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STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II: THE SOLO SEASON | Xbox One Review

RELEASED: May 16th 2018

Half a year after release, while there had been some content drops, such as bug fixes, an overhauled progression system and the ‘Night on Endor’ update that introduced Ewok Hunt into the game, Battlefront II was starting to feel rather lacking. Crait had been introduced so close to the original release date that it may as well have been part of the base game, and since then there had been no new maps or heroes.

Part of that changed with the Solo Season. While there were still no new heroes, the Solo Season pushed forward with new skins and the map Kessel, as featured in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Kessel was a fun map, but unfortunately only worked on three modes, the newly introduced Hero Deathmatch (one of my favourite modes at the time), Heroes vs. Villains and Extraction. Extraction had the opportunity to breathe new life into the game, but unfortunately was only available on Kessel and Jabba’s Palace, which had been ported over from Battelfront ’15. As such, that mode, like the rest of the game, quickly became quite stale, especially since the main game mode, Galactic Assault, was still not being catered to.

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On the plus side, the new skins were a welcome addition in this otherwise sparse content drop. It was fun, fresh off of seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story to play as the Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover variants of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. To my mind, even though Han and Lando’s prequel adventures take place ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, my headcanon in the game allowed them to be substitutes for the missing prequel-era heroes.

It was thoughts like that that made it obvious how disappointing Battlefront had become by this point. Ten years ago, LucasArts would drop two or three games a year, and under EA’s reign, we’ve had two games total. That will change next year, but it showed atrocious management of the property and made a lot of the remaining fanbase quite bitter. The remainers, like myself, were still playing, but my passion for the game was definitely starting to peter out, and I could easily go weeks at a time without picking up my controller.

All-in-all, as of May 2018, I give Battlefront II + The Solo Season:

2-stars
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Posted by on December 1, 2018 in What's Going On?

 

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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY | Blu-Ray Review

“Hey kid, I’m puttin’ together a crew. You in?”

RELEASED: May 25th 2018
DIRECTED BY: Ron Howard (/Phil Lord & Chris Miller)
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan
PRODUCED BY: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur & Simon Emmanuel
MUSIC BY:  John Powell & John Williams
STARRING:
 Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Thandie Newton, Jon Favreau & Paul Bettany

When Solo was first announced, I was one among the many people who questioned the point of this film. Why did we need to know where Han Solo had found his jacket, won the falcon and met Chewbacca when most of these things had already been referenced in previous films. And while the film itself didn’t cover Han picking out a new coat, it did retread important moments in his life such as meeting Chewbacca and Lando, winning the Millennium Falcon and even being given his name, of all things.

Many people take issue with that last one in particular. But you know what? I didn’t mind it. In fact, I quite enjoyed it, and the rest of the film. So much so that although I was initially sceptical, I came out of the movie hoping for more films following Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, or at least films about Boba Fett and Lando that used the same characters and had some sort of through line. Unfortunately, it seems that will never happen now. But at very least, we got this highly enjoyable movie before Lucasfilm opted to put their standalone features to rest.

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Five Goals for Year Twenty Four

So, I turned twenty four yesterday, and with another year of life under my belt, I decided that I would make some goals to try and better myself before I get to the halfway point to fifty.

I suppose, in a way, you could call these New Years resolutions. But for me, I find that most people (myself included) give up on New Years resolutions pretty promptly. ‘I’m going to get fit’, and then do minimal exercise going forward. ‘I’m going to give up smoking’… but after I have one more roll-up, and then another… and another. ‘I’m going to quit drinking’… ignoring the several drinks I had in the early hours of New Years day.

However, in my mind, by starting on my birthday, it’s actually a new year for me, and the fact it’s already part way into the year means that I have a little more time to consider what it is I want to be and do going forward.

It doesn’t really make a whole load of sense, but that’s just how I think of it.

Plus, these aren’t neccessarily resolutions; I am aware that I may fail at some of them. Instead, they’re goals – ones that I can work on over time and hopefully have achieved by the time I’m twenty five. They’re all things that are within my power to do, but things that I know I won’t just click my fingers and have happen.

So, with that in mind, here are my new years not-resolutions:

1. Swear less (or ideally, not at all)

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Pretty basic one. I want to swear less. I feel people of my generation tend to swear a lot. It’s kind of embedded in our culture. In fact, us youngsters swear so much that the swear words don’t really mean anything. Not anymore.

Fuck. Shit. Crap. We’ve got some real potty mouths that need washing out, because frankly, it’s unnecessary. It’s also lazy, especially for someone who wants to be a writer. There’s a wealth of words out there that don’t have rude connotations that can convey the same point as any swear word. If anything, swear words are kind of like pointless filler or poor attempts at making dialogue more humorous.

(There are exceptions of course, case-in-point:)

(I love this show)

But, if I can cut down, I’ll feel better about myself, better about my vocabulary, and, on the occasions when I do swear, it will actuall stress the severity of the point I’m making. For instance, I previously wrote a review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and to paraphrase, essentially ended with how the underlying message of the film could be read as ‘Fuck Superman’.

Like, not literally mate with him, but the implication is that the people behind the movie didn’t much care for and were trying to assassinate his character.

But you get that, you’re smart people.

2. Calm the fuck down

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This is, in a way, and extension of ‘Goal #1’, because along with cleaning out my vocabulary, I think my mental state needs a bit of spring-cleaning too.

I’m not saying I’m depressed or anything; just that I feel like I get unnecessarily agitated and rant-y (ask my mum or girlfriend, they will confirm) about certain things, and it’s not necessary.

Because at the end of the day, while there are some things that do rightfully annoy me, most of the stuff that does grind my gears is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and getting annoyed about it only serves to dampen my spirits when they don’t need to be dampened.

By being calmer, I can make steps to being more positive. Just yesterday I was debating with someone whether we were ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’ kind of people. I settled on ‘probably glass half empty’, and in a world where everything’s a bit shit rubbish, being more positive, not getting worked up over stupid things and generally being relaxed a bit more should, hopefully, lead to a brighter, ‘glass half full’ life. And if it doesn’t? Well, at least I tried.

3. Save up enough money for the Millennium Falcon

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This one takes a bit more explaining because it’s not exactly what the title point would suggest.

So, when I was younger, I was quite into LEGO. It was my favourite toy, specifically the Star Wars line. Anyway, time went on, I grew up. I still occasionally kept an eye on what LEGO put out, because frankly they’ve made leaps and bounds with their designs and ideas since I was kid, and also, it can help with film news writing because things like Marvel Movies and Star Wars can occasionally have details gleaned off of them from early set leaks.

Then, on my 23rd birthday my gal-pal bought me a new set, Darth Maul’s ship from The Phantom Menace, and my passion for the toy was reignited. I’ve bought a couple of ships since then, one of them being the Millennium Falcon from someone who actually worked on one of the movies. I don’t sit around and play with them, but the building process I find soothing, I admire the ingenious ways in which the sets come together and the process of collecting is something that, as a comic-book fan and general nerd, I am very much into.

And then, in the past year, LEGO unveiled their biggest set to commemorate the anniversary of Star Wars. And it was beautiful (as you can see above); it’s immensly detailed and ridiculously big.

And it costs £649.99.

Which, frankly, is a ludicrous amount to spend on a toy, and something that I’m fairly certain I will never do.

But having just £650 to spare to spend on whatever I wanted? £650 that’s not consigned to bills, rent, food… That would be pretty cool. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much. A lot of people have a lot more than that, but considering it’s been well over a year since I was last out of my overdraft, having money that is just mine and not owed to anyone or being saved for any particular thing. That would be cool.

4. Publish 183 articles

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Past considerations for new years resolutions have been things like ‘write every day’, which fail quicker than you can imagine. Sure, it is possible to do some writing every day, but with 365 days in the year, I am 100% sure that, were I to pursue that resolution, I would definitely miss quite a lot of days.

So instead, I’ve found a compromise. I want to have 183 new articles published before I turn twenty-five.

That can be articles on here, or for sites I write for like VultureHound and Cultured Vultures. It could even be other places, if I find other places to write for. But if I get 183 articles published before twenty five, then at least I’m halfway to writing every day, more or less. Because sometimes I may write more than one article a day, but then I won’t feel so bad if I skip the next two. As long as I reach my end goal, I’ll know I will have boosted my portfolio a significant amount and it will have perfectly set me up for my final not-resolution.

Also, yes, this blog post does count as number one.

5. Find some stability in my various projects

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In writing those 183 (or more) articles in the next year, I want to find myself in a more stable writing position. I want to get back into the habit of writing, and share these articles out across a spectrum of outlets.

The first and most obvious, is of course this blog. I have been liable to let the content coming out of it lull in previous years. Quite frequently, in fact. That needs to stop.

The second is my other blog, newtocomics.com. It’s a blog I made for my MA degree, got a distinction with, and then let die. Then it was resuscitated, then it died again. Thing is, though, I own that web address, so it really is a waste to let it die out. So I’ve decided I’m going to give it a third and final try. I’ve planned the topics I’m going to write about for the rest of the year. I’ve started buying some graphic novels on the cheap to write about (so far, I’ve ordered Watchmen, All-Star Superman, Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1, The Flash: Rebirth and Iron Man: Extremis). So I’ve got no reason not to do it, because otherwise I’m just wasting money (not just on comics, but also the fact I paid for the website).

But those are things that I’m solely responsible for, and to be honest, although increased viewership would be nice, I don’t expect it. For things I’m not writing for myself, so much as for the readers, there’s those sites I mentioned before, VH and CV. I’m just a contributor at CV, but at VH I’ve been one of the subeditors for quite some time (I recently moved section though, so I’m now focused on features rather than interviews), which means people rely on me – so that’s another driving factor in actually writing.

So if I can uphold my commitments to those two sites and keep my two blogs up and running to a degree that I could consider taking on a fifth outlet, well, that would just be swell. Not to necessarily follow through, but to find myself in a position that I’m comfortable enough that I could (although I really should, I need that money).

We’ll see how it all goes.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in What's Going On?

 

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI | Film Review

So this is it! We’ve looked through all eight of the previous films in the Star Wars saga and finally arrived at the much anticipated Last Jedi. Hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and like the following review!

RELEASED: December 15th 2017
DIRECTED BY: Rian Johnson
WRITTEN BY: Rian Johnson
PRODUCED BY: Ram Bergman & Kathleen Kennedy
MUSIC BY: John Williams
STARRING: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Kelly Marie Tran, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Laura Dern & Benicio del Toro

Compared to The Force Awakens, this film is phenomenal. Compared to most Star Wars films, this film is phenomenal. Is it one of the best Star Wars films ever? Maybe. It’s definitely one of the most original (and that’s what I’m all about).

The story is one of survival. Fresh off the heels of destroying Starkiller Base, the Resistance is forced into a hasty retreat as the fleets of the First Order find them. As Poe and Leia clash about the best way to survive, Finn and newcomer Rose hatch a plan to keep the First Order off their trail, while Rey ventures to the faraway Ahch-To to confront former Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, learn the ways of the Force and recruit him to the Resistance’s plight.

So yeah, there’s a lot going on.

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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Movie, TV & Gaming Reviews, Star Wars

 

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STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS | DVD Review

A recent trend I’ve noticed is that a lot of Star Wars fans have been turning against The Force Awakens, and in response, a lot of others who are still loyal to the film have dubbed them as toxic, with both sides seemingly oblivious to the fact that it’s the rivalry itself that is truly toxic. I only preface my review with this because my opinion, if anything, has got more positive over time, however, it’s still not the gleaming beacon of praise that some expect the response to The Force Awakens to be.

I wasn’t a big fan of the film two years ago, and I’m still not a big fan of the film now. I’m not ‘following a trend’, ‘trying to be cool’ or being critical for the sake of being critical. It’s just my opinion, as is everything on this blog. That’s how all film reviews work. You just need to find a critic whose opinions are in line with your own and follow them.

(I was going to link to my original review here to prove my point, but it looks like I either removed it or it’s on my other blog, which is currently offline, when it comes back, I’ll link to it here).

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I’m not inviting discussion. If you want to comment and debate this or any other films I review, please do! Just don’t label me a ‘hater’ because I don’t think The Force Awakens is the best film since Empire.

RELEASED: December 18th 2015
DIRECTED BY: J.J. Abrams
WRITTEN BY: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan & Michael Arndt
PRODUCED BY: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk & Kathleen Kennedy
MUSIC BY: John Williams
STARRING: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o & Max von Sydow

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll say this many times again, but I have never been more excited for any movie (and probably never will again) than I was for The Force Awakens. The promotional campaign was splendidly done, building up anticipation for over a whole year! Each trailer made me feel like my inner child had reawoken, and filled me with love and nostalgia for the franchise that always held a special place in my heart.

And that is how The Force Awakens gets you.

Saying that, it didn’t (and still hasn’t) got me.

The Force Awakens Luke.jpg

The film is set thirty years after the end of Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has gone missing, and in his absence the Empire has been reformed as the First Order. Opposing them is General Leia Organa’s Resistance, who have the backing of the New Republic. But when the Resistance learns of a map to Skywalker, the two factions come to a head, and young scavenger Rey, rogue stormtrooper Finn and loveable veteran Han Solo are caught in the middle.

The main issue I take with this film is that, as a story, it’s fundamentally lacking. In an effort to wipe away the bad taste the prequels left in everyone’s mouths, Disney pushed out a film that is like a ‘greatest hits’ compilation of the Original Trilogy. It gives you everything it knows you love, resetting characters to their original roles, and essentially, re-instigating the age old conflict between the Rebellion Resistance and the Empire First Order.

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RETURN OF THE JEDI | DVD Review

RELEASED: December 25th 1977
DIRECTED BY: Richard Marquand
WRITTEN BY: George Lucas & Lawrence Kasdan
PRODUCED BY: Howard Kazanjin
MUSIC BY: John Williams
STARRING: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, Sebastian Shaw, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Jeremy Bulloch, Temeura Morrison, Frank Oz & Warwick Davis

As I mentioned in my review of the original Star Wars, my favourite of the bunch often changes depending on a number of factors. Usually, however, it’s Return of the Jedi. Despite that, having watched the majority of the films in close proximity to one another, and in my attempt to be unbiased, there are numerous flaws I’d like to discuss about my ‘favourite’ Star Wars movie.

Return of the Sith

The film picks up shortly after the events of Empire, with Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewie, R2 and C-3PO infiltrating Jabba’s palace so they can stage a daring rescue attempt and save their friend Han Solo. With the gang reunited, Luke must finish his Jedi training, and the Rebel Alliance must unite one final time to destroy Darth Vader and the Emperor, who have gathered aboard a new, second Death Star.

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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK | DVD Review

RELEASED: May 21st 1980
DIRECTED BY: Irvin Kershner
WRITTEN BY: George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan & Leigh Brackett
PRODUCED BY: Gary Kurtz
MUSIC BY: John Williams
STARRING: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Ian McDiarmid, Jeremy Bulloch, Temuera Morrison & Frank Oz

I had nothing but praise for the original Star Wars, and to be honest, the same is pretty much true of it’s sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

While Star Wars was a great foundation, Empire ups the stakes even more, pushing characters through the ringer to get to their natural destination.

The story sees the Rebels on the run, as the Empire goes on the offensive following the destruction of the Death Star. After escaping an assault on their secret base on the planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker seeks out to find Jedi Master Yoda to learn the ways of the Force, while Han, Leia and the rest of the gang flee across the Galaxy, closely pursued by Darth Vader, who has vile plans for Skywalker and his friends.

Empire Duel

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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Star Wars

 

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