Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Boyhood [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Richard Linklater has simply made such a brilliant film in 'Boyhood.' When you look at his repertoire, you see alright films like 'Dazed and Confisued' and 'School of Rock.' You also see critically acclaimed films such as his 'Before...' series. 'Boyhood' is on another level compared to all his previous work and may be the best thing he will ever be apart of. Filmed over a 12 year stretch, with the same actors, Linklater has crafted a film that's as fantastic as it is ambitious.

'Boyhood' follows the story of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and to a lesser extent his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), their mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and on some weekend visits, their father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). We meet Mason when he is six years old living in Texas. The family moves to Houston so that Olivia can complete graduate studies and get a job. Around that time, Mason Sr. takes the kids bowling and vows to spend more time with them going forward. Thus begins the journey of growing up, experiencing life and all the emotions, twists and turns that comes with it.

This is a film that's kind of hard to review, because I don't want to give anything away for those who haven't seen it yet. There's spoiling story, but there's also spoiling an experience someone could have watching a film. The story is engrossing and grand. You're not just watching the story of Mason Evans Jr. growing up, you're growing up with Mason Evans Jr. Played fantastically throughout, even as a younger child, by Ellar Coltrane. The support from Lorelei Linklater and Patricia Arquette is perfect. The scenes with Ethan Hawke are fantastic too and really capture the way a father bonds with his kids. The emotion that 'Boyhood' evokes is nothing short of astounding. The laughs are there, the seriousness wells up and heartbreaking moments hit you hard. The cinematography displayed throughout is a driving point of this for me. The sweeping landscapes of rural Texas, the bustling city shots or even just a creek in which they're fishing. Everything is just beautiful to look at throughout this film. The way that 'Boyhood' was made is also a pretty monumental thing, that has never really been done before. Taking 12 years to film a movie, so that you can use the same actors as they grow up. That way the audience can really connect and invest in them is a pretty genius, and one of a kind way, of making a film. There also wasn't a set script throughout this film. Linklater had a basic outline and the ending ready, but chose to incorporate real life experiences of the actors into the film itself, giving it even more of that authentic feel you feel while watching.

This review isn't as encompassing as what I would normally do, but rest assured, 'Boyhood' is truly one of the best films of 2014. It's garnered universal acclaim from all outlets and rightfully so. Richard Linklater's ambitious dream finally came to fruition after 12 years of filming. The phenomenal story of a boy and his family growing up, living life, going through triumphs and hardships. Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are outstanding throughout. It's one of the best films you'll see all year and probably this decade. 'Boyhood' deserves any and all awards it wins in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I finally got to see 'The Wind Rises' after awards season earlier this year and it was a nice movie. So I was very excited to get to see 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' before the awards season of 2014 officially began. Studio Ghibli is probably my favorite animation company, right up there with Pixar, even though that's pretty cliche to say at this point. Don't get me wrong, I love Pixar (and Disney Animation, too), but Studio Ghibli films always hit me right in the emotional gut. Couple that with the always beautiful style, fantastic music and highly original storytelling. 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' ranks up there with the best Ghibli has to offer.

'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' follows the story of Kaguya-hime (Aki Asakura). One day, Okina (Takeo Chii), a bamboo cutter, finds a miniature girl inside of a bamboo shoot. He takes her home to his wife Ona (Nobuko Miyamoto) and they decide to raise the girl. They also decide to name her, "Princess." Princess grows at an exponential rate and makes friends who begin to call her "Little Bamboo." One of the kids, Sutemaru (Kengo Kora), develops a close relationship with Princess. One day Okina finds gold and fine cloth in the bamboo and takes it to be a sign of Princess' royalty. Okina begins to build her a palace in the capital, and soon Princess' days living in the mountains come to an end. Princess finds herself now living in a lavish palace and being groomed into a true princess. She has even been given a proper name, Princess Kaguya, because of the light that radiates from her. During the after-party (so to speak) of her naming ceremony, she overhears guests unkind words towards her. This sends Kaguya into a despair as she begins to search for why she is here on earth.

From the get go, the art style 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' gets you immersed in the world. The hand drawn style that Studio Ghibli brings to this Japanese folktale is truly outstanding. The world and people are beautifully drawn. The backdrops of the mountains or palace are filled vibrant colors that perfectly accent what is going on in a given scene. This is probably my favorite Studio Ghibli film yet, from a purely artistic standpoint. The voice-over work is top notch too, especially Aki Asakura, the voice of Princess Kaguya. I'm not one to ever really complain about voicing in an animated feature, but when Studio Ghibli hires actors to voice roles, it's always spot on. The adaptation of the Japanese folktale, 'Tale of the Bamboo Cutter' was outstanding as well. It's sluggish at times because of the runtime, that's well over two hours, but that doesn't make any less mesmerizing. The last 20 minutes or so of this film is one of the best conclusions to a Ghibli film ever. The strong conclusion propels this film into becoming a near perfect one. The emotion 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' brings to the table is astounding as well. You'll feel joy and happiness. You'll laugh at times, while at other times you'll be hit with overwhelming sadness. All this is done expertly, as you will see it in the animation as well as feel inside of you. The music and score are also utterly beautiful, furthering the emotional tones of the film. The koto, predominately used throughout the score, is simply beautiful. Combine that with the completely authentic sounding music laced throughout, the beautiful singing from Aki Asakura and Kazumi Nikaido, and this may well be my favorite sounding Ghibli film to date.

'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' is the best animated film of 2014. Yes, I get that this was released last year in Japan, but we're just getting it in North America now. This is also Studio Ghibli's best film since 'Spirited Away' (in my humble opinion, if that means anything). In his first film since 'My Neighbors the Yamadas' in 1999, Isao Takahata, has got to have made Mr. Hayao Miyazaki himself proud. 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya' is truly the complete animated film. The beautiful and vibrant (hand drawn) animation, the perfect score and music, combined with the outstanding folklore adaption, ads up to one of the best films you'll see this year.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Foxcatcher [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

With Steve Carell and Channing Tatum as leads, you'd expect this to be a comedy through and through. Steve Carell has always been a top-tier Hollywood funny man. While over the past few years Channing Tatum has proven he's got some of the best comedic timing in the business. You would be quite wrong in this assumption though, as 'Foxcatcher' may be one of the darkest bio-pics I've ever watched. Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, alongside Mark Ruffalo and director Bennett Miller ('Capote' and 'Moneyball'), have made one of the better films to come out this year.

'Foxcatcher' follows the story of Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) in the years following his gold medal win at the 1984 Olympics, alongside his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), who also won a gold medal, both in wrestling events. Mark is training for the 1987 World Championships, when he receives a call one day from John du Pont (Steve Carell), millionaire owner of a chemical company. du Pont offers Mark a chance to train with him for Worlds (and subsequently the 1988 Olympics in Seoul) and make some money that he desperately needs. Mark jumps at the chance, but Dave (who was also invited) turns down the opportunity. Eventually, the two need Dave's training more than ever, as both men are spiraling. Culminating in one of the most horrific tragedies that no one ever saw coming. 

This is one of the slowest and most chilling films I've ever watched. I haven't felt quite so uncomfortable watching something, as I did during some of the scenes in 'Foxcatcher.' This is a heavy film, laced with the struggles over personal demons and the way money and not being accepted, really can corrupt someone. Steve Carell's most sombering role yet, isn't at all deterred by his make-up and cosmetic effects. They actually look really good. Carell gives a fantastic, yet borderline disturbing, performance as John du Pont. The slow roll is in full effect as you start to put two and two together throughout this film. This bio-pic and thriller, will make you gasp, if you let it suck you in and stay with it. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as The Schultz Brothers are quite fantastic in their own right. Tatum and Carell's scenes are powerful, dark and even filled with dread at times. When Ruffalo is in the mix, you get an odd air of hope mixed in to everything going on. The emotions in this are off the charts and the three leads convey it all expertly. The film is shot beautifully. Sweeping shots of the home and landscapes look great. The sets and overall look of the film is great as well. The dark tones throughout never make anything seem too happy. Even the training scenes in a brightly colored and vibrant facility, seem dull and lifeless, almost like a boot camp. The sets, houses and landscapes are done remarkably well. The score adds to all this, as the piano pieces they use throughout bring a constant sense of anxiety. All of this may seem like I'm taking this in as a horror film, in a sense it could be, but the feel of 'Foxcatcher' was never really happy-go-lucky in the slightest. 'Foxcatcher' is a long watch to boot, clocking in at just under two hours.

There's a lot of drag at times in this film, that's the main reason I couldn't get all the way behind it. It just feels like a ton of the scenes go on for too long. That always hurts films in my book. Otherwise, 'Foxcatcher' is one of the darkest, and best, that 2014 has to offer. The story of this bio-pic thriller is top notch, the acting between Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo is outstanding, while the overall quality of the film is superb. 'Foxcatcher' is an uncomfortably great film that you should really give a chance.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Interview [A Fat Jesus Film Review]

Boy, this film has sure sent everyone into a tizzy. The latest Seth Rogen and James Franco team-up has been one of the most publicized film releases in recent memory. Sony Pictures have been pretty heavily hacked the past couple of months. With films being leaked onto the internet and personal emails being disclosed. About a week ago, December 16th, hackers (now presumed to be from North Korea) sent Sony a threatening message to not show 'The Interview.' A day later, Sony cancelled the NYC Premiere and major theater chains (like AMC) across the US pulled the film from their Christmas Day release. This effectively killed any hope of the film releasing. This caused a backlash from media, theater owners and even The White House. In the days following all this hubbub, it was reported that Sony was looking for other ways to release 'The Interview.' These (presumed sites) included online streaming services like Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube. A few days ago, on December 23rd, Sony announced that 'The Interview' would have a limited theater release on Christmas Day. Then yesterday morning, it broke that Sony would also be releasing 'The Interview' online, for everyone, via Google Play, X-Box Video and YouTube. The film went live at 1PM (Eastern Standard Time) yesterday and 'The Interview' is now available for the masses.

'The Interview' follows the story of Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapoport (James Franco and Seth Rogen). Dave Skylark hosts a late night talk show in which he interviews celebrities about controversial topics. Aaron Rapoport is the producer for the show. Shortly after their 1,000th episode, Dave finds out that North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), is a big fan of the show. Aaron travels to China to arrange an interview with Jong-un's people. The interview is confirmed by Sook (Diana Bang) one of Un's right hand women. After Dave finds out he will be interviewing Kim, they have a giant party at his house. Upon waking up the next day, Dave and Aaron are approached by CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan). She informs them that the US wants them to assassinate Kim Jong-un, so that change may finally start to come about in North Korea. Dave and Aaron reluctantly agree and begin to prepare for their trip to North Korea, where Dave and Aaron will attempt to assassinate one of the most dangerous men in the world.

This films hype reached critical mass in recent weeks with all of the news surrounding it coming out day after day. Some will argue that this is an important moment in the history of film. Where free speech prevailed. Some will likely say that "North Korea was right, maybe we should have just left it on the shelf." It wasn't the best team up between Rogen, Franco and (writer) Evan Goldberg. I think it was bigger for one reason, the (nearly) simultaneous release of a major film on video on demand and in theaters. I get that films that get a video on demand release, simply don't make the money that ones that are released to theaters make. But, it makes sense, for studios to at least consider the possibility of going forward with an idea like this. Major studio films are going to be seen in theaters, there's no stopping that. People still want to experience films on the big screen. If you also add a VoD release along side of a nation-wide schedule, you not only reach more people, but you get even more exposure for your product. I'll be honest here, if you're not a fan of the Seth Rogen and James Franco's brand of comedy, you're gonna have a hard time liking this film. This is the type of comedy that relies heavily on Rogen and Franco playing off of each other. One liners all over the place, raunchy and sexual jokes and over the top nonsense throughout. I loved every minute of it too. I get that the story is iffy at best, and probably out of taste in more than a few places. I get that the violence, especially towards the end of the film, is kind of unnecessary. I also get that this may be the film that starts World War III. But watching this with a group of friends and just laughing, made watching this on Christmas Eve all the more worth it. People get caught up on whether a film's good or bad too easily, including myself. With 'The Interview' you need to go in, turn your brain off and enjoy it. The laughs are plentiful and the running jokes they do throughout hit well. The acting is pretty okay. Seth Rogen and James Franco are who you expect them to be. The performances by Randall Park and Diana Bang were also pretty good. Randall Park shines as Kim Jong-un. The CGI and action are done well too, albeit way over the top. The film is about two hours, but if you're into it, you're not counting the minutes until it's over. The music is okay and probably has the best use of Katy Perry's "Firework" you're ever gonna hear.

'The Interview' is far from a perfect film, despite the rating you may see on iMDB. The story is iffy and borderline out of taste, the gratuitous violence near the end is also a bit out of place and it's not the best Rogen and Franco team-up. Nevertheless, this film is one that I quite enjoyed. There's plenty of laughs to be had throughout and that's what you should be watching a comedy film for in the end. Rogen and Franco's chemistry is amazing, and the amount of stupidly hilarious things they come up with, that I'll laugh at, is awesome. 'The Interview' isn't the best comedy of the year, but as it turns out, may be one of the most important films to be released this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I've Played Video Games In 2014 [Fat Jesus Video Game Reviews]

Now this is a blog that reviews predominately movies and films. But, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I do in fact play my fair share of video games. I've gone through my games that I've played for at least an hour this year and complied a list of all of them. Now, I'm not huge on the shooter genre, so games like 'Call of Duty', 'Watch Dogs' and 'Destiny' haven't really appealed to me. Then there's games like 'Dark Souls 2', 'Bayonetta 2', 'The Walking Dead: Season 2' and 'South Park: The Stick of Truth', that I've seen tidbits, to a ton of gameplay of, that I haven't gotten around to playing myself. I REALLY need to get 'Bravely Default' and 'Fire Emblem Awakening' too. This isn't an "I'm Going to Rank the Best Games of 2014" list. This is merely a list where I rattle off all the games I've played this year, wasted hours upon hours on and just plain enjoyed playing.

-Nintendo Wii U/3DS-

3 Hours
'Pikmin 3' is the game I chose when I registered my copy of 'Mario Kart 8.' I've always liked watching people play the 'Pikmin' series, and figured this would be a great time to delve into the world of Pikmin. I haven't poured a ton of time into the game, but the controls are flawless, the game-play is fun and the world is beautiful.

43 Hours
Now I know that 'Miiverse' isn't technically a game, but when I first got my Wii U, I loved laying around with the game pad. That more than often, meant going on my Miiverse page and drawing Pokemon for kicks. I think I drew about 40 or so. I'm not that bad of an artist..I don't think.

46 Hours
'Mario Kart 8' was my reason for getting a Wii U. I knew there was stuff like 'Smash Bros' coming out later in the year, but this game is why got my Wii U. Easily the best 'Mario Kart' game since 'Double Dash', 'Mario Kart 8' brings the series into the next gen. New kart types, anti-gravity and all the HD blue shell tossing a man could ask for. Plus we now have Zelda tracks, Link as a racer AND Animal Crossing tracks and characters to come. What's not to love?

56 Hours
I love me some handheld RPGs (Role Playing Game). While I haven't got to play 'Bravely Default' or 'Fire Emblem Awakening' yet, 'Fantasy Life' was a good way to tide me over until then. In 'Fantasy Life' you start your new life in a colorful world that will eventually depend on you to save it. You have your choice of 12 classes to choose from and master, and you can switch between any of them at any time, depending on where you are in the story or even your mood. The story is pretty text heavy and once you actually finish, there's not much to do outside of mastering all the classes. The online multiplayer is fun, the graphics are nice and the music s actually really good.

60 Hours
Pokemon is my favorite series of all time. If you know me, you know this. So when I heard that Generation 3, 'Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald' were getting a remake, I was pumped. 'Pokemon Emerald' is one of my favorite games in the series and I poured a ton of hours into it as a young'n. So being able to revisit Hoenn, in 3D, was awesome. The story, while updated, it more of a retelling than an actual sequel. The characters do feel more real, but a new adventure would have been better suited for this game. The 3D was just as good as it was in 'Pokemon X and Y', the re-addition of Secret Bases and Contests are fun, The Delta episode is awesome, but the lack of The Battle Frontier returning, really does hurt post-game playability.

125 Hours
Granted, most of my 125 hours in this lastest addition, and possibly last, in the 'Super Smash Bros' series has been on my 3DS (Nintendo REALLY screwed up with their manufacturing of Wii U Gamecube adapters), doesn't mean that I like either game more or less. The game plays flawlessly on both systems. Though it's a pain in the ass to use a Wii U Gamepad with the Wii U version. The Wii U version looks phenomenal as the HD is top notch. The 3DS version plays well and gives you the added portability to play on the go. The game modes are challenging, the For Glory is a great addition and the amount of trophies to collect, if you're like me, will leave you clamoring for them all. My only problem with the games, are them not having dedicated servers for online play.

500+ Hours
It may seem like 500 hours is a lot..well okay it's a ton of time (I almost maxed out my copy of Y before ORAS released). But, while looking for work this year, getting my life together and all that fun stuff, I had a lot of down time. Most of this game play was in the early portion of 2014, where I proceeded to catch every single Pokemon and breed some competitive teams to go with my collection. Game-wise 'Pokemon X and Y' is a solid start to the series moving into a 3D world. The world is vibrant, the models and animation are good and the game flows well. The story is a little too short, it can also be REALLY easy and there's almost no post-game aside from breeding teams and actually catching them all. Nonetheless, "Pokemon Y' will hold a special place for me as it was my first game since 'Pokemon Blue' where I legitimately caught them all.

-Playstation Network-

 10 Hours
I love the WWE and I love pro wrestling in general. My PS3 died not long after I got 2K14 (early this year) so I didn't get to play it for very long. So when I got my replacement, I blew threw the '30 Years of Wrestlemania' story mode and had a blast doing it. The story modes that they've introduced over the past few years, are awesome. I'm glad that 2K is keeping those types of things around. I love playing through wrestling history, and WWE games are easily the best way of doing it.

10 Hours
Let me preface this by saying, I have seen a full play-through of this game. 'The Last of Us' is awesome. It's just not a game that I enjoyed playing myself. The story is superb and engrossing and the graphics are amazing, I could just never bring myself to actually play it. Maybe it was the combat, maybe it was the controls, maybe I expected something different. I don't really know to be honest. That doesn't take anything away from the game itself, as I immensely enjoyed watching the rest of the game that I just couldn't finish.

12 Hours
To say that 'Batman: Arkham Origins' was a letdown would be going way overboard. I quite enjoyed my play-through of it. I don't know why, but when it comes to my first play-through of the Batman games, I always one sit the story. 'Arkham Origins' is no different as I really only got up to eat or use the bathroom as I tore through the game. The combat was fine, like in all the games, the story was okay and the graphics were solid too. This game, and really series, is one of my favorite series of all time. There's not a "bad" game in the lot so far.

60 Hours
'Tales of...' is my favorite console JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) series of all time. (Sorry Final Fantasy.) Ever since I played 'Tales of Symphonia' on my Gamecube, I've been hooked on every main series game. 'Tales of the Abyss' is still my favorite. So when 'Tales of Xilla' was finally announced to release in the US I was stoked. I didn't get the game until late 2013, so I actually finished my first play-through of this in early 2014. I sunk about 50 hours into the story and the collecting everyone's most powerful armor and weapons. Then my PS3 died. I'm doing another run, so I can have a legitimate save file, before I start 'Tales of Xillia 2.' 'Tales of Xilla' is a beautiful game, the story is fantastic, the characters are okay, for the most part, and the combat is flawless and awesome. If you're a fan of JRPGs then this is for you.


1 Hour
'Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons' is a game that I got once I watched the trailer and it went on sale. The concept of using each analog stick to control the two people on screen is a unique one. I ended up only playing this for an hour cause I couldn't get into it at all. It looks beautiful, but the controls were just plain annoying more than anything.

1 Hour
I've watched a ton of people play 'Injustice: Gods Among Us' and I really did think that this could finally be a fighting game, aside from 'Smash Bros,' that I could really enjoy. That didn't quite work out as, this game is really hard to get a hang of. I spent a solid 30 minutes to the tutorial on how to pick up all the tricks. I then started up the story mode for about another half hour and it really didn't hold my interest (probably because I didn't really give it a chance). But hey, at least I got it on sale, right?

2 Hours
I'm just plain bad at almost all shooters, but once again, 'Borderlands 2' was one sale and I got it. I've seen tons of people play this game. The art style is cool, the characters are awesome, the story is fun and the dialogue is amazing. That doesn't change the fact that I suck at this game. Constant death, not knowing what stats to upgrade upon level up, more death. I think I could get into it, maybe, if I were playing with a group of people. Ones who are better than me at shooters, but until then, Imma let this one sit in my Steam library.

2 Hours
Don't let the playtime fool you, 'Gone Home' is one of my favorite games of the year. It is a first person exploration simulator that follows the story of Kaitlin as she arrives home after going abroad to Europe for a year. She comes home to an empty house and you get to explore the house, interact with objects and uncover a story while exploring. The story is fantastic, the look is great, the atmosphere is heavy (especially once you get deeper into the game) and the attention to deal is superb. I don't want to spoil too much, but if you haven't played this game, you should definitely give it a shot.

3 Hours
'Fez' is one of those games you get sucked into. The story is great , but what really sets 'Fez' apart is the art style and innovative game-play. The art style is colorful 2D pixel art. While the game is a 2D puzzle platformer set in a 3D world. You rotate the world and platform your way to collecting cubes and cube pieces and solve puzzles. I only played for about three hours, but I finished the majority of the game in that time. The puzzles are challenging, the world is beautiful, and the game play is highly unique. 'Fez' is well worth a play, even if the guy behind it kind of a douche.

3 Hours
Ladies you can DM me after you're done reading this paragraph. I've always been a fan of TCGs (Trading Card Games). I collected Pokemon cards as a kid. I played Yu-Gi-Oh for a bit as a teenager.  Then earlier this year I got gifted 'Magic 2014' and played for a good bit, you'll see below. I just got 'Magic 2015' and played it for a solid three hours yesterday. The game is mostly the same if you like Magic, but the menus are a pain in the ass to navigate now.

3 Hours
'Magicka' was pain in the ass for me to learn how to play on a controller. That being said, the multiplayer is fantastically fun, albeit repetitive, as the group I played with made this game way more fun that I ever thought it would be. The graphics and game play were pretty solid to boot.

4 Hours
'Mount Your Friends' has the most gratuitous banana hammock shots that you'll ever see in a video game. You use your controller or keyboard to have scantily clad men thing climb each other to see how high you can get. I've played this for four hours mostly cause I was invited to commentate on a 'Mount Your Friends' tourney my friend hosted. It was a blast.

4 Hours
I only started playing 'Risk of Rain' last night, but I've already logged four hours into it. It is a platforming game that has rouge-like elements to it. You control an explorer on a planet in which they are looking for a teleporter. You must fight various monsters in order to stay alive once you active the teleporter to move on. The graphics are nice, especially the background, the game play is face paced and fun, and the music is quite nice to boot. I think I'm going to put a good amount of time into this game.

5 Hours
Platforming is one of my favorite genres in video gaming and 'Spelunky' is one of the best games to come out in recent memory. The music and atmosphere in 'Spleunky' is great and the platforming is challenging. The rouge-like elements make each run different. The design is also superb. Each level is wonderfully made and each has a distinct feel to it all. Each character is disguised well, too. Though each different one is just a skin. The "combat system" is a bit to get used to though. 'Spleunky' is one of the hardest (and best) platformers in recent memory.

5 Hours
'The Stanley Parable' is one of the best games you will ever play in your life, not just this year. It doesn't feature the best graphics, it doesn't have any action or combat either. What it does have, is one of the best stories you'll ever encounter again and again and again. I don't want to give anything away. This is a game, that you if haven't seen anything about it, and play to play it, keep it that way. Because the first time you do play it, you'll lose your mind. It's really good.

5 Hours
'To the Moon' features one of the best stories you will experience. Combine that with the lively characters, the great pixel art and a fantastic score. There's not much to say about this game other than it's a fantastic one that you can finish over the course of a Saturday afternoon. Well worth the play.

6 Hours
'Bastion' is a game that I had been waiting to try out for awhile. So when I got my new computer, it was one of the first games I loaded up. 'Bastion' follows the story of "The Kid", in the aftermath of the Calamity, which hits the city of Cealonida (and the world it's in) and fragments everything into floating pieces. In this story driven, action RPG, you run around on these floating pieces, fighting monsters and collecting the crystals that this world needs to be restored. The action is fast paced and fun, the world (and characters) is astoundingly well designed and the story (especially the narration) is perfect. You should really give this a try if you haven't played it yet.

8 Hours
I still need to get to 'The Walking Dead: Season 2' but Telltale games knocked it out of the park with 'The Wolf Among Us.' Like with all Telltale releases, you are given complete choice over how your story unfolds. In 'The Wolf Among Us' we follow the story of Bigby Wolf, the Sheriff of Fabletown, as he investigates various crimes as he tries to keep order and enforce the laws. The story might be the best of a Telltale game yet. The dark and brooding atmosphere engrosses you. The music is outstanding. The characters and voice-work are perfect. Telltale hits it out of the park again with this one and I'm convinced they can do no wrong.

10 Hours
'Crypt of the NecroDancer' may have the best soundtrack of any game this year. Danny Baranowsky composes yet another outstanding soundtrack for this game. Speaking of the game, 'Crypt of the NecroDancer' is a rouge-like dungeon crawler in which you rely on rhythm to navigate your character. You go through each level of the dungeon collecting power ups, killing enemies and bosses with the beat of the song. Not only is the soundtrack amazing, the game is fun as well. I love rouge-like games, because it makes it feel like a fresh game every time you start up new run. Not to mention, it adds an extra layer of a challenge to a given game. 'Crypt of the NecroDancer' is worth it for the soundtrack alone.

13 Hours
'Dungeon Defenders' has been out for quite awhile now, but me and a couple of my friends really got into for a weekend this year. An action multiplayer tower-defense game that lets you hang out with friends is a great way to spend a afternoon or two. Not much to say about this other than it really is fun when you do fire it up.

16 Hours
'Don't Starve' is a game that I didn't quite know what to do with the first few hours I was playing it. You're thrown into a crazy, dark, Tim Burton-esque world and are told to survive and not starve. You run around picking berries, foraging for twigs and rocks, you cut down trees and try to keep your sanity up. Hunger isn't the only thing that will kill you, monsters abound and the local villagers you may find will attack you if you're not careful. It takes a certain amount of skill to survive for more than a few weeks in-game. It really is a game you can pick-up to kill some time. With 'Don't Starve Together' getting a full release, I can't wait to starve with friends.

23 Hours
You can look back at my snippet about 'Magic 2015' and mostly get the gist of why I played 'Magic 2014.' I used a bad-ass, souped up, Hunter's Strength deck that tore it up throughout the story mode. It really was a pleasure to tear through those unsuspecting CPU opponents match after match.

25 Hours
'Battleblock Theater' is the third game from The Behemoth, the guys who also brought us 'Castle Crashers.' I remember playing through 'Castle Crashers' for the first time and really enjoying it. So when platformer from the same makers popped up on Steam, I knew I was gonna play it. I've now played through the story three times and I never get tired of it. The humor and the cut scenes are right up my alley. The game play is frenzied fun as well. Teamwork is essential in co-op play and the platforming gets even more challenging as the game progresses. I just really like everything about this game.

300+ Hours
Like with most games, I wanted to wait until I got my new computer to really utilize everything. Now, many a time in this I've touted that I'm bad at shooters, but 'Left 4 Dead 2,' this is for some reason a game I can play decently well. Killing zombies is so satisfying. My friends and I have played literally hundreds of hours and done hundreds of runs this year. We got tired of looking at the conventional game and downloaded mods for the game to keep everything fresh as well. Now whenever we play, it's like a well oiled machine (for the most part) as we tear through a zombie-filled post apocalyptic world.

228 Hours
'The Binding of Isaac' was one of the first games I've ever 100%'ed. So when Edmund McMillen announced he would be releasing 'The Binding of Isaac Rebirth,' I may have fallen in love with a man for the first time. 'The Binding of Isaac Rebirth' is a rouge-like dungeon crawler that follows Isaac as you navigate his basement as he attempts to get away from his religiously crazed mother. This game has been out for almost two months and I've already sunk over 200 hours into it and nearly 100%'ed this game as well (The Lost runs are hell). The revamped graphics and the game not running on flash makes it perfect. The abundance of new items, bosses, trinkets and power-ups will leave you in awe. There's some bugs here and there early on, but on the whole, it runs great. The music is a step down because Danny B didn't do it and it really does hurt the game a bit in the end.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Gone Girl [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

David Fincher is one of my favorite directors of all time. He's directed spectacular films such as 'Zodiac', 'Fight Club' and 'Seven.' So when it was announced that he was directing 'Gone Girl', a thriller based off the novel of the same name, I was immediately interested. Then the cast was revealed. With Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris landing roles, everything had me hooked. I love dramas, mysteries and thrillers and 'Gone Girl' is a fantastic one, one of the best of the year.

'Gone Girl' follows the story of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). One night, Nick is coming home on his fifth wedding anniversary and upon arrival, he finds that Amy is missing.  The disappearance garners nation media attention because Amy is the author of a popular children's book series 'Amazing Amy.' Suspensions start to swirl that Nick is behind the disappearance, due to his awkward nature being misinterpreted by the media. The investigation by authorities turn up evidence that the two were in a bit of financial trouble and that their marriage may be disintegrating. It also turns up that Amy tried to purchase a gun, evidence of domestic problems and of a struggle. Finally, they find a medical report indicating that Amy may be pregnant. Nick says that has no knowledge of this. The evidence is mounting and the disappearance may not be a disappearance at all. The clock begins ticking to find Amy and for Nick to clear his name as well.

I was enthralled by this film from start to finish. I've never read the novel, but the overall look and characters suck you into the story, and world, very quickly. The story is highly original, and will keep you engaged throughout the film. It falters a little bit in the middle, but overall was very enjoyable from start to finish. David Fincher has always been great at setting the tone of a film and 'Gone Girl' is no different. The dark tone is perfect for a story of this nature and Ben Affleck is the perfect lead in this type of film. Ben Affleck turns in one of the better performances of the year. He is complimented well by Rosamund Pike as the "damsel in distress" with a dark side. This is easily her best performance of the year and carries her half of the film exceptionally. The two give powerful performances and take this film to the next level. You get to see the dark side of what fame, combined with a faltering marriage, can turn into, firsthand. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry turn is great supporting performances as well. Surprisingly, Media doesn't so up so that made this film about a million times better too. This films runs long, but it never feels long, clocking in at about two and half hours. The score is bone chilling and one of the better scores of the year. As said above, the look is superb and it's one of the best looking films of the year.

'Gone Girl' isn't one of David Fincher's top films, but it is still an outstanding film in it's own right. The story is really good and when you couple it with Affleck and Pike's acting, it becomes one of the best acted films of the year. The overall haunting feel of the film adds an anxious dimension to the film, that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. If you're a fan of thrillers, then this film is for you. Even if you're not a fan of this type of film, you should give it a try. It's one of the top films of 2014.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 [A Fat Jesus Film Review]

'Horrible Bosses' was released in 2011. It and '21 Jump Street' were two of my favorite comedies of the year, and now in 2014 we've gotten sequels to both. '22 Jump Street' was a helluva good sequel and I was really looking toward 'Horrible Bosses 2.' The trio of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis were a treat in the first film, and I was really excited to watch them get the gang back together. 'Horrible Bosses 2' doesn't have quite the same magic as 'Horrible Bosses.' But unlike what you're probably reading on Rotten Tomatoes or other critics sites, this was hardly a bad film.

'Horrible Bosses 2' follows the story of Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus, and Kurt Buckman (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) after the events of the first film. They have decided to start their own business, making a car wash inspired shower head, "The Shower Buddy." They have trouble finding investors until Burt Hanson (Chistoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine), approach him. They admire their work ethic and drive to keep production in America. They offer the trio an investment if they can produce 100,000 units. Nick, Dale and Kurt take out a business loan, rent a warehouse, hire workers and make the units they need. Burt and Rex back out of the deal and plan to seize their inventory in foreclosure, leaving the three $500,000 in debt. The company is about to go under and the trio is in trouble, so they go to Nick's old boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) for advice. He tells them they have no legal recourse, leading to the three coming up with a plan to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom. They then go back to "Motherf**ker" Jones (Jamie Foxx) and ask his advice on how to kidnap someone. He tells them the best way is to kidnap them and keep them knocked out for the duration. Nick, Dale and Kurt then decide to steal nitrous oxide from Dale's old boss Julia's (Jennifer Aniston) dentist's office. The plan is in place and everything is a go, as these three argumentative friends decide to try their hand at kidnapping and extortion this time around.

'Horrible Bosses 2' is a step down from the first film in a lot of ways. The chemistry between Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis is still fantastic. The three are a joy to watch and the 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' style of almost over the top "yelling" comedy pleases me greatly. The one liners, misinterpretations, pop culture references and general buffoonery of the three is simply astounding to behold. The supporting cast is still fun too. Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston all reprise their roles from the previous film and do well. Though Spacey's character, Dave Harkin, might have been a stretch to bring back, I'll never oppose to Spacey being in a film. The "newcomers" to this, I guess you could call it, ensemble cast, Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine do a fine job, Pine more than Waltz, mostly due to screen time. Chris Pine's character has now effectively lost his mind in two filmss in 2014 (this and 'Stretch') and I have loved him in both roles. The film is side-splittingly funny at times. There's a rapid fire amount of jokes and lines, so you may not like or catch everything, but there is quite a few laughs to be had. Things take a turn once you get past the acting and general humor of the film. The story is pretty iffy at best and it really does feel like a haphazard way of cashing in on the surprise that was the first film. 'Horrible Bosses' had a certain charm about it, while this didn't have that special feeling to it. While the humor at times is hilarious, there's a lot of recycled stuff from the first film littered throughout. Some of it works, while other times it felt like they threw it in just to reference the first film. You could argue that this film, like '22 Jump Street,' are two of the more self aware comedies in recent memory. So referencing themselves is one way to get a laugh or keep a bit going. Both in '22 Jump Street,' and this, the callbacks to the first film were hit and miss as well and sometimes just felt really lazily done. The amount of action in this is actually surprising, as the first film kept it to a minimum, and they did alright with it. The chase scenes were fine and even the 'Oceans 11'-like planning scene was a cool touch. The music and score are alright, as with big comedies like these you've come to expect top pop tracks and popular rock to be heard spanning throughout. The overall look of the film is better too. They've expanded to a wider range of shots and locations that showcases California pretty decently. 

If you're looking for a comedy to go see over winter break, 'Horrible Bosses 2' is for you, IF you're a fan of the first film. If you didn't like the first film, the second installment isn't going to win you over. It's admittedly a step down from it's predecessor, but fans of the first film (or ones that can get into this one) will fall in love with the bickering and idiocy of the three leads again. The chemistry between Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis is reason enough to give this comedy a chance. The laughs are fewer, but there, and this film is pretty solid overall. Critics are really hitting this film hard, but if you're in the mood to go turn your brain off for a few hours and laugh, then 'Horrible Bosses 2' may be for you.

Too Many Cooks [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Now, normally I review feature films here on my blog. But, I just can't resist one of the most bizarre, one of the most viral and one of the best shorts you'll see all year. Adult Swim is known for it's crude animated shows and downright off the wall live action shows. So when I started watching 'Too Many Cooks' for the first time, I expected an underwhelming Adult Swim production that took off for some reason. What I ended up watching was one of the best shorts you'll watch all year.

'Too Many Cooks' is a parody of 1980s and 1990s family sitcoms. More specifically the opening credits of those shows. The short then transitions into parodying crime shows, soap operas, science fiction and Saturday morning cartoons. Things takes a surreal turn, as the short turns into slasher-like mayhem, as a homicidal maniac begins to terrorize the characters introduced in the openings.

'Too Many Cooks' went viral instantly after it aired on Adult Swim, and rightfully so. It's easily one of the best things they have produced in years. It's catchy, it painfully catchy, it drives catchy into your brain. It drives home "Too Many Cooks" as the catchy song you had to endure watching sitcoms from the 80s and 90s. You got to see every element of those tropes used in the "comedy" in those shows for years and years. Then things take a dark turn when the slasher element kicks in. The kills are as gruesome as you'd expect. It's more than just a slasher flick though. The crazed man could be described a savior. Saving us from the over saturation of generic sitcom humor. You find yourself almost cheering for him as murders occur, all while "Too Many Cooks" continues to be beaten into your brain. You're saved from the generic dribble. But are you really saved, when it's all burned into your mind. The toxic nature of un-funny sitcoms can strike anyone and no one is safe. The murderous rampage set to the "Too Many Cooks" anthem is a joy to watch.

For awhile "Too Many Cooks" alongside the parody of sitcoms is a pleasure. Then it gets annoying, horrendously annoying. It comes full circle as you're brought back into one of the funniest shorts of the year. 'Too Many Cooks' is one of the darkest things you'll watch this year, as it takes this premise to infinitely bizarre places as it wears on. But stick with the short, as you may want to turn it off after a few minutes. If you haven't seen it yet, I've linked it right there below. Adult Swim has produced one of the best shorts of the year. It's a shame it's not going to get an Oscar nomination, because this is honestly, really good.