plot in itself is very engaging with lots of documents to be found and locations to be seen. The island is very much alive as you make your way exploring every nook and cranny. You often wonder what other areas you will find which is part of the fun.

Characterization in the game is very well done. Here we have a young, not so very confident Lara who gets horribly hurt at times but has to suck it up to keep moving. It sounds oversimplified the way I say it but we really get to see her grow and that the incredibly messed up situations she is in help her grow into the Tomb Raider we know she will be. And it’s not just her experiences that help her along the way as the supporting cast all have their part. The voice acting is very well done and there never seem’s to be a shallow character. Each have their role and in that role they have depth.

Gameplay wise Tomb Raider is a joy. Handling of Lara and jumping around is very smooth. Lara is limited to four main weapons, though she can use a climbing axe as a weapon. Each weapon is upgradable after you find materials. Materials are typical found as the main story continues however you find even more by finding Tombs. Also as you progress upgrades to your skills and new ones can be purchased to help round out Lara. I don’t say this very often but the game play feels so great that I don’t want them to change it EVER. If they want to add to this foundation that is ok however what they have now is perfect for the series.

As I briefly mentioned Tomb Raider has actual tombs to be discovered. There are more sub quest type of areas where it presents a simple challenge and once completed you find a gold treasure chest with items for upgrading your weapons. While tomb raiding should be obvious and cool I find this aspect alone to be the weakest. The challenges are not very challenging and the tomb explorations are rather short. I would have liked a few longer areas to explore and maybe something non useful but historical to be found. They packed a lot of flavour into the game, why stop now.

The game will suck up lots of time as it clocks in at 14 hours. However if you love collecting all the little documents, gps tracers, challenges, etc that can be found in each area then you can get even more game time clocked in.

Out of all the reboots I have seen, Tomb Raider by far is the best that I have seen so far. It respects the franchise and it makes Lara Croft more approachable in bringing a more serious mature nature to her. This is not your over sexualized Lara who we were left with, this is the new and improved Lara. Hear her roar!

RPG Hub Movie Review: Rob Zombie’s Halloween

We all know the John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. There have been many movies made in the franchise which have been both good and outright terrible but the mythos of Michael Myers has lived on. However after the Halloween: Resurrection movie did…not so well, a new direction was called for and in came Rob Zombie. Yeah I know right? You may remember two of Zombie’s other works, House of 1000 Corpses and it’s sequel The Devil’s Rejects. We will get to those another time so let’s just talk Halloween.

The story of Zombie’s version of Halloween is not entirely different from what was already established by Carpenter. Michael kills when he is young, then he is institutionalized, then escapes, kills some more and voila. The only difference is that this version is a little more gritty and more dark. This is not a bad thing mind you but Zombie has tendency in all his movies to make everyone seem like raving hillbillies.

This is how we are introduced to Michael as he is in a rather dysfunctional family who has a father being a mega drunk douche that even hits on his own daughter and then the polar opposite in his mother who by the way works as a stripper. This somehow is all a catalyst to the killer Michael is to become. There are some elements which were somewhat intriguing in that he liked to wear masks when younger and even made masks for himself in the institution. All of this likely a way for him to protect himself. Once he escapes it’s slasher fest right till the end.

There seems to be three schools of thought when it comes to Halloween. Those who want a more rationalized Michael that can be explained, those who want a supernatural version and those who simply want him to be left unexplained. Zombie seem’s to take a middle ground between all these aspects.  As mentioned we are to somehow think his childhood may have played a role but we are always left wondering if that is the simple answer. Later as the movie progresses though Micheal is put through the wringer so to speak by being stabbed, shot in the body twice and a glazing head shot. None of course kills him. So does this mean there is something supernatural to him as well? Maybe he is just really fucking lucky.

One of the biggest logical drawbacks to the movie is Michael himself. We are to believe a child who loved the candy so to speak ended up a 7ft tall muscular power house when he showed no inclinations for physical activity whatsoever. It may not seem like a big deal but with the more grounded  / realistic approach that Zombie seem’s to be going for, it breaks any credibility he had going for him.

Though it may seem like I am griping a lot about the movie, Halloween is a fun viewing. The action is almost constant, Michael as a character is extremely imposing and the supporting cast of characters are all played quite well. Sheri Moon Zombie plays a sympathetic mother whose family is butchered but still has love for the child who committed those crimes.  Malcolm McDowell plays a new twist on Dr Loomis who is a bit a prick and is more out for himself then helping Michael.

I think with how convoluted the Halloween franchise had become I was glad they opted to do a reboot. I am just not sure that this is the version I would want future sequels to but I also cannot help but think it was still very enjoyable to watch. Sometimes that is the thing when classics are remade and that is we are afraid of change. Zombie has proven he can make a good horror movie but I would like to see him try newer elements then rehash similar themes from his previous movies.

Video Game Review: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Transformers: War for Cybertron is an awesome game which was very true to the G1 mythos plus or minus some alterations. It was so successful that a sequel was made. Now with sequels, we sometimes fall short of what the first game was. Luckily for us though T:FoC is as good if not better then the first game.

T:FoC takes us to the Ark heading towards the space portal and the Decepticons intercepting. This is very much like the animated series in how it all began though with much more grandeur. Suddenly though we are brought to how this all came about and that is the Autobots needing to refuel the Ark after a Decepticon attack. The plot seem’s simple enough but there is more than meets the eye (oh god I am so sorry for that pun).  The pace throughout the game is quick and really gets you in the feeling that you are in the middle of a war which I just love.

The game is divided by chapters for various Autobot or Decepticon character. Rather than in the first game, T: FoC doesn’t give you the option of choosing a campaign side but rather integrates both sides in the overall plot. This gives a much wider view of all the events unfolding at key moments. The amount of characters you play is diverse which is an improvement on the original. On a side note one of the most fun characters to play as was Bruticus. Yes BRUTICUS!!! We often think what it would be like to merge and play as Devastator , Computron or even Bruticus and let me tell you…it’s oh so satisfying but while playing a giant is exciting you also get to play as Grimlock who is a fan favorite. In fact it makes him cooler if that’s possible.

So we have an awesome plot, a diverse character experience but that is not all. Controls feel much more refined. Not that there is a huge difference but it “feels” better, smoother and easier.  I never felt that I was hampered in my movements in either mode.

High Moon delivered an epic game in the Transformers franchise. It leaves the door wide open for the next installment and, fingers crossed, they manage to get one done. The game is not long by any stretch clocking in at roughly 8 hours if not less but while I would normally nit pick about that I cannot use it as a valid complaint in this case. The experience is complete and you feel fulfilled when all is concluded.

The game is an obvious labor of love and it shows from the designs, the mythology, quotes from the series and other such easter eggs. If you’re a fan of the series in any form whatsoever then you need to play this game. It is designed for you specifically in mind but will no doubt even suck in those who are less familiar with mythos.

Video Game Review: Dead Space 3

Dead Space has been an interesting series. It brought the survival horror theme into space which, while not exactly new, made it special again. But that was then and now we are at the third iteration of the series. So how does it fair? Well, let me tell you…it’s great!

Be forewarned that Dead Space 3 is more action then subtle horror.  The jumps are few and far in between. It’s not a bad thing mind you and it actually feels like the progression of the series. You cannot repeat the same formula without things getting stale. Sometimes you do feel like it is repetitive in the sense that it has the same kinds of monsters and generally you know when to expect them but the story is good enough to keep you going.

Ah so the story….We find our poor Isaac Clarke trying to deal with the aftermath from Dead Space 2. He is alone and trying to leave everything behind him in some sort of forced retreat. Of course there are markers involved as well in this entry and it plays the central focus but there is also more of a religious aspect in this as well. It makes for a different dynamic though we caught a glimpse of fanatical religion in Dead Space 2.

Obviously there are ships and you’re stuck in one but there is also some time on two different planets. I was soooo very glad that there was something other than an abandoned or overrun ship. It somewhat spiced things up from the norm. They also tried something interesting and that was travelling from one ship to another via service craft. From wherever your docking station was you could float around and explore. This was a bit of a treat because you had the grandeur and horror that is space. The debris and listing ships overlooking a planet was spectacular. It gave zero gravity play more depth than it ever did.

Unfortunately the creatures were not anything really new however there were a few entries. Boss battles were not particularly challenging. I remember much tougher battles in the previous games but that is not a bad thing. Rather then bog you down in a difficult battle you are pushed onward into the rest of the story. This makes things more compelling play wise.

Crafting is rather integral to the game or so they were hoping. You have the ability through the work bench to make weapons and customize them with parts you gather. You can also add circuits which give the weapon a particular bonus. There are also blue prints to find but you will never really have enough resources to build them. While all this crafting sounds great I literally stayed with the original weapon modified of course and stuck with that through the game.

All of these things combined make Dead Space 3 an excellent well rounded game. Dead Space 3 has garnered a lot of negative criticism however I think it’s not totally fair. It’s trying to expand the universe and freshen things up. The action is still intense and things move along incredibly well. The story is tight and adds more to the mythos of the Markers not to mention seeing Isaac grow as a character. In the end your left feeling extremely satisfied and that’s what a good game does. If Dead Space 3 has proven anything is that it still has a place on our shelves and definitely worth exploring more.

RPG Hub Movie Review: The Innkeepers

This is one of those movies that I first discovered in the video store. It had that intriguing cover and an interesting story. But despite all that I kept getting other movies but it was always on my hit list. So when I got my first free month of netflix I managed to find it and voila, it was time to see this movie and boy was I glad I ever did.

The Innkeepers follows Claire and Luke as they spend the final few days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn before it closes. They not only work they but are also trying to investigate the potential haunting by a famous spirit named Madeline O’Malley. All they need is that one big break for them to prove her ghosts existence. The concept is typical for a ghost story but with the small town feel and charm of the building, it really works.

The pace of the movie is slow as you begin to learn more about the building and Madeline but there is always something going on so you never feel like the movie drags. What helps is that both Luke and Claire are very witty and enjoyable characters. You really feel like you could hang out with them. They are very down to earth with no extraordinary quirks and I think that works for them and the movie as you don’t have to digest some complex character along with the story. You really are here for the enjoyment of the movie. There are a few other characters but they have their purpose and like Luke and Claire have nothing that takes your attention away from what is happening.

As things begin to develop you do encounter some scares but nothing truly gory or grotesque. The scariness is purely atmospheric and the ghosts you see are nothing to cringe at. Everything is done is such a way that it makes this movie extremely accessible for those who don”t want to be grossed out. This is very rare nowadays where shock value seems to always be a priority.

The Innkeepers is one of those movies that I believe will stand the test of time. It doesn’t try to shock people and it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It just tells a damn good story that you can munch on your popcorn to. I highly recommend that you rent this on any given day and give it a whirl. You will not be disappointed.