Tag Archives: video games

Movie Review – Uncharted (2022)

Grab your treasure map, 3.5 readers. It’s time to chart a course to…mediocrity.

BQB here with a review of the treasure hunting tour de force (farce?) that is Uncharted.

Movies based on video games are often hit or miss and frankly, more miss than hit. I can’t really recall a game based movie that was a hit. A better movie historian than I might know of one and I feel like there must have been one but ultimately, what works as a collection of cut scenes between parts of a game where players make stuff blow up rarely translates to the big screen.

This is ironic as most gamers, myself included, have always agreed that Uncharted is one of the most cinematic films ever made. For the uninitiated, the games follow snarky treasure hunter Nathan Drake, a descendant of famed explorer and Queen Elizabeth love interest Sir Francis Drake. With the help of surly old pilot Sully, he travels the world in search of history’s greatest piles of long lost loot, often getting shot at by villains who want it more than he does. As a gamer, you get to shoot back, jump across ravines and hope you don’t fall in, climb up wreckage before it falls off a cliff and so on.

Sadly, the film version loses a lot in translation. Mark Wahlberg’s Sully isn’t grumpy or surly but is greedy, a scumbag who cares about gold more than people. He has a heart in there somewhere but whether he will let his lust for wealth get the better of him is his challenge. Villain Antonio Banderas…sigh…all I can say is he is getting up there in years, but I suppose it happens to the best of us. He is an average villain as villains go.

There’s a hot babe who likes to stab people and another hot babe who joins Sully and Nate. I can’t remember their names. I don’t think they added much to the movie other than they were hot and the one stabby hot one stabbed people in creative ways.

Tom Holland is given a chance to shine outside of his best known Spiderman role. I think the question we viewers had was can he play someone other than Spidey. Turns out he can. You’re able to view him as someone other than Peter Parker though in the games, Drake’s character was more of a handsome ne’er-do-well while Holland still has that aw shucks nerd appeal though he tries to lose it here.

While it is a fun romp, it doesn’t quite live up to the games. Though it comes out big time, and I mean big time at the end, much of the film is devoid of stuff you’d want to see in a treasure hunting movie, like wandering through jungles and tombs and catacombs and so on. I’ll give the film credit and admit the end is a visually stunning thrill ride but the ride toward it is a bit of a snoozer.

Holland does great but I think was ultimately miscast in the role, as was Wahlberg. Again, if you’ve never played the games, imagine a young, full of himself Robert Downey Jr. being flown around the world by an angry wiseacre grandpa. It was a buddy duo that worked in the game but doesn’t work in a movie where both characters want to be the cool leading man guy.

Also, the film kind of just glosses over Drake being an ancestor of Sir Francis Drake. I don’t think they ever even explain who Sir Francis was, and the modern day Drake’s ancestry was a fun part of the games. Weird how every Batman movie needs to devote at least a half hour or more to the Waynes’ untimely demise outside a movie theater but no one thought to add a five minute scene about how the main character is a distant descendant of a world famous explorer.

STATUS: It’s ok. A bit of a bummer because if there was ever a game begging to be turned into a movie, it was Uncharted. I’ll admit that making a treasure hunter movie in today’s modern times is a hill so steep one wonders if climbing it is worth the effort. Today’s modern audiences are more aware than ever that treasure hunters are basically just thieves who travel the world stealing another culture’s precious wealth and relics and all those booby traps the hunters have to dodge are just the ancient equivalent of an alarm system. Don’t you lock your doors and turn on your alarm to protect your stuff? Well, ancient people did that too. (By the way the film also distinctly lacks any good booby trap scenes, a must have in a treasure hunter movie.)

Is it shelf-worthy? Barely. It could have been better. It looks like sequels are planned. Though I like Tom Holland, I think the movie rests heavily on Holland’s fame and charm and if Hollywood had put some thought into it, they could have made some great flicks here. Then again, maybe not. After all, no one roots for a treasure hunter anymore. Why do you think Hollywood hasn’t put out any recent Indy reboots when they’ve rebooted everything else?

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Playing Red Dead Redemption 2

Haven’t gotten too far into it but enjoying it so far.  The main character is a real cowboy’s cowboy, so that’s cool.

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I Haven’t Played Red Dead Redemption 2 Yet

ME: Oh boy! I just got Red Dead Redemption 2!  I can’t wait to play it!

RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2: Please enjoy the next two hours of downloads, updates and installations.  Feel free to stay up late to play or just play tomorrow.

Sigh.  For a guy from the plug and play generation, this is most annoying.

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Arcade1Up Machines Look Awesome!

Check out Arcade1Up!

Check out Rerez’s review:

Hey 3.5 readers.  My better half, Video Game Rack Fighter, is off fighting a squadron of flying robot chimps, but she wanted me, BQB to bring this to your attention.

I’ve wanted to become an antique video game machine collector for awhile now.  I have fond memories of visiting arcades as a kid and think an arcade cabinet would be a cool show off piece for a nerd cave.

Problem is a) they’re expensive b) you’re pretty much own your own to repair them c) how the heck do you buy one, have them shipped, get the thing into your house and really, it just felt like it’s possible that I’d spend a ton of cash for something that would blow a fuse and become a really fancy coat rack.

A company, Arcade1Up, has apparently realized there’s a demand among nerds like myself.  They’re releasing a series of four foot tall arcade cabinets for $300 a pop.  Titles so far include Asteroids, Centipede, Rampage, Street Fighter II, Galaga – all available for pre-order now and Final Fight will be available in Spring.

My thoughts:

  1. Each game comes with other games loaded on it if you get tired of the main game.
  2. Four foot tall kinda defeats the purpose but you can grab a chair and sit down to play, or they do sell a riser box you can put the thing on so you can play it at standing height.
  3. I’m a little torn because ultimately, it all seems fun yet also all seems like a waste of money.  I stayed at a house once where there was an arcade game as a collector’s piece.  It was fun.  I didn’t spend too much time on it.  Once in awhile, I’d get up, go to the bathroom, play with it a bit, go to bed.  It seems like something that would be fun if say, you were a millionaire and could stomach the idea that one day the thing will break and you either need to junk it or scour the earth and hire an expert classic video game repairman or something.  These are much cheaper but are they as cool as say, the actual antiques?  I guess if you grab the riser and shove the thing in a corner, it’s a fun conversation piece.  Otherwise, I guess I can’t really justify spending $300 on a 1990s version of Street Fighter when it’s probably available online for peanuts and brand new games are available for your modern console for at least $60.
  4. I think they should make the cabinets so you can buy as many old games as you want and download them.  Wouldn’t that be a moneymaker?  Buy your cabinet machine with your favorite old school classic characters decorating it, put in your credit card, then download your favorite games at 99 cents a pop.  Oh well, I don’t know how to do that but if you know how to do it, feel free to do it and become rich.

Ultimately, I have a feeling I’m such a geek I’ll end up getting one.  First, why is there no Pac-Man and second, which one should I get?  My heart is torn between Rampage or Street Fighter. Rampage will be more fun.  Street Fighter more stylish.

That Final Fight looks good too so I could wait.  I don’t know if I’ll get one but if I do get one I will only get one.  I just don’t have the space to have 50 of these suckers lying around.  Just one, as the fun decoration I always wanted and maybe once in a blue moon I’ll get up in the middle of the night, take a poop, play Rampage, go back to bed.

Thoughts?

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Play Rampage Online for Free!!!

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I loved playing “Rampage” as a kid.  Well, if you’re like me and want to play it again…I’m surprised I missed this but as a promotion for the movie with “The Rock” a site was made that allows you to play the classic version of the game right in your web browser.

Punch buildings, eat humans, and go crazy as a giant gorilla, lizard or wolf:

PLAY RAMPAGE NOW!

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Movie Review – Ready Player One (2018)

Gamers vs the Man!

BQB here with a review of “Ready Player One.”

3.5 readers, I went into this movie thinking it would suck…but it didn’t.  I love it when that happens, when I got into a movie thinking it will blow goats but instead it blows hot winds of fun into my face.

Hmm…phrasing.

Anyway…in the future, the world sucks.  Poor people live in trailers stacked on top of each other and life sucks so much that people spend all of their time in a virtual world, the OASIS, where they can be anyone and do anything rather than live in the sucky world.

There is a catch – to die means to lose all progress, money, enhancements etc. you’ve made to your avatar, and to start over from scratch.  Some have spent so much time building their online personas they’d rather die in real life than begin anew again in the virtual world.

Halliday (Mark Rylance), a socially awkward to the tenth degree nerd who developed the OASIS has died but he’s left an “Easter Egg” in his game, i.e. if a gamer can solve three mysteries, he/she will get three keys to use to unlock…dun dun dun…a prize, that being controlling stock interest in the OASIS (a lot of money plus ability to run the world’s most powerful video game which accounts for a substantial amount of the global economy.

I don’t want to get bogged into the details but suffice to say, I went in thinking this would be a glorified cartoon but instead, found an interesting look at a possible technological future.  The better virtual worlds get, will they be able to solve societal problems?  After all, few can be all they want to be in reality as they are so many people competing for so few opportunities, but if everyone can be beautiful, awesome, do whatever they want in a realistic virtual game….well, is that a way to make everyone happy or is that a way to keep people from experience reality, as drab as that may be sometimes?

Pop cultural references abound as Halliday was a fan of everything 1980s.    The hero of the film Wade/Parzival Tye Sheridan, drives a copy of Marty MacFly’s DeLorean, for example.  Somehow, he and his love interest, Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke) and a band of plucky young players must save the day and defeat Sorrento, owner of IOI, a corporation set up to dump thousands of players into the game for the sole purpose of finding the keys and gaining control of the OASIS for evil purposes.

From a writing standpoint, it’s pretty slick.  It makes me want to read Ernest Cline’s novel version to see how he did it.  You’ve got human players in the human world and they’re playing in the virtual world.  They go back and forth between worlds, almost simultaneously, as sometimes human heroes are trying to save their indisposed friends who are busy playing the game from an attack from real life baddies.  It gets very complicated so I’m always curious as to how authors navigate such difficult waters.

One complaint.  I hate to sound like an old man, but even though it’s PG-13, the word “fuck” is used.  Seriously, what the fuck?  It’s used in a joke and the joke lands, ergo it’s not gratuitous but still, are there standards or what?  Either “fuck” gets you an R rating or it doesn’t.  Further complaint, “shit” seems to be really creeping into PG-13 movies and it’s like, what the hell, either these are movies that families can take their older kids to or they aren’t.

All that said, the movie was fucking good.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Rampage (2018)

So, a trio of monsters walk into a bar and…

BQB here with a review of “Rampage.”

Ugh.  How did this movie get made, 3.5 readers?  Honestly.

It’s like Hollywood refuses to take a risk anymore.  Anything that comes with a brand, a name, a nostalgic audience…it’s going to get made.

Do you remember the “Rampage” video game?  As arcade games go, it was pretty awesome.  As a kid, it was one of my favorites.  It was pretty easy.  You take control of a monster.  You climb the beast up and down buildings, punch them until they fall down.  Gain extra points by destroying helicopters, tanks etc and if you need more health, just eat some people.

Hmmm.  Maybe that’s why I’m so messed up.  Anyway, what usually makes for a good video game does not make for a good movie so….I’ll be very kind here….it’s a fun popcorn movie and it was better than I thought it would be, but that being said, it’s not something I’d bother to watch again either.

The plot?  Ummm….let’s just say it’s the Rock doing his thing – saving garbage movies by being a big, loveable lug, that rare bodybuilding tough guy who seems like he could save your ass and yet he’s probably read a book or two so he might also hold up his end of a conversation.

The Rock = saver of shitty movies, from “Fast and Furious” to “GI Joe” and now, this drek.  Without him, I doubt it would have been watchable.

The evil Wyden Corporation, headed by a duo of duplicitous cartoon villains/brother-sister siblings (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacey as Claire and Brett Wyden) have corrupted the genetic research of ex-employee, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris).  Their super evil corporation has turned what was supposed to be a cure for all diseases and used it to, instead, make animals become super big and strong and crazy and able to destroy entire cities.

Um…because apparently giant, city destroying animals are way more profitable than a cure-all for all of mankind’s diseases but, yeah, stop thinking too much.  Seriously.  If you saw the trailer with the Rock running around with a giant gorilla and thought this was a thinking man’s film then I don’t know what to tell you.

Rounding out the cast is Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Harvey Russell, a mysterious government agent dubbed “The Cowboy.”  He more or less plays a watered down version of his Negan character from “The Walking Dead.”  While he doesn’t carry a bat and isn’t a murderous psychopath, he does have that similar, “Look at me, I’m saying inappropriate things but because I’m saying them with an attitude, you’re supposed to think they’re really clever!”

The Rock, of course, plays an ex-special forces soldier turned primatologist because, apparently that’s a thing.  When his buddy, a normally well-mannered gorilla (George) is turned into an insane killing machine because of the Wyden’s dubious concoction, it’s up to the saver of all franchises to save the day (and this movie because seriously, the man’s macho charisma is the only reason to bother watching…although Naomie Harris is hot, intelligent…arguably too good for this picture.)

One complaint – it’s PG-13 so…I guess it’s ok for the teenagers but still, there are a few jokes where it’s like…eh….really…do we need so much use of the word “shit” and other naughty activities (George likes to give the middle finger to the Rock).  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ve become an old man but PG 13 meant something different in my day.  Get off my lawn and I’m keeping your football.  It’s mine now.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy.  It’s not a flick for the ages, but it’s a fun ride.  As utterly ridiculous as it was to make a movie based on a very simple video game, this version was the best possible version that could have been made, I think.  It doesn’t suck as much as I thought it would, let me put it that way.

I had the chance to watch it at Disney’s super deluxe AMC with all the thrills, my seat shook when the monsters punched each other and shit.  Good stuff.  Go see it in the theater once, have a good time, then try to forgive yourself for wasting two hours of your life on this tomfoolery.

 

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Movie Review – Tomb Raider (2018)

A tomb is raided and other surprises in this reboot of a movie series about a video game, which you think would mean it is destined to suck but surprisingly, it doesn’t.

BQB here with a review of “Tomb Raider.”

Egads.  I suppose we should have realized it would happen sooner or later.  Millenial Lara Croft.  While Angelina Jolie, Gen X Lara Croft, reveled in flashing around her family’s fortune that allowed her to live an adventurer lifestyle, waltzing around the world in her tight short pants, twin hand cannons strapped to her hip as she absconds with the treasures of indigenous peoples in the name of saving the world (which to her credit, she did save it a lot), today’s Lara is different.

Millennial Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) covers up and, gasp, wears full pants.  She prefers a bow and arrow (I won’t get into the hand cannons but it is addressed), and she laments her family’s wealth.  It really eats her up inside that her long lost father, Lord Richard(Dominic West) left her with fat stacks of cash.  Why should she enjoy such a hefty bank account when so many others inherit nothing?

Ergo, when our tale begins, we find that this Lara has shunned Croft manner in favor of the life of a lowly bicycle courier until she realizes her treasure hunting father might still be out there, and she’ll have to follow in his footsteps (and assume control of the Croft dynasty) in order to find him and, of course, save the world from a devastating fate that is sealed in, you guessed it, a tomb.

Walton Goggins, best known for playing caricatures of dopey, in-bred Southern redneck baddies, dials it back a notch and plays the best, most believable villain of his career, the overseer of an operation that is blasting and digging up a remote Japanese island in search of the above mentioned tomb.

The verdict?  You’ll have to forgive me.  I’m a Gen Xer, so I yearn for Jolie’s candy apple tushy stuffed into short shorts.  Her version of Croft was hot and intelligent.  Vikander is pretty and intelligent, but it’s made clear she’s here to save the world with her mind and athletic abilities and not hear to be your eye candy.

SIDENOTE:  It’s weird how things tend to come full circle.  The old folks of my day told women to cover up.  The young folks of my day said women should be able to let it all hang out to express themselves, be proud of themselves and that doesn’t mean they’re to be treated as playthings.  Now the pendulum has swung back and now the young people are calling for women to cover up, at least in movies now.  Oh well.  I’m just along for the ride at this point.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  I’ll give it to this film.  It’s better than I thought it would be, worth watching, though feel free to wait for it to come out as a rental.  It does have a bit more in the brain department than the originals, the plot is a better developed than the originals, though it’s also only developed as far as a movie about a video game will allow, which isn’t saying much.  Now is the time for common sense bow and arrow control.

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Are Video Games Too Violent?

By: Video Game Rack Fighter, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Video Game Correspondent

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Hey 3.5 readers, VGRF here.

Are video games too violent?  Are they messing with the brains of our youth and turning them into sick, twisted killing machines?

Here’s the video montage that was shown during a meeting President Trump held about violence in video games, provided by IGN:

So, to return to the question of are these games too violent?  The short version is, yes, probably.  But a longer answer is more complex.

Generation X, that often forgotten generation that came between 1965 and 1981, grew up on video games, first with the Atari in the 1970s and Nintendo in the 1980s.  Games then were relatively cute and comprised of little more than crude pixelized little characters.

It really wasn’t until the 1990s that games starting getting a little too real and a little too graphic.  And there’s the rub.  The baby boomers never got into adult gaming.  They bought video games for their kids but they saw games as kid stuff.

Gen X, on the other hand, carried on their love of games well into adulthood.  It isn’t unheard of for adults in their 30s, 40s, even 50s to kick back with a video game.

And thus the problem that arises is that adults will want video games with more sex and violence, and yet, there’s still a large segment of the adult population who don’t play video games and still see them as only kids toys.  Thus, if the kid asks for, say, Grand Theft Auto, the adult doesn’t know any better, assuming its a kids toy, and says sure here you go.

At least I assume that happens.  Worse, some adults might be negligent.  They say the mature rating on the package and say screw it and get it for the kid anyway.

Plus, kids will always find ways to cut the adults out of the picture and get a violent video game from a friend or something.

I love video games, the gorier the better but I admit, even watching some of these above scenes are rough.  Frankly, even the worst R rated movies don’t get that detailed with the violence, so perhaps the industry might consider scaling back.

On the other hand, I don’t support government involvement because we do have freedom of speech and these games are a form of speech.

Are they responsible for turning kids into violent little monsters?  It’s hard to say.  On the one hand, there are more incidents of kids turning to violence these days.  On the other hand, if video games really were that powerful, then like, everyone who played one would become whacked in the brain and the world would be filled with millions of violent video game crazed killing monsters.

I just think if we start censoring video games it leads to a slippery slope.  Allow the video game industry to crank out what it pleases, but also:

  • Most stores require a license to be shown to buy a mature rated game.  That should always be followed.
  • I don’t know if this exists, but if it doesn’t, here’s an idea.  Video game consoles can come with a code parents can put in that can be used to lock out the user from playing a violent video game.  Ergo, if little Timmy borrows a naughty game from little Billy at school, boom, blocked.
  • Government shouldn’t get involved where societal pressures can work.  Decades ago, it was pretty normal to walk into any business, restaurant, house, what have you and just get hit with a waff of smoke.  Over the years, smoking got relegated to being considered a terrible habit and if you are a smoker, you’ve got to hide on a corner and smoke in the rain.  I’m not saying to ostracize adults who play violent video games, but just make it socially unacceptable for parents to let their gets play violent video games.  If you let your kid play violent video games, then you aren’t cool, you’re a jerkface.

Admittedly, there will always be problems.  Games from the 1980s involved shooting, but it was like, a little pixelized pellet.  Today, games allow the user to peer through a scope, aim at a head and pop it open.  The more advanced the graphics get, the more problems, but ultimately, parents have to exercise some caution and if there are things the industry can do to help parents keep their kids from rotting their brains then they should help.

Bottomline.  I like violent video games, but I’m an adult.  These games are meant for adults, and not kids with mush brains who haven’t figured out right from wrong and fiction from fantasy yet.

EDIT: You know, I watched the above video after I posted this and I thought I liked violent video games but I might take that back.  To me, a violent video game is, say, “Grand Theft Auto,” – violent, but almost cartoonish and silly, a parody of our base instincts.  When I see games above where you get to pretend to be a serial killer and chase down victims and axe them and put them on hooks I mean, yeah, you might want to ask yourself what’s going on inside you that you feel that kind of simulation is a fun way to spend your free time.  The “are games too violent” debate has been around since video games existed, every new generation of adults posing the question and I hate to say it but yeah, maybe there are some games that are crossing lines.  Still, I can’t abide by government intervention so it’s up to society to decide.

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Movie Trailer – Rampage (Or, The Rock Saves Any Movie)

 

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

When I was a kid, I loved the “Rampage” video game.  It was popular as an arcade game and later they made console versions.  You played as your choice of a giant ape, lizard, or werewolf and you made your character climb buildings, bash them, eat people, complete mayhem and destruction.  It was all very cartoonish with humor, i.e. you could eat people while they were sitting on the toilet.  Your character was usually a human that turned into a monster, so if you were injured, you’d turn into a human without clothes and slink away embarrassed.

With the occasional exception, video game based movies usually suck.  So, when I heard they were making a “Rampage” video game, I thought Hollywood was really scraping the bottom of the barrel.  I mean, the game was fun, but it was pretty mindless and devoid of any plot whatsoever.

Then I saw the trailer and I have to admit, it looks pretty awesome.  Partly because they went all out with the special effects, but mostly because of the Rock.  From GI Joe to Fast and Furious, The Rock saves all.

What say you, 3.5?

 

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