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UFC on Fox: Shevchenko vs. Pena – Breakdown & Predictions

After one paltry event since the turn of the new year, Saturday’s UFC on Fox event in Denver, Colorado, kick-starts four consecutive weekends of UFC action. If you were expecting some big-name value you’re not going to find it here, but all the same this is a fun, well-matched card with some serious implications for multiple divisions going forward into the rest of 2017.

Without further ado…

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This Week in Movies – May 19, 2017

Yeah, I missed a week. But only one, so I suppose we’re getting better.

Small update, too, especially considering it covers a fortnight. The next one will be a big one, though, so don’t worry about that.

First up, a pair of Netflix Original movies. Sand Castle is a war drama loosely based on the real-life experiences of the screenwriter, Chris Roessner, who joined the Army Reserves to help pay for college – two months before 9/11. It’s okay, but nothing special. Small Crimes, likewise, is mostly okay, but its cynical attitude and murky sensibility ensure it’s a little less enjoyable than even an average movie like Sand Castle.

Next, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, filmed entirely in a single location and revolving entirely around one, long gunfight, is really enjoyable for what it is. Not as weird or as memorable as Wheatley and Amy Jump’s other stuff, but I don’t think it suffers for that too much.

And, finally, Dead Awake, a horror movie about sleep paralysis that is so boring and derivative that it could very well put you to sleep. Irony!

Like I said, next week’s entry will be a substantial one. If I bother to write it, obviously.

This Week in Movies – May 05 2017

Yeah, I know. Been a while.

The irony, of course, is that I only started this weekly feature to give my poor, neglected personal site something resembling regular updates, and I’ve managed to fuck that up by missing the last two weeks. I resolve to do better, of course, but in the meantime, maybe subscribe to Ready, Steady, Cut!, where I publish these reviews. That way you won’t miss any when I inevitably forget to write next week’s entry.

Anyway. Big update, this, given it’s covering everything from the fourteenth of April, so let’s get on with it.

First up, Rings, which is shit.

Similar, but much, much better, is The Autopsy of Jane Doe, which is a small-scale, low-budget affair that you should definitely check out if you’re genre-savvy.

Speaking of genre, Sleepless is the latest entry in what I like to call “dad to the rescue” movies. It’s a so-so vehicle for Jamie Foxx, who’s aging gracefully, but nothing more than that.

Also so-so is Life, a flagrant Alien knock-off set aboard the International Space Station and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and some other people. Wait for Alien: Covenant later this month.

While you’re waiting, watch Get Out. I know I came to this one a little bit late and I’m mostly preaching to the choir, but seriously – this is a modern genre classic, and will almost certainly feature in my top ten of the year.

Fate of the Furious is… mostly okay. It’s still perfectly enjoyable, but it’s certainly overlong, and something is lost without the presence of the late Paul Walker. Worth watching if you’re into the franchise, but I wouldn’t go out of your way.

It’s certainly a better time than Sandy Wexler, though. Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix-exclusive abomination is a slight step up from his previous two, which means it’s still terrible.

Surprisingly not-terrible is Dean Israelite’s Power Rangers. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and I think you might be, too.

Less surprising: The Boss Baby. I didn’t care for it.

Luckily, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 mostly lived up to my (admittedly high) expectations. It’s about as good as the first one, just in a slightly different way.

And, finally, Colossal. It’s fantastic.

In other news: I’ve transferred my series on the DC animated originals from here, where it originated, to Ready, Steady, Cut!, where it will continue. Here’s a link to the contents page.

See you next week. Maybe.

This Week In Movies: Apr 14 2017

So, you may or may not have heard about my new gig as the chief film critic over at Ready, Steady, Cut! – it isn’t as though I’ve been tweeting about it near-constantly, so it might have escaped your attention. (I’ve been tweeting about it near-constantly.)

From now on, you can find all of my new (and old) movie reviews over there; several each week, in fact. And with that in mind, every Friday, I’m going to be writing one of these posts that sums up what I’ve covered over there, and gives you some helpful links to click if you’d like to go and read them. (Please do.)

First up was the spectacularly mediocre Ghost in the Shell. Putting aside all the controversy about Hollywood “whitewashing” and suchlike, the movie was bang-average in almost every way besides the visuals. I’d have bumped up the score a little for that, but the tone-deaf third-act plot twist lost it a point. It’s incredibly average.

(We also recorded a podcast episode about Ghost in the Shell, which is mostly us struggling to find interesting things to say about something so uninteresting, but you can hear me rant about the “whitewashing” on there, and find out why, for once, I actually think there’s some validity to it.)

Kong: Skull Island, on the other hand, turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Admittedly I mostly expected to like it and ended up mostly liking it, but as far as creature-features go this is an extremely distinguished variety with a solid cast and some seriously fun set-pieces. Go and see this.

Don’t go and see A Cure for Wellness, though, unless for some reason you have a peculiar fondness for eels. Look, I know, I’m supposed to like this, and I kind of understand why some other people do (the technical filmmaking is exquisite, if nothing else.) But I really didn’t care for it at all: I found it rote, predictable, boring, overlong, and generally unpleasant.

As for Beauty and the Beastit was fine. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a live-action remake of Disney’s most beloved animated feature. It retains the same spirit, but a little something is lost in the translation.

That’s it for the this week. Please check out Ready, Steady, Cut! if you have the time (and if you subscribe to me – subscribe to them. It’s mostly just more of me.) This is a burgeoning project that we’re very fond of and excited by, and we’d like you to be a part of it.

See you next week.

Review – For Honor (Story Mode)

For Honor imagines an alternate Middle Ages in which medieval knights, Vikings and samurai all live within about five minutes of each other, which funnily enough is the kind of world I’ve imagined for so long that I feel as though I should be getting royalties from this. I’d be doing pretty well for myself, too. For Honor has shifted a remarkable number of copies considering it’s a multiplayer-focused duelling simulator. I suppose even for adults there’s an implicit desire to find out which of your favourite historical warriors are the hardest. It’s a timeless argument that has its roots somewhere in kids insisting that their dad can beat their mate’s dad in a straight fight. That idea has a lot of legs. For Honor is a franchise waiting to happen, really. Maybe the sequel will explain where all the pirates went.

One of the first things For Honor asks you to do is choose which faction to belong to. I selected the Vikings because I feel as though my life has a lot less raping and pillaging than I’d like, but it turns out the choice only applies to multiplayer, and that regardless of who you choose to align with you can play as whoever you like, thus rendering the choice utterly meaningless. I’m glad I agonised over it for half an hour, because it isn’t as though I have anything else to be doing.

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Review – Sniper Elite 4

It’s hard to explain the appeal of the Sniper Elite series. It’s one of those gaming guilty pleasures that sounds faintly perverse written down, and utterly ludicrous spoken out loud. Not that there’s anything particularly unusual about sniping in games; almost all shooters have at least one rifle, and many have whole stretches of gameplay that are dedicated to nothing but long-range marksmanship. The sniping in and of itself, though, isn’t the appeal of Sniper Elite. Things would be so much easier if it were. But, no, there’s something else that differentiates this series from other sneaky-stabby-shooty third-person games, and it’s that psychotic slow-motion X-Ray view that lets you see all the catastrophic internal trauma you’re inflicting on your victims.

Seems an odd thing to be into, doesn’t it? Certainly wouldn’t sit well around the office water cooler or the in-law’s dinner table, and you get the sense that Rebellion, the game’s developers, probably recognise this. Which, I assume, is why they continue to set the series in World War II, despite having exhausted every major theatre of the conflict. You need Nazis for this kind of thing. These games have such a throbbing stiffy for lovingly-detailed exploding organs that it would be uncomfortable if your bullets were tunnelling through the brainpans of anyone else. But killing Nazis is always guilt-free. In the context of taking on a xenophobic imperialist war-machine, it’s actually pretty satisfying to watch precisely how much irreparable damage each bullet is inflicting on the Third Reich. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

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Resident Evil VII – Banned Footage DLC

First, a disclaimer: The following might contain minor spoilers for Resident Evil VII, and will definitely contain some major ones for how I feel about the video game industry’s lecherous DLC practices. Mere weeks after the main game’s release, Capcom are already groping in your pockets for more cash, whispering sweet nothings in your ear about how much cheaper it would be to simply buy the season pass and have done with it. They’re probably right, but savvy gamers know that shelling out for such things ahead of time is a bit like bobbing for apples in a pool full of shark fins – you might come up with something tasty, but you’re more likely to get your face bitten off.

Still, here we are. Banned Footage, after a period of purgatorial PS4-exclusivity, is now broadly available as either two individually-priced three-part volumes, or, if you’re a daredevil, for free as part of the season pass. If you were hoping for a purchase recommendation, no such luck. Both are hit-and-miss enough that they’re equally worthwhile or worthless depending on both your disposable income, and which parts of the uneven vanilla game you found most appealing. Sorry about that.

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Review – Resident Evil VII

The problem with Resident Evil isn’t that everybody dies, it’s that nobody ever stays dead. The series has never treated mortality with any kind of permanence. In the first few games, which were fairly traditional zombie stories, that was fine. It was mostly the point. But throughout many, often ill-advised sequels, Capcom started to apply the same logic to their major characters and plot beats. Albert Wesker has been the recurring series villain for 20 years, and he was killed in the first game.

The reason for Wesker’s implausible resilience is the T-Virus – a zombie-brewing superweapon that is also responsible for all of Resident Evil’s other unanswerable narrative quandaries. Sometimes they call it the G-Virus, or the C-Virus, and sometimes it’s a parasite called Las Plagas, but functionally it’s always the same thing: Bottled contrivance. Whatever you need, story-wise, the T/G/C-Virus Parasite can provide it. Monster outbreaks in Midwestern America, rural Spain, Africa? Done. Games set on luxury cruise liners and multicar locomotives? No problem. Villains and supporting characters dying grisly but ultimately unimportant deaths? Easy. Everything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained by this, insofar as anything that has ever happened in a Resident Evil game can be explained at all.

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