ACR Goes To The Oscars: 2015 Edition

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

trent-reznor-1.27.2014

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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Fresh Look At Final Fantasy XV


The game formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII has gotten another trailer, and I must say it looks quite impressive. With every bit of footage I’ve seen of this game, I become more and more hopeful that this could be a return to form for the series. This trailer gives me strong Final Fantasy VII vibes which is definitely encouraging.

This trailer sheds some new light on the story and gives hints as to why the protagonist and his crew have been on the road in all the footage that we’ve seen thus far. I am definitely hopeful for this game, we’ll get to (hopefully) FINALLY get our hands on it sometime in 2015. Stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news!

 

MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#2)

Renegade with Letters
#2 – Darth Sidious

Star Wars (various movies, comics, cartoons, and video games 1980-now)

All these villains talk about conquering the world or the galaxy, but this guy actually did it. Palpatine AKA Darth Sidious schemed his way into being voted into a position of absolute power by concealing his true face and intentions for several decades… Not to mention, he’s arguably THE most powerful Sith lord that ever existed in the Star Wars universe (mainstream or extended). He’s pure evil. If you ask a majority of the diehard Star Wars fans out there, they will tell you that the “prequels” (Episodes I-III) are a terrible disappointment for a number of reasons. While I agree that the films made a mockery of what could have been an epic background telling of the more popularized villain, Darth Vader, if you put those details aside to pay attention to what Darth Sidious puts into motion and ultimately grasps at the end of Episode III, it’s really quite amazing.

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Before the storyline depicted in the films , many details of Palpatine’s origin have been laid out in the extended Star Wars universe. He was born on the planet of Naboo, to a family of politicians, which is not uncommon because all citizens of Naboo are required to enlist into politics around the time of adolescence for a brief period of time. After living a spoiled childhood under the roof of an abusive father with whom Palpatine constantly disagreed with politically, he rejected his given name only to be addressed by his family surname. His first name was never truly revealed. Additionally he took an interest in ancient Sith artifacts and used his family’s vast wealth to collect various texts and runes in secrecy. He made a habit out of going to prestigious schools, being expelled by random acts of defiance, then having his father pay to cover his lengthy would-be criminal record through bribes to preserve the family name. As a young man, Palpatine even crashed a speeder and killed two pedestrians, which he held no guilt or remorse over. The incident even gave him a sense of invulnerability believing himself untouchable.

After catching the attention of Darth Plagueis (the only remaining Sith lord at the time)  by political connections, Palpatine was recruited to become his spy and eventually Plagueis’ apprentice after being influenced to kill his entire family finally giving into the hate that had fueled him all along. After Plagueis covered up the murders through his civilian disguise he began Palpatine’s Sith training as Darth Sidious unknowning that Palpatine was already well versed in some techniques thanks to his artifact collection. The first year of his training was spent on the frozen planet of Mygeeto, where Plagueis used the intense cold to hone Sidious’ determination, hate, and survival skills. Plagueis had schemed to use Palpatine as a hidden Sith lord corrupting politics as he himself attempted to learn the secret of immortality while guiding Palpatine’s direction. While under Plagueis’ apprenticeship, Palpatine was given a baby Zabrak who he would later train to become his own apprentice, Darth Maul. Essentially Maul was like Palpatine’s own son who was brutally trained beyond breaking points at his merciless hands but was ultimately diehard and loyal to him. While training Maul, Palpatine furthered his career into becoming a mild mannered galactic Senator with a smile that the public adored and continued to gain allies in the form of politicians, military officers, and even some Jedi.

Upon moving his personal belongings into his quarters on Coruscant, Palpatine hid his Sith artifacts and light saber within various art sculptures throughout his residence and they would remain there for several decades. During the period of time that Episode I took place, Sidious used his disguise to instigate an attack on Naboo using the Trade Federation in a scheme to usurp Chancellor Vallorum in order to springboard himself within the Senate. After a bunch of political backstabbing mumbo jumbo and countless deaths on Naboo Palpatine was able to get the Senate to boot out Vallorum and become the new Chancellor. On the night before his inevitable election, Palpatine struck out against his master, Plagueis, by getting him drunk and blasting him with force lightning in his sleep. While killing Plagueis, Palpatine delightfully mocked him announcing that he had been manipulating his master for years and that he had no intentions of sharing his power. Here Sidious instilled a new Sith doctrine of the Rule of One, which decreased the emphasis of apprentices (using them only as pawns) to ensure that he would not be overthrown like so many other Sith masters before him.

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After the loss of Darth Maul, Palpatine turned his focus to Anakin Skywalker, who came to the attention of Plagueis as a force anomaly before his death, but sought out the manipulation of his political confidant, Jedi Master Count Dooku, viewing a youth to train full-time to be too much of a burden with his new position as Supreme Chancellor. Dooku had resigned from the Jedi Council after the death of his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn (who was killed by Sidious’ apprentice, Maul) and became bitter towards their passive ways essentially blaming them for Jinn’s death (a bit ridiculous…). Together Dooku and Palpatine enacted Darth Plagueis’s master plan of creating a civil war which would thin the herd of Jedi across the galaxy and eventually lead to the Republic being completely overthrown to his will. In order to do so they commissioned the cloners of the planet Kamino to create a clone army based off the genetics of the Mandalorian bounty hunter, Jango Fett. Thus began the grandplan to use a legion of clone stormtroopers to fight off the immediate threat of Seperatists (which were a united front against the Republic all manipulated by Palpatine himself as well) in order to cement Sidious as the Galactic Emperor.

Fast forward through decades of seemingly endless droid, clone, and Jedi death because of a war that he orchestrated throughout the galaxy, Palpatine was able to do just that. After sewing seeds of mistrust about the Jedi Council to Anakin Skywalker and promising him the power to save his loved one from a death he had forseen, Palpatine finally revealed himself as the dark lord behind everything. Instead of taking Palpatine down directly like a responsible Jedi, Anakin alerts Mace Windu. With the Jedi forces spread thin throughout the galaxy, Windu takes a team of 3 other Jedi Masters to arrest/kill Palpatine fearing that he would be too dangerous to be left alive. Palpatine immediately disposes of the the 3 Masters and plays weak to Mace Windu’s mercy in order to influence Anakin into helping him kill Windu in a heat of the moment decision. With Anakin now pledging his loyalty in becoming Palpatine’s new apprentice, Palpatine gives the order for his clone troopers to wipe out the Jedi that they had been aiding for an entire war in one fell swoop. He then sends Anakin as “Darth Vader” to wipe out the leaders of the Seperatist movement, thus eliminating all the different factions playing a part in the Clone Wars and transforming the Republic into his Empire. (I know the prequels were weak… but Darth Sidious’ rise to power is undeniably awesome).

Sidious even used his malformed face that he received from backlash from his force lightning attack against Mace Windu as a rallying gesture of “taking a punch for the people” against a rebellious Jedi attack (though it has been disputed that his face had been like that for a long time because of Sith techniques weakening his body and he merely dropped an illusion technique in order to appear weak forcing Anakin to act). Another testament to his deceitfulness is that he gained this power of absolute control by a democratic VOTE at the promise of establishing peace and security. His Empire would rule over the galaxy for 25 years, while instilling terror with the planet destroying Death Star, seemingly infinite storm troopers, and apprentice, Darth Vader (who had plotted to kill his master for years but never quite got around to it… out of fear). The dude was scarey…

Eventually Vader was able to kill Sidious while he was attempting to recruit/kill Vader’s son, Luke, to become his new apprentice… but that wasn’t the end of him. Sidious was such a master of the dark side of the force that he had learned to transfer his essence into other bodies and did so into a slew of reserve clone bodies. Beyond the movies, Sidious demonstrated his most impressive feat by ripping the time-space continuum creating a “hyperspace wormhole” through his harnessed hate and anger. With this technique he could conjure a “force storm” while standing on a planet and controlling it to destroy planets or armadas in deep space. Holy. Shit.

The many details of Darth Sidious’ 1,000 year lifespan are robust and would take a book to describe in full. I will say though; according to the extended Star Wars universe, Sidious did eventually turn the original hero of the franchise, Luke Skywalker, to the dark side as his apprentice. So kudos to Darth Sidious. Aside from that he has every single bad quality you could ask for in a villain and he’s remarkably patient for how much sick pleasure he gets from torturing and killing people. It must have been agony for him to act like a cheerful gooby Senator. Not to mention he could conceal himself from being sensed as a Sith lord while standing in the same room as Master Jedi’s such as Mace Windu and Yoda… In other words, he clouded the minds of the most powerful Jedi with relative ease.

MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#3)

Renegade with Letters
# 3- Richard Guyot

Bio Boosted Armor Guyver (manga and anime series, 1985-now)

I already covered the basics of Guyver anime on my top 23rd villain, Aptom, but I will recap a bit: In the Guyver-universe, human beings were intentionally created as biological weapons by an advanced race of aliens. Apparently every human being’s genetic makeup was tailored to evolve into giant superpowered beasts called Zoanoids. These “Creators” also specially hand crafted a more advanced telepathic human to lead their future army against enemies unknown. This leader was Archanfel and his power source came from the alien Zoa-crystal that was fused to his body. At the early stages of prehistoric man, the Creators abandoned their project and decided to leave Earth and toss a meteor our way to destroy what they had created (possibly in fear of human potential for war). Luckily Archanfel was able to deter the meteor and the human race was able to flourish through several centuries. As time went on, Archanfel shared fragments of his Zoa-crystal with eleven other men (making them “ZoaLORDS”) to make up the Council of Twelve, which became the inner circle of the multinational conglomerate known as the Chronos corporation. Who is Richard Guyot then? He’s the final, most powerful member of the council (aside from Archanfel himself), and head of the American branch of Chronos. Why is he awesome: I’ll get to that, but if you need reassurance right away… just look at his hair. Glorious.

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The storyline of the Guyver anime/manga begins when an average high schooler from Japan, Sho Fukamachi, stumbles upon one of the Creator’s alien suits and accidentally bonds his body to it becoming the potentially ultra-powerful Guyver. The series starts off slow when the baseline human leader of the Japanese Chronos branch, Genzo Makishima, fumbles around throwing weak low-level Zoanoids at the Guyver to obtain the suit at the cost of Sho’s life. When these attempts continue to fail, Richard Guyot comes in to take command of the operation. Right off the bat, Guyot is imposingly cool as he laughs at the Zoanoid development that the Japanese branch has made and introduces the concept of Hyper-Zoanoids (Zoanoids with bonus abstract superpowers) such as his bodyguard, Zerbebuth, and the Lost Number Commandos. When Genzo Makishima failed his last chance at gaining the control metal of the Guyver suit, Richard ruthlessly subjected him to a customized Zoanoid optimization that would not be fully completed (which gave him one week to live due to how unstable his incomplete body transformation would damage his cellular structure). As the Zoanoid, Enzyme, Genzo Makishima could not revert back to a human form, had corrosive blood, and anti-Guyver poison laced claws, teeth, and a tail.

Using his Zoalord telepathy, Richard Guyot controlled Enzyme into fighting the Guyver to the death. After a grueling battle, Enzyme had succeeded in tearing out the Guyver’s control metal seemingly killing Sho. Unaware that Sho’s mindless Guyver-body could still function without brainactivity, Sho’s body attacked Enzyme once again only for Guyot to telepathically implode Enzyme’s body and melt both of them with the corrosive blood. That’s just cold; blowing up your own man who you condemned to live only a week anyway like that. But it got the job done. The Guyver was dead and Guyot had obtained it’s control metal… Until the metal reconstituted Sho’s body on it’s own from storing it’s hosts DNA and creating a clone body out of nothing. WHAAA?? That’s alien technology for you. Before Sho reawakened Guyot revealed that Chronos had plans for world domination by placing Zoanoids in selected government positions across the world and taking it over the course of one fell swoop by launching nuclear warheads and sending the world into panicked submission. He also revealed that he views humans that can’t withstand the Zoanoid optimization process are genetic failures that don’t deserve to live. After the Guyver had seemingly destroyed Chronos Japan’s headquarters, Richard escaped and established his new base at Relic’s Point (which was a facility within a mountain hiding one of the Creator’s alien ships… Which is were the Guyver units and knowledge about the Creators came from).

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When plotting how to break Sho Fukamachi’s spirit, Guyot was so detached from humanity that he was facinated to learn that attacking Sho’s loved ones and taking away his “everyday life” would hurt him the most. Richard and a fellow Zoalord, Dr. Hamilcar Barcas, then set out an elaborate plan to kidnap Sho’s father and transform him into another version of the Enzyme type Zoanoid. In this second battle, Sho’s brain was damaged and caused the Guyver to act on it’s own causing him to mercilessly kill his own father. That one hurt pretty hard. Guyot then conducted an attack on Sho’s allies himself and showcased his raw mastery of gravity by burying them alive under several tons of rubble. Thanks to Sho’s ally and renegade prototype-Zoalord, Masaki Murakami, his friends survived the attack and were even able to find refuge in the lower levels of Relics Point and were housed by a defective science division of Chronos.

Months go by as the heroes regroup and gather their strength to take Guyot and Chronos down from right under their noses. During this period of time Guyot secretly had his top scientist investigate another alien artifact which he believed was a Guyver-remover mechanism. Because Guyver hosts can cheat death by being copied by the Guyver unit control metal itself, a remover device would be ideal for permanently detaching the suit from the human (thus making it equip-able to a new host and being able to kill the old one). Against the will of the Council of Twelve, Guyot intended to use the remover and become the new host of the Guyver. If a non-augmented human could be so powerful just imagine what an already powerful Zoalord could do with one equipped. I believe while the other Zoalords wished to conquer the world and upgrade humanity into their controllable Zoanoids, they started off with some sort of deluded intention of doing it to protect humanity from an alien threat. The thing that makes Richard Guyot such an awesome villain is that he went against all of his evil comrades and said, “Nope, I’m not sharing with anybody” and decided to gain more power simply to destroy the rest of them for standing in the way of his selfish ambition.

Suspicious of his radical intentions, Dr. Barcas informed the rest of the Zoalords across the globe and of course the first one to arrive was the god-like Archanfel. When Archanfel approached Guyot for his treachery his usually calm demeanor was reduced to a frustrated panic and Guyot nearly destroyed the entire facility running away from the demi-God. Even when Guyot lost his cool he still proved to be incredibly clever by luring Archanfel into a wide open area and unleashing a self-made black hole that destroyed Relics Point even more and ended up sucking Archanfel in. With Barcas’ help he is able to stabilize the black hole but in doing so causes him to collapse and fall several hundred stories down to where the heroes were hiding. Here Guyot kills his prototype, Murakami, and the scientist that allowed the heroes to stay at Relics Point. He also battles Sho and the third Guyver and came damn near fulfilling his goals of using the remover on one of them until Archanfel reemerges from nowhere, breaks his Zoa-crystal, and blasts Guyot in the mountain now erupting with lava.

Remarkably enough, that hadn’t killed Guyot because he somehow reemerged several years later in the Guyver timeline as a member of a new Rogue Zoalord group with a synthetic Zoa-crystal giving him new power and a spider-like bottom half of a body. The dude is just a beast. I mean he took on 3 protagonists after staving off the attacks of the most powerful character in the series and opened/closed a black hole… Guyot just refuses to go down easily. He’s as slick, confident, and selfish as Lex Luthor. He’s almost unkillable, devilishly deceptive even against his own superiors, and he basically spit in the eye of a demi-God… So I have some mad respect for this guy.

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