IN REVIEW: Axiom Verge

Image appears courtesy of Playstation.com

 

Many modern games try to mimic games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras to varying effects. Axiom Verge reaches back to the 16-bit era with great success, it’s an homage to games like Super Metroid and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Axiom Verge doesn’t rest on its laurels though, it creates an imaginative, wholly enjoyable experience that really creates a personality of its own. This isn’t just a straight copy and paste of Super Metroid, it’s a game that knows its roots, but also carves out its own path.

Axiom Verge is quite the achievement, it was developed solely by up and coming game designer Tom Happ. Happ wrote the story, designed the levels, wrote the code, and even created the games catchy soundtrack. When today’s AAA games are developed by groups of sometimes hundreds of people, it’s truly astonishing to see what can be done by a single person. Sure Axiom Verge doesn’t have the glittery graphics of something like the Order: 1886, but it’s twice the game that the Order was.

Image appears courtesy of modvive.com

Everything starts with Axiom Verge’s tight gameplay. Platforming and shooting are on point and rarely will the controls ever let you down. If you played any 2-D side scroller, you’ll feel right at home with this game. The way your character progresses through out the game is well balanced and you’ll feel rewarded every time you collect a new upgrade or weapon. Speaking of weapons, there are tons of them, I wasn’t able to collect all of them in my first playthrough, but wound up with about a dozen unique weapons. Some were more useful than others, but the large weapon roster was appreciated.

Axiom Verge has a ton of secrets, some are ridiculously well hidden, perhaps too well hidden. Aside from the aforementioned weapons, you’ll find health upgrades, letters (with backstory), damage upgrades, and even upgrades to your jumping abilities. Perhaps the most unique item to be found in the game is the glitch gun. The glitch gun has many interesting effects, I won’t spoil anything, it’s better you just play around with it and find out for yourself.

You’ll have to use all of your abilities to progress through the game and  to uncover every nook and cranny. You’ll want to explore too, Axiom Verge’s world is beautifully drawn and is both gorgeous and eerie. You’re the only human in this very alien world. You’ll come across odd creatures and giant robots. It’s all very interesting, the story leaves a little to the imagination, but is detailed and engaging enough to push you towards the games finale.

Image appears courtesy of gamespot.com

Once you finish the game you unlock speed run mode, which can be streamed on Twitch instantly via Playstation 4’s share button. Get out there and break some records kids! The game also has multiple difficulty settings and a platinum trophy ( it’s a tough one to get) On normal difficulty Axiom Verge wasn’t too challenging, although there were some frustrating boss fights. I completed the game in about 15 hours, you can easily beat it in less time, but I took my time and explored as much as I could. I discovered 100% of the map and had around 80% of all the items.

Axiom Verge is a must play for any Metroidvania fan or for those that miss the old 16-bit days of gaming. It pays tribute to the classics, but creates it’s own identity in the process. The gameplay is tight, it’s a joy to control. The soundtrack will stick in your head even when you’re not playing. It was a breath of fresh air in a gaming industry that is full of bloated, graphics first AAA games. It’s amazing what a man with a clear vision can do.

The game is available digitally on PS4 for $19.99. Both a Vita and PC version are also in the works. Stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news.

 

Go here to check out the games awesome soundtrack!

IN REVIEW: Avengers: Age Of Ultron

avengers

photo courtesy of wegotthiscovered.com

Avengers: Age of Ultron made it’s silver screen debut this past weekend, raking in a huge sum at the box office–to the tune of $191 million. We here at Adventure Camp Radio had the opportunity to catch the flick last week, and now that some time has passed we wanted to not only review the film, but make predictions for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

THE REVIEW

Avengers-assembled

Photo courtesy of Forbes.

Now at this point, you’ve likely heard both insanely positive thoughts from fellow fans, or extremely negative. The negativity that is coming from some of the more…er…let’s say “hardcore” fans is so overwhelming, that Director Joss Whedon was practically carried away from Twitter by a gaggle of pitchfork-wielding crybabies on a quest for blood. **exhales**

But while this film may have a few plot holes scattered about, or a bit of fast-paced editing in it’s first act, for the most part–this film is a true standout among the barrage of comic book films coming out of Marvel.

For starters–we get to see a more human side to all of these costumed-heroes. Sure, we all love to see these men/women kick the snot out of monikered monsters, but we found it even more refreshing to catch a peek at the Barton family farm, or watch the Avengers wind down after a party. It’s the stuff that doesn’t usually show up in a comic book movie about the end of the world, and it was certainly a welcomed aspect. Let’s face it, superheroes do have downtime…sometimes.

In many ways, the villainous Ultron was much stronger than the villain Loki (in the previous Avengers film) and in other ways–he lacked. We enjoyed the childish nature of the character–he cracked wise, but he also cracked skulls. He was unpredictable, he was hell bent on destruction, and damn was he funny. Part of that is due to the clever writings of Joss Whedon, but the other half of that majestic bastard comes from the performance of James Spader–who really brought this fan-favorite character to life. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki had the advantage in that he wasn’t in a film jam-packed with information, which at the end of the day serves as the make-or-break for Ultron. You either love him, or hate him. Ultron was certainly not a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination, but there were scattered parts throughout that film that could have brought more focus upon the character. Most of the complaints surrounding the character seem to stem from the fact that Ultron’s persona seems to mirror that of Tony Stark’s. To that we’d have to say; well, Tony did sorta…create him. Perhaps we will get a Director’s Cut that’ll explain things more in-depth? Yeah, we’ll probably get a Director’s Cut…right?

The standout character of the film has GOT to be Paul Bettany’s Vision. At one point during the flick, the Avengers are about to suit-up for a round of Ultron-bashing, and Vision HANDS THOR HIS HAMMER. Like…what?! Seriously though, the entire theater erupted in applause and cheers, it definitely made it’s mark. The character was also stunningly portrayed–and arguably, the coolest Artificial Intelligence in a movie about a badass Artificial Intelligence.  And the best part is–Vision is garaunteed to make further appearance in future films, because he’s part of the New Avengers, which I’ll get to here in a minute.

At the end of the day, the real major flaw this film suffers from is pacing. This issue is most likely due to a major time-cut in the film during production. Initially, it was rumored that the film would clock in at almost 3 hours, and the theatrical version ended up being about 2 hours and 20 minutes long. As the old saying goes, you can take a 2 hour and 45 minute long movie, flip it upside down and shake it, and 45 minutes will fall out. Could we have benefited from the extra time? That remains to be seen. But when it comes down to it—Marvel wants to entertain you without boring you. Long, drawn out movies have been known to deter SOME (notice I said some) audiences. So it was probably a smart move. There is a rumor that there will be some sort of Director’s Cut further down the road. In our opinion, that Director’s Cut could quite possibly be a goldmine of Avenger’s goodness–so be patient.

We give it: 8/10

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OUR PREDICTIONS

THE NEW AVENGERS

photo courtesy of Screen Rant.

photo courtesy of Screen Rant.

Okay, so by the end of this movie we are introduced to a New Avengers team. From the looks of it; War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Captain America, and Black Widow are our “New Avengers.” We can draw this conclusion due to several reasons:

  • Tony Stark is seeking respite after the Ultron incident. (Kinda like Ant-Man in the comics.)
  • Hawkeye returns to the Barton family ranch.
  • Hulk takes off in the quin-jet. We have no idea where he’s going.
  • Thor returns to Asgard in an obvious set up for Ragnarok.

The original line-up is almost guaranteed to make an appearance in the third Avengers installment, Infinity War, but all things must come to an end–and setting this up makes total sense. Some young bloods are taking over for the old bloods who can’t do it forever. We’ve known this is coming, and maybe this is what ultimately lead to the acquisition of Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’ll make it easier for you by softening the blow.

CIVIL WAR

Captain-America-Civil-War-Movie-Logo-Official

Logo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

A recurring theme throughout Age of Ultron is that the Avengers could be perceived as a threat to the general public. The Hulk loses his effing mind in the middle of South Africa (“Thanks, Scarlet Witch” could be the new “Thanks, Obama”) and this results in Iron Man’s attempt to subdue him with the Hulkbuster suit, and this does not end well. The result of this battle, as pointed out by SHIELD agent Maria Hill, is nothing but death and destruction, and an arrest warrant for Bruce Banner.

The second threat is Ultron himself. Tony Stark is going to have a lot of explaining to do after what happened in Sokovia. When a giant robot tries to turn a city into a meteor in efforts to kill the entire human race, and it’s your fault? Yeah…sorry, Bucko. That’s a problem.

Both of these instances will most likely lead to Civil War. The government will ask that all superheroes be registered and regulated. Captain America–who’s no stranger to espionage–will clash with the government, whereas Tony Stark will agree. Thus, a Civil War shall ensue.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE HULK

photo courtesy of Collider

photo courtesy of Collider

Rumor has it that originally the Ultron script ended with Hulk heading up out of the atmosphere in quinjet, but what we actually saw was a bit more ambiguous. We caught a basic gimpse of the Hulk in a quinjet–destination unknown. Obviously, the ascent into outer space would have been the perfect set up for Planet Hulk, but we didn’t get that, so what’s next for the big green rage monster?

Well, the truth is–we don’t know. However, the way Hulk’s story ends in Age of Ultron is really quite clever. It’s doubtful that he’ll make an appearance in Civil War (he doesn’t show up in the comics) BUT he could be summoned out of hiding for ANY of Marvel’s future films. Which is pretty genius.

RAGNAROK

thor-dark-world-poster

Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Age of Ultron tried really hard to set up Thor: Ragnarok, but to Average Joe movigoer, the whole thing may have been confusing.

In the film’s second act, Thor meets up with Erik Selvig, and travels to an Infinity Well. The Infitity Well is, in layman’s terms, a magical underground pool of water that allows Thor to revisit the visions introduced to him by Scarlet Witch. Some hawk-eyed comic book fans will probably compare the pool visited by Thor, to the pool visited by Thanos. It is the Infinity Well that ultimately leads Thanos to the decision to gather the Infinity Stones. So this weird pool-thingy that Thor got all wet and studly looking in, might actually be both a setup and an easter egg. Cool beans.

VISION: THE MAN OF MANY FACES

Photo courtesy of hypable.com

Photo courtesy of hypable.com

There are several key elements in both the history of the character, and plot points introduced in Age of Ultron, that could lead to the future of Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For starts, the dude is sporting an Infinity Stone smack-dab on his forehead. When Thanos begins to gather the Stones on his quest for domination, he’s probably going to come a knockin’ on Vision’s door. Can Vision survive without it?

Also, and this could be wishful thinking, but in the comics Vision sparked a rather odd relationship with Scarlet Witch. With Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch in the mix, and the notion that the two characters now a part of the New Avengers together, could this lead to a little robot-romance? Only time will tell. But until then? This:

Photo courtesy of comicbookmovie,com

Photo courtesy of comicbookmovie,com

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Whew. That was a lot to cover. We’re gonna go take a nap now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carry the torch while we’re gone. Tell us, Avengers, what do you see in store for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Did you enjoy/dislike Age of Ultron? Tell us in the comments section below.

 

Films To Look Forward To In 2015

Unless you’re a hermit, you probably enjoy the occasional night out at the theater. 2014 was a banner year for film, one that saw both a resurgence in originality, and a resurgence of emotionally invested filmmaking. 2015 has some pretty tough shoes to fill, so grab you’re popcorn and saddle up. We’ve decided to exempt from reporting the comic-book/geek based films, because those are so heavily reported, they’re just a given. Instead, we decided to shed some light on films that do not fall under that category. Here are some films you can look forward to in 2015:

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Poster courtesy of fadedindustry.com

Poster courtesy of fadedindustry.com

Thank the Lord, Hateful Eight shall grace our presence in November this year. It almost didn’t happen. Some click happy douchebags leaked the script onto the internet, and Quinten Tarantino immediately pulled the plug. Thankfully, he decide to go back and rehash the story–making it completely new–and the project is currently in production.

THE REVENANT

the-revenant-image-leonardo-dicaprio

Photo courtesy of Collider

So you’re Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and your previous project was the incredible 2014 film Birdman–where the hell do you go next? Well, how does a kick ass revenge movie starring Leo DiCapprio set in the 1820’s sound?

Yep. Sign us up.

JOY

Jennifer Lawrence poses at the 85th Academy Awards nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills

Photo courtesy of Empire Magazine

No poster for this one yet, but we’re definitely interested. It’s a David O. Russel joint that (again) stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and it’s based on the true story of female entrepreneur Joy Mangano.

If it aint broke, don’t fix it. Russel, Cooper, and Lawrence are two for two. Maybe they’ll get a hat trick.

THE SEA OF TREES

THE SEA OF TREES

Photo courtesy of HitFlix

We’ve been pumped for this since we first heard about it. Sea of Trees is a Gus Van Sant film that takes place in the real-life “suicide woods” located at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan.  As the story goes, anyone who enters  these woods feels compelled to commit suicide–and from the picture above, it looks like we’re in for another great Matthew McConaughey performace this year.

SPECTRE

james-bond-24-spectre-poster

Photo courtesy of ScreenRant

Bond is back, baby! Another Sam Mendes-lead Bond film that boasts an impressive cast, it’s kindof hard to ignore this one. Skyfall was an impressive entry into one of the most prevalent and fantastical franchises in film history, so we’re anxious to see what Spectre can bring to the table.

CRIMSON PEAK

Photo courtesy of ScreenRant

Photo courtesy of ScreenRant

We love Guillermo Del Torro. The prolific writer is one of the best modern storytellers, and he continues to crank out amazing original content. Crimson Peak is a horror/gothic themed piece that about a house that can breathe, bleed, and remember.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

in-the-heart-of-the-sea

Photo courtesy of dreadcentral.com

Oooh goody, a new Ron Howard film. You see that giant whale up there? Yeah…you do. Well, that actually happened. In 1820, a whaling crew was attacked by a giant sperm whale and left stranded at sea for 90 days. Should make for an interesting watch!

MR. HOLMES

mckellen-holmes

Photo courtesy of IMDB

It’s a Sherlock Holmes movie…starring Ian McKellon…that takes place in Sherlock’s Golden years…Go ahead, we’ll wait while you squeal in excitement.

Seriously though, this is a rather interesting concept. An old, retired Sherlock Holmes is haunted by an unsolved case. Will he solve it?

CHAPPIE

Photo courtesy of MTV

Photo courtesy of MTV

Neil Blomkamp is sortof the sci-fi king right now. Hes two for two in our opinion in terms of original science fiction masterpieces, but will he be able to rope in a third? So far, Chappie seems to be visually impressive, and it boasts a pretty talented cast. Not to mention, if you look at the poster, Chappie is clearly baller.

KNIGHT OF CUPS

Photo courtesy of movienewz.com

Photo courtesy of movienewz.com

Finally a role where Christian Bale can step back and breathe a little. This new Terrence Malik flick had us all pretty interested from the trailer. What was instantly intriguing about the trailer, was it’s almost amateur cinematography. Which sounds weird, but there’s something almost…mesmerizing about it. Just very simple, and elegant. We’re definitely ready.

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And there you have it, folks! A bunch of really interesting, non comic book related films are heading your way. Are you excited? Are there any we missed that you’d like to see on the list? Tell us in the comments section below.

ACR Goes To The Oscars: 2015 Edition

oscars+2015

Logo is trademarked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

And so it begins; Oscar season. The Super Bowl for film nerds. We here at Adventure Camp Radio couldn’t be more thrilled for this year’s impressive list of nominees, so we thought we would give you all a detailed piece on who we predict will win, our personal picks, and who we think got the major-league snub! For the purpose of time, and because we aren’t cool enough to watch literally every single film that comes out (Talkin’ about you–Indie foreign films) We will be covering Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Animated Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Original Score.

So let’s dive in…

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BEST PICTURE

THE NOMINEES ARE

American Sniper
Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole

Boyhood
Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson

The Imitation Game
Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman

Selma
Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner

The Theory of Everything
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten

Whiplash
Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

WHO WE PREDICT WILL WIN

Picture courtesy of the official Boyhood Facebook page.

Picture courtesy of the official Boyhood Facebook page.

Boyhood, a film written and Directed by Richard Linklater, has made a permanent stamp in film history. Not only does the film boast a 12 year shoot, it also features some fantastic performances by an extremely talented cast. If you can appreciate the simple beauty that is life–then you can appreciate Boyhood as much as we did.

We think the Academy did, too.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

1_AW_Imatation-Game

Not only does The Imitation Game tell a wonderfully compelling story, it tells a factual story. Based on the true story of World War II code cracker Alan Turing, The Imitation Game features an outstanding performance by Benedict Cumberbatch that illuminates this incredibly well put-together historical drama.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

SnubsBestPc

Why is it that the Academy fails to recognize comic book films as a legitimate form of storytelling? Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Guardians of the Galaxy was one the best films to come out this year. We’re also a bit surprised that David Fincher’s Gone Girl didn’t make the cut. Historically, the Academy really enjoys Fincher’s work, and his book adaptation’s are near flawless. Gone Girl was an intense thriller that had us guessing from beginning to end…perhaps the judges read the book?

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BEST DIRECTOR

THE NOMINEES ARE

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Boyhood
Richard Linklater

Foxcatcher
Bennett Miller

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson

The Imitation Game
Morten Tyldum

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Richard Linklater. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Richard Linklater. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

As we mentioned above, Boyhood was an incredibly ambitious project, and a feat in cinematic history. Richard Linklater was the mastermind, and it’s only fair that the man receives credit where credit is due.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Yes, Linklater made a great film. However, Linklater made a coming of age piece about a young boy, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu made a masterpiece. It’s tough to describe just what Birdman really is, but the film itself is a spectacle unlike anything we’ve seen in the last few years. Great performances, great editing, great story–and Alejandro was behind the wheel.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle. Photo of DuVernay courtesy of Vulture, and photo of Chazelle courtesy of Design Trend

Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle. Photo of DuVernay courtesy of Vulture, and photo of Chazelle courtesy of Design Trend

We’re confused…If your film is nominated for Best Picture, wouldn’t it make sense that the folks behind the Director’s chair received recognition as well? Regardless, Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle put together two stellar films (Selma, and Whiplash respectively) and they deserve a shout out.

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

THE NOMINEES ARE

Steve Carell
Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper
American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch
The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Eddie Redmayne
The Theory of Everything

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Photo courtesy of the Oscars

Photo courtesy of the Oscars

Michael Keaton delivered the performance of his career in Birdman, and it should be blatantly obvious that he’s the rightful owner of the coveted Academy Award for Best Actor. Say what you will about the Academy, they really do try to be fair in regards to how they vote, and Michael Keaton is long overdue for recognition of his immense talent. Benedict Cumberbatch kicked major ass in The Imitation Game, but we here at ACR are in the Keaton camp.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Photo courtesy of Collider

Photo courtesy of Collider

Really? So we’re doing this? Okay, apparently the Academy doesn’t nominate breakthrough actors who deliver impeccable performances in Best Picture nominated films….MMMMMMMMMMMMMk.

Seriously though, Miles Teller killed it in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. While it’s impossible to say that Miles Teller was drumming throughout the entirety of the complex numbers played in this drummer-drama, it’s also impossible to say he didn’t bring his A-game. The kid learned how to play drums, brought the feels, and didn’t quit when J.K. Simmons was fake yelling at him… So that’s saying a lot.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Marion Cotillard
Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones
The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore
Still Alice

Rosamund Pike
Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon
Wild

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Photo courtesy of the Oscars

Photo courtesy of the Oscars

This one will fall under the “credit where credit is due” category, as Julianne Moore is an exceptional talent–she has been for years. Moore has also received a total of five Academy Award nominations, but hasn’t won in any of the five. So it’s likely the Academy will give it to her through a great performance.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

Photo courtesy of the Oscars.

Photo courtesy of the Oscars.

Rosamund Pike serves as the only nominee for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and for good reason; she was brilliant. Amy Elliot Dunn is a sinister little minx, and the role required Rosamund to play many different characters within one body. Pretty impressive if you ask us.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

big-eyes

Photo courtesy of Collider

What, no love for Amy Adams? The same Amy Adams who WON this very award at the recent Golden Globes? We get it, you want to give someone else their fair shake, but couldn’t she at least get a nomination?

…a phone call? Anything?

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

THE NOMINEES ARE

Robert Duvall
The Judge

Ethan Hawke
Boyhood

Edward Norton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Mark Ruffalo
Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons
Whiplash

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Whiplash-7567.cr2

Photo courtesy of Collider

This one is simply a given. J.K Simmons is an actor who is almost always overlooked, and continues to deliver compelling performances in every role he takes on. Whiplash saw yet another stunning performance by the man of many faces, and there is literally no one else who deserves this role more than J.K. So file this one under who we think should win, too!

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Photo courtesy of Screenrant

Photo courtesy of Screenrant

Did Channing Tatum have to take the night off or something? Robert Duvall is great and all…but The Judge? Really? Channing Tatum was amazing in Foxcatcher, and deserves just  as much, if not more recognition than his co-star Mark Ruffalo.

Someday they will notice your talent, Chan Chan.

Someday.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

THE NOMINEES

Patricia Arquette
Boyhood

Laura Dern
Wild

Keira Knightley
The Imitation Game

Emma Stone
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Meryl Streep
Into the Woods

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Patty

Photo courtesy of the Oscars

We think Patricia Arquette has a pretty solid chance of winning Best Supporting Actress this year. Patricia has been around for quite some time, and has not once received an Academy Award nomination…frankly put, if they do give it to her; she earned it. Truthfully, Patricia Arquette can be kindof hit or miss, but in Boyhood she definitely delivers.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

Photo Courtesy of USA TODAY

Kiera Knightley. The Imitation Game is an incredible film, and Kiera Knightley does a bang up job in her portrayal of female code-breaker Joan Clarke. What makes her performance so special, is the level of depth and complexity she brings to an already complex character. There’s a certain level of style, or flair, that remains unmatched from any other film we’ve seen this Oscar season.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Photo courtesy of Indiewire

Photo courtesy of Indiewire

There’s a collective head shaking happening over here…Tilda Swinton was in three friggin’ awesome roles this year…you couldn’t have picked just one? We decided to go with her performance in Snowpiercer, because it’s probably her most showboaty (yeah, not a word, we know) role of last year. It’s okay though, it’s not like Tilda isn’t polishing the Oscar she’s got at home.

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

THE NOMINEES ARE

Big Hero 6
Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli

The Boxtrolls
Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold

Song of the Sea
Tomm Moore and Paul Young

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

maxresdefault

Photo courtesy of YouTube

You’d think we’d say Big Hero Six, being that we’re nerdy and all, but truthfully How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the most deserving film on this list. Pretty impressive, seeing as the film is a sequel–and we all know sequels are often lacking compared to their predecessor–but, none the less, HTTYD2 was a great film, and it deserves the accolades.

So we give it our vote.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Photo courtesy of fansided.com

Photo courtesy of fansided.com

This is a huge, HUGE snub. Almost unforgivable. Not only was The LEGO Movie good…

It was surprisingly good.

Perhaps WB didn’t campaign hard enough, perhaps the Academy just assumed the film was silly and didn’t pay attention to it. Whatever the reason; The LEGO Movie got a massive middle finger from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

THE NOMINEES ARE

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Emmanuel Lubezki

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Robert Yeoman

Ida
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski

Mr. Turner
Dick Pope

Unbroken
Roger Deakins

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Photo courtesy of Kodak

Photo courtesy of Kodak

The Academy seems to really like The Grand Budapest Hotel this year, and Robert Yeoman has some pretty stellar cinematography throughout. Being that Robert is a part of the 9 nominations Grand Budapest has received, we’d be surprised if he didn’t win.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

Photo courtesy of gozamos.com

Photo courtesy of gozamos.com

This one is definitely tough, but when it comes down to it, the cinematography in Birdman was just too damned impressive. On a good day, Emmanuel Lubezki is a phenomenal cinematographer, but for Birdman? He was out of this world.

Birdman is pieced together to look like one long, flowing shot. This is definitely where editing comes in handy, but Emmanuel did most of the dirty work. The camera glides beautifully from scene to scene in such a way–that it almost feels like you’re flying.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

20YOUNG1-articleLarge

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Selma was definitely snubbed in many ways, but Bradford Young deserved a nomination for best cinematography. The shots were full of so much purpose, and on several occasions we were left speechless by the fantastic shots taken by this up and comer.

Keep on trucking, Brad. You’ll get your nomination someday soon.

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BEST EDITING

THE NOMINEES ARE

American Sniper
Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

Boyhood
Sandra Adair

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Barney Pilling

The Imitation Game
William Goldenberg

Whiplash
Tom Cross

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

75

Photo courtesy of Indiewire

Sandra Adair has worked with Richard Linklater, the director of Boyhood, for quite some time. Not only that, but she played a significant part in piecing together this 12 year epic of a film. It goes without saying that this is an incredible accomplishment, and she is more than deserving of such an honor.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD WIN

Photo courtesy of amazonaws.com

Photo courtesy of amazonaws.com

If Sandra Adair doesn’t take it, we’d like to see it go to Tom Cross. His work on Whiplash was so outstanding, that upon first viewing we actually thought Miles Teller was playing the drums…great job Tom!

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

Photo courtesy of pitt.edu

Photo courtesy of pitt.edu

Okay…where the hell is Douglas Crise? Anyone hear about that phenomenally edited film called Birdman that received 9 nominations including Best Cinematography? Yeah…that was a Dougie Crise joint.

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

THE NOMINEES ARE

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat

The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat

Interstellar
Hans Zimmer

Mr. Turner
Gary Yershon

The Theory of Everything
Jóhann Jóhannsson

WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Photo courtesy of Collider

Photo courtesy of Collider

The Academy really digs Alexandre Desplat this year, and so do we. He’s nominated twice in the same category, but if it were up to us, he’d get the gold for his work on The Imitation Game. The theme to this film will get stuck in your head quicker than “Let it Go,” and he only had a whopping two weeks to compose and produce this score…Color us impressed.

WHO WE THINK SHOULD BE HERE

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Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross pump out soundtrack gold. We know this–so where was the Gone Girl nomination? Why you aint getting’ no love, Trent?!

Don’t worry, WE love you.

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And there you have it, folks. Our predictions/thoughts on the 87th Academy Awards.

Do you have any personal thoughts? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your feedback!

ACR’s Top 10 Games of 2014

Some would call 2014 a slow year in gaming, it seemed like every big title you can think of was pushed back until 2015. I’d tend to disagree with that assessment though, I felt that there were several gems that released this year, games that are worth your time. I don’t think every game on my list will go down as an all-time classic, but they’re certainly games that deserve your attention. I’d like to preface this list by saying that I have not yet had the opportunity to play Bayonetta 2, Dark Souls 2, or Super Smash Bros, so they did not make this list. Never review a game you haven’t played!

10. Titanfall (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

Titanfall came out early in the year and was easily one of the most popular games on Xbox Live for a good portion of the spring and summer. It has since fallen off a bit, but there is no doubt that Respawn has created an enjoyable multi-player experience that I think will be greatly improved in its inevitable sequel. Being that it was multi-player only it had no true single-player content and the story was pretty much there as window dressing. That being said, the frantic fast paced parkour inspired gameplay was a blast, I just wish there was a little more content. The game can be found pretty cheap now and still has an active community, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for fast and frantic online action.

 

9. inFamous Second Son (PS4)

inFamous has been one of my favorite Sony franchises for years now, inFamous 2 was one of my favorite games period for PS3. It should come as no surprise that the latest and greatest in the series would show up somewhere on my list and for good reason. Second Son puts you into the shoes Delsin Rowe, a punk, bratty protagonist that you either love or hate. Through a series of events we come to find out that Delsin is a conduit, someone who essentially has super powers. The powers Delsin can acquire are pretty unique ranging from smoke to neon to video. Second Son is a gorgeous game with an enjoyable story-line that you’ll want to play through at least twice to get both endings. If you own a PS4 this should be a no-brainier.

8. Velocity 2x  (PS4, PS Vita) 

This is a game that was totally not on my radar at the beginning of the year and admittedly the only reason I got to play it was because it was free through Playstation Plus, but holy crap am I glad I found this game! Velocity is a fun, fast paced, arcade style game that would have felt right at home on NES or at the arcade. It’s a game that is constantly pushing you to beat your highscores, your friend’s high scores, and the world’s high scores. There’s a bit of story to be had, but the primary focus is trying to improve upon your level scores. It becomes quite addicting, I found it hard to cut myself off after just one level. The game is great on PS4, but really feels at home on the PS Vita.

7. Daganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PS Vita)

Daganronpa is a strangely addicting series, it’s essentially a visual mystery novel where you are tasked with solving puzzles and finding clues. The storyline is absurd at first, but the characters and mystery really pull you in as the game progresses. This is a direct sequel to the first game Daganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, so I recommend playing the first game (which is great in its own right) before tackling this one. You play as a student who attends Hope’s Peak Academy, through a series of events you and your classmates end up stranded on an island together. Eventually Monokuma (the antagonist from the last game) shows up and essentially pushes the students into murdering each other if they want to escape. The game can be silly and it never takes itself too seriously, but it is very engaging and hard to put down.

6. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

What else can be said about this series? Eight installments in and it is still one of the most enjoyable Nintendo titles on the market. It’s fun with friends and it’s fun by yourself. The racing in this game has been tuned to perfection, it plays similarly to Mario Kart 7, but has that extra bit of polish that send it over the edge into greatness. The tracks are beautifully designed and the characters are expertly detailed. This looks like a freaking Pixar film. If you have a Wii U you probably already own this game and if you don’t you don’t have a Wii U you should probably buy one just so you can play this game. Be sure to bring extra controllers, and prepare for hours of enjoyment!

5. Far Cry 4 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC)


The Far Cry series is known for being the perfect sand box game, a game series where you can blow up a rhino with c4 or ride an elephant into oncoming traffic. Far Cry 4 takes the sandbox the series is known for and literally turns it up to 11. This is a game where you feel like you can do anything and that any problem you may face has dozens of solutions. There is so much to see, so much to do, and so many things to collect that you can put in massive amounts of hours into this game. The Himalayas are a great setting for this series and buzzing your gyrocopter around the fictional country of Kyrat feels amazing. The story isn’t the best we’ve seen from the series, but it has a very memorable villain. Definitely a must play for those who enjoy mayhem.

4. Destiny (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)

My favorite phrase when describing Destiny is this “the game that everyone hates, but won’t stop playing” It certainly rings true, Destiny is a game that has numerous short comings, the story is lacking, the number of missions and strikes are lacking, the loot game is lacking, it’s a game that’s lacking a lot of things. However what this game doesn’t lack is in is enjoyable co-op multi-player that really puts you and your friends teamwork to the test, go into a raid unprepared? Prepare to die. Destiny just has this “it” factor that makes it such an addictive game, I think this game is merely laying the groundwork for what will turn into an amazing series. Easily my most played game of 2014 and will probably continue to be well into the new year.

3. Shovel Knight (Wii U, 3DS, PC, Linux, OS X)

Shovel Knight just might be one of the best indie games ever made. That’s a huge statement, but when you play this game you can’t help but feel that way. Its 8-Bit inspired graphics are beautiful, the music is catchy, the gameplay is fair, but challenging, and the storyline will have you laughing throughout. This game shows that you don’t need to have the fanciest coat of paint in this day and age to make a truly compelling and enjoyable game. If you’re reading this you probably own some sort of computer that can run this, so do yourself a favor and drop 14.99 for this incredible title, you won’t regret it.

2. Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360)

I’ll be honest Dragon Age has never been one of my favorite Bioware series, I thought the first game was good and I thought the sequel was garbage. I’ve always preferred Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, and even Jade Empire. I came into Inquisition with fairly low expectations, but left being blown away. This game is phenomenal and is probably one of the best rpgs of the last 5 years. There are so many choices to make, side quests, and secrets to find that it will take you well over 100 hours to do everything. Playing as the inquisitor puts you in charge of some very big decisions and even the smallest choice can radically change the story. This is the best rpg on next gen by far, if you’re a fan of the genre there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be playing this game.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

Good games set in the Tolkien universe can be hard to find, there have been some notable exceptions, but for the most part they’ve been rather disappointing. So when I played Shadow of Mordor I was pleasantly surprised to find a game with both a compelling story and compelling gameplay. This is probably the best Tolkien game to date, and for good reason. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed you’ll recognize some of the gameplay mechanics present here, but they’re so fine tuned and fun to play that it honestly puts Assassin’s Creed to shame.  The Nemesis system is brilliant, and although it can be buggy at times it can lead to some pretty intense battles. Every time you kill or are killed by one of Sauron’s army the power structure totally shifts, creating new war-chiefs, and generals. You won’t really get to see its genius until you actually play and experience it for yourself.  Shadow of Mordor is my favorite game of the year hands down, a definite must play.

 

 

MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#1)

Renegade-with-Letters
#1 – Onslaught

X-Men (various comic book titles and video games, 1996-now)

Professor Charles Xavier is my favorite comic book character of all time, so why shouldn’t he be my favorite villain? To be honest, Onslaught isn’t actually Charles Xavier but more of a subconscious manifestation of Charles Xavier’s telepathic prowess in psionic form constructed from the darker side of his mind. It sounds hokey and it’s definitely confusing but just imagine being Charles Xavier with all this telepathic power in the scope of his mind… Flip that and view it into a form of physical power in the physical world (beyond the astral plane) and you create something that is not only stronger and more durable than the Hulk and Thor combined but able to combat the entirety of the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four simultaneously. Onslaught is not only a fantastic showcase of how powerful Charles Xavier truly is but in my opinion presents audiences with a much more interesting duality than say Jean Grey becoming the Dark Phoenix. I mean Xavier is a pacifist and father figure to abandoned freaks everywhere, he lives and breathes charity and universal understanding… So when that kind of persona is flipped to the opposite, you’re dealing with a much more spiteful adversary. Plus Onslaught is all Xavier… not some cosmic godlike possession type deal.

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So how does something like Onslaught get created from such a good guy? Xavier is often called a dreamer because of his idealism in human and mutant coexistence, but thanks to ignorant and rash actions on both sides of the fence; human/mutant relations were at an all time low in the late 90’s. Magneto had used his powers to manipulate satellites across the globe to kill hundreds of people and when the X-Men confronted him about it he tore the adamantium from Wolverine’s body almost killing him. Ashamed of his friend’s actions over the years and appalled by his cruelty towards Wolverine, Professor X snapped and used the full extent of his psychic powers on Magneto which left him in a catatonic state for several years. This kind of Xavier displaying what he always COULD DO but never did was never seen before. Although it’s the main reason fans of the comics don’t like Onslaught; this moment sparked his birth by the dark aspect of Magneto’s thoughts merging with Xavier’s repressed feelings at that time. Some time after, an anti-mutant hate group had brutally beaten a child mutant to death outside of the X-Mansion while Xavier was accepting that he could not rehabilitate Sabretooth’s bloodlust while under his care. These “failures” in his mind were only the tips of his frustration built icebergs. While pursuing his dream and founding the X-Men, Xavier had sacrificed being invested in several loving relationships including his own son, David Haller (AKA Legion). Eventually he reached his breaking point and subconsciously created Onslaught.

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Behind the X-Men’s backs, Onslaught went out to recruit his own minions to finally end mutant oppression by any means necessary (sound like Magneto much?). He recruited the cybernetic one-man/mutant army, Post, the Age of Apocalypse refugee, Holocaust, Blob, Mimic, and the Incredible Hulk as his heralds (Hulk eventually broke free of his psychic manipulation) all while telepathically shielding the Dark Beast who was hiding in plain sight among the X-Men as Beast. Through Dark Beast, Onslaught gained more lackeys in his current incarnation of the Brotherhood of Mutants including Havok, Random, and Fatale. He also secretively altered the latest batch of government Sentinels to hunt down humans instead of mutants.

The earliest time the name “Onslaught” was mentioned was when the X-Men stumbled across the beaten body of the Juggernaut (Professor X’s step brother), who had supposedly been punched by the entity from western Canada to New Jersey… That is mighty impressive. Essentially this is saying the Xavier’s mental strength is far greater than the equivalent of Juggernaut’s physical strength (which magically grants him the right of way when in forward motion… no matter what).

Strangely enough Onslaught wanted to “test” the X-Men to see if they were worthy to be is heralds and pit Post against Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, and Cyclops who barely beat him (even though Onslaught could have totally control them with his mind but… whatever). He then personally visited Jean Grey and attempted to convince her that humans are inherently evil and joining his cause was her best course of action. Jean being faithful to Xavier’s dream refused only for Onslaught to retort by showing her that even Xavier was corrupt. In doing this, Onslaught revealed that Professor X from his earliest years of teaching the X-Men thought of Jean as a love interest (while he was in his 30’s and she was hitting puberty) but knowing it was wrong and that she was a strong motivator for Cyclops as a love interest he telepathically buried his attraction to her in his own mind (like he had done with the rest of his unpleasant emotions). Here we learn that Onslaught was willing to destroy everything good that Charles had worked for his entire life even at the cost of his own reputation. He then burnt his name psionically on Jean’s forehead for her to fear it.

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When Xavier finally reveals himself as Onslaught, he depowers the Juggernaut by ripping the Cytorrak gem out of his chest and blasts them all to death with a psionic attack. The end…

At least that’s how it happened in the future timeline where Bishop had come from and thanks to his interference the brunt of Onslaught’s attack was absorbed by Bishop himself. Essentially what I’m saying is; if it hadn’t been for a time travelling anomaly, Onslaught would have wiped out the X-Men and possibly the rest of Marvel’s heroes. But because they survived, the X-Men were able to make use of the knowledge that Onslaught was planning on finding other powerful psychics such as Cable, Nate Grey, and Franklin Richards (the omnipotent omega level mutant child of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman). A combined alliance formed between the X-Men, X-Force, the Avengers, and Excalibur to strategize a way of defeating Onslaught.

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Onslaught’s first target was Franklin Richards whom he had been visiting as an imaginary friend, “Charlie,” to gain his trust several months beforehand. After taking on a team of Avengers, Iceman, Bishop, and the Fantastic Four; Onslaught was able to steal the boy but not before revealing that the true Professor X was trapped inside the entity and fighting him. At the same time the X-Men traveled to Muir Island to investigate Xavier’s own “Xavier Protocols,” which were essentially contingency plans against himself and the rest of his X-Men in case they went rogue (Batman, anyone?). Here they found schematics for psionic-proof armor. Meanwhile, Onslaught had similarly trapped Franklin Richards within himself along with Xavier and siphoned off the boy’s reality altering powers which added on to his already seemingly infinite powers. With this he set off a huge EMP/psionic attack in New York City and attacked using his army of human-killing Sentinels.

After fighting off his powerful minions and developing Stark/Wakandan-improved psionic armor, the largest massing of heroes could finally face Onslaught. After Thor tore Xavier from the inside of Onslaught, the creature became more powerful and again unleashed an attack that would have killed all of them if not for Cable and the Invisible Woman’s shields. After the Fantastic Four enlisted more help from allies such as the Inhumans, Namor, and Dr. Doom (?); Onslaught caught up with Nate Grey and absorbed his psychic powers into himself (now 3 times as powerful as he originally was). After viewing Nate’s memories from the Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught was disgusted by a world ruled by mutants as well (viewing it as another failure in the long run) then changed his overall goal to annihilating everything deeming both man and mutant unworthy to inherit the Earth. To do this, Onslaught CREATED A SECOND SUN which began having drastically devastating effects on the planet. In desperation Dr. Doom then devised a plan to weaken Onslaughts barriers while the Hulk allowed Jean Grey to switch off his human consciousness completely in order to go toe-to-toe with Onslaught as an all-out savage rage beast. Hulk eventually grew as big as Onslaught and delivered a punch with the power of a nuclear blast.

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Now that Onslaught’s body was completely destroyed, he became a being of pure thought proclaiming that his armor was merely a shell in which he was evolving inside of the entire time. Now the only way to defeat him would be to contain the being within several vessels of equal mass. This led to a majority of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and even Dr. Doom sacrificing themselves by jumping into Onslaught’s scattered energies and disappearing. Reed Richards explained to the X-Men that mutant energies would only strengthen Onslaught which allowed them to survive and watch as the human heroes died (by Reed Richards I mean the Marvel writers explaining that they had to kill the Avengers and keep the X-Men because of sales at the time). This marked the “death” of Onslaught but it was later rewritten that all of the heroes had merely been recreated in an alternate dimension formed by Franklin Richards called Counter-Earth. All of this happened in a 47-issue crossover event composed of every major Marvel comic book title within 2 months.

Recently, Onslaught has resurfaced through the mind/body of the Red Skull when he had surgically grafted part of Professor X’s (now deceased) brain to his own and gained his telepathic powers. Although this appearance has yet to present itself as epic and memorable as his first, “Red Onslaught” is my cheap way of also adding Red Skull into the final spot on the villains list. I think Red Onslaught was the best way of continuing the character because beyond all things Onslaught is the personification of hate. What better “host” for hate towards his fellow man is there than a megalomaniacal Nazi fanatic?

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