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Furie (2019) – Hai Phuong (Review)

[This review was contributed by (AF).]

Furie is a powerful, emotional and action-packed film that is nominated for Best International Picture for the 92nd Academy Awards. It features Vovinam (a Vietnam style of martial arts) and highlights the growing epidemic of human and child trafficking set in Vietnam.

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The Flash: A Flash of the Lightning | 6×02 (the CW)

In this episode of The Flash on CW, Barry and Iris begin to process the Monitor’s message. They are not willing to accept the Flash has to die to save everyone, so Barry decides to time travel to the future and see the crisis for himself.

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Joker (2019) is mind-bending (review)

I finally had the opportunity to watch Joker this week and was quite unnerved by the time the credits rolled. Before you watch this film, you may think it’s just an origin story of how the Joker came to be Batman’s greatest nemesis, but it’s far from that.

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Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is nostalgic and enjoyable (story review)

When I logged into Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, I was excited to return to the moon. There is a lot of nostalgia in returning to the moon in this game and it’s obvious as soon as you load in that Bungie was wisely aware of that.

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47 Meters Down: Uncaged (Review)

[This review was contributed by (AF).]

Following the (2017) 47 Meters Down theatrical release, the sequel, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged centers around four high school girls that take an adventure into the underwater Mayan City burial site in Mexico. Through some missteps and bad choices, they soon find themselves being hunted by great white sharks that have adapted to their cave-like surroundings. 

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The I-Land will leave you confused (Netflix)

I started watching The I-Land after stumbling across it on Netflix in the late night. I was very intrigued by the show. It’s a 7 episode series about certain death row inmates looking for redemption after committing crimes in their life.

Sounds straightforward enough until you realize that nothing makes sense at all. All of the criminals were dropped on an island with no memories of their life. The goal is to see if they could change their behavior with new circumstances. However, throwing them in an environment with different types of people hindered that because right away there were trust issues and confusion.

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Why should you watch Carol and Tuesday? (Netflix)

Carol and Tuesday is a cute story about two girls living on Mars. They are heading on their paths when they meet on a whim. But once they experience music together, they form an unbreakable bond and decide to pursue a career in music. A video of them singing goes viral due to a music producer being present in a music hall that they played in. From there they meet a music manager and begin the hard road to stardom.

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Rambo: Last Blood is a pure revenge story (review)

Here is a lesson for all children.

Usually when your parents tell you not to do something, and you have no reason to believe they would try to hurt you, it is because it’s a bad idea.

Rambo: Last Blood started calmly enough. John Rambo seemed like he had retired on his dad’s farm near the Mexico border. He lived there with his close friend Maria and her granddaughter Gabriela. Both were very dear to his heart and he considered them family.

John managed his PTSD by taking medication to “keep a lid” on his issues as he told his niece, Gabriella. Though he still built himself tunnels under the farm grounds and that is where he stayed.

Unfortunately, Gabriela wanted to find her abusive father after she graduated high school and against Maria and John’s advice, she traveled to Mexico to see him after one of her friends found out where he lived.

I’ll say this. Her friend was shifty from the moment we saw her. She was clearly not as naive as Gabriela. And when Gabriela was pretty disowned (again) by her father instead of going back to her friend’s house, the opted to go to a club. It may not have been a setup, but it might as well have been because Gabriela had no business being there.

That’s when Gabriela was drugged and abducted by the cartel.

Very sad.

I screamed at the movie screen, “Rambo I need your spidey sense to go off!” But it didn’t go off fast enough. However, word got back to Maria. She then told John and then he drove to Mexico to retrieve his niece.

He stopped taking his meds, almost smacked up her “friend”, and tracked down the cartel member responsible for selling off his niece. This gives you an idea of the headspace he was in.

Rambo: Last Blood is not easy on the mind. It’s not a feel-good heroic story. It’s sad and horrifying. When John’s niece is finally rescued she dies because of a bunch of reasons. I’m pretty sure it was mostly because they kept drugging her.

Rambo does not save the day. Rambo: Last Blood is a pure revenge story.

In the final act of the movie, Rambo goes after Gabriela’s captures and leads them back to the tunnels he’s had prepared for years under his farm. We get an intense preparation montage and then it’s on when the cartel comes to his doorsteps to avenge their fallen.

From the time they arrive on the farm, it is non-stop action. This part of the movie was amazing. Shotguns, claymores, grenades, secret passageways, and John was surgical with the shotgun. The fact that he played his own soundtrack to throw the enemies off and get them frazzled in the tunnels made Rambo feel like the iconic character that we know him as.

And finally, Rambo gets 1 on 1 with the person who ordered the demise of his niece. He tells him that he is going to gonna rip his heart out and then he actually does it! Man, what a scene!

The whole third act was nonstop impact action and excitement that keeps you looking at the screen without blinking. I am confused about if Rambo is dead or not due to injuries he sustained at the end of the movie, but either way, this is one of the best of the franchise.

IT: Chapter Two (2019) – review

Horror films are an acquired taste. Watching them offers a level of anxiety that I have to prepare for. Movies such as Sinister, Child’s Play (the 80’s version), and IT deal with supernatural hauntings and freak me out the most. 

Sitting down to watch a movie that aims to blatantly terrorize the unseen horrors that may or may not exist sucks. At least for me. Movies like IT creep me out so much that I had to send my friends to watch it before I would even think about sitting down and torturing myself. 

So I sucked it up and guess what. This movie is full of jump scares and creepy moments. Bill Skarsgård once again is the freakiest thing on the screen. The movie is very story-heavy, and you will be lost if you didn’t watch IT (2017). But the good news is, the almost 3 hours of run time was used well. 

The flashbacks in the movie were well placed. As someone who only watched IT (2017) once squinting through my hands, I appreciated the director’s thoughtfulness for the viewer. Some perspective is absolutely needed when watching this film and the flashbacks did that. Especially when you consider everyone watching this film may not have read the Stephen King book or the mini-series. The flashbacks do not make up for missing IT (2017), you’ll be lost, but like I mentioned the perspective helps.

The manifestation of childhood trauma and fears was used very well in this movie and the way that they turned that same manifestation on Pennywise in the end. 

Pennywise terrorized these children and used their fears against them when they were younger and technically they were still dealing with those effects as adults. Sure, they got away in the end on IT (2017) but IT: Chapter 2 (2019) brings them back to their hometown to face their fears once again. 

Luckily, through the power of positivity and a concept my dad likes to call “mind over matter”, these children (now adults) face their fears and banish the fear-eating spider-demon. 

All of the characters were heroes in this movie, but Mike is the one who stayed in his hometown and lived with his terrifying memories. His research leads to the Loser Club’s ability to defeat IT for good and allow everyone to get the closure they needed at the end of the movie. 

IT: Chapter 2 (2019) close to the IT saga. A very long but, epic saga that takes you on a journey with characters in peril. These characters were handicapped by the experiences of their childhood but gain redemption. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t afraid while watching this film. I was. But, that’s just how I am with horror films. 

I Am (a disappointed) Mother (Netflix)

[This review was contributed by (AF).]

As I prepared for another binge-worthy journey into Netflix, I AM MOTHER flashed across my screen as an advertisement. I watched it without going for the skip button. So, reasonably optimistic and armed with a bowl of popcorn, I pressed play.

Story

I am mother, Daughter, machine

The story is set in a hopefully uber distant future centered around an Android raising a child within a well-supplied iron fortress. As the child grows up, she becomes curious about the outside world and questions why her mother (the android) keeps her inside.

Enter Hillary Swank’s character known in the credits as woman. She is the catalyst for the young girl’s rebellion. The first act set up the movie with minimal exposition. It’s geared towards a timeline showing the child and machine’s relationship. Fast forward into adolescence and the Daughter presses the red button into action.

Now, I was ok with Clara Rugaard (the daughter) and her acting, but I thought the Swank factor would give me better quality. I was genuinely interested in the second act.

It had me saying “Really?” a couple of times.

Hilary Swank, I am mother

But ultimately, Rugaard and Swank didn’t have chemistry or maybe Swank was not happy with her Netflix movie. Either way, it showed in her performance.

Meanwhile, by the third act, the story was going down a weird path. It seemed like the directors realized they made a mistake and then tried to change directions. They added some smoke, dramatic lighting and slow walking to work in a twist try and save the movie.

Mind you, I was impressed with the computer graphics and constantly wondered, “How’d they do that?”

If you watch this movie, you are either going to be surprised or you’re going to roll your eyes at the forced surprise created by the directors. The end wasn’t executed cleanly. I didn’t accept certain character reactions and the story line pay off wasn’t enough for me, but I maintained my resolve to finish the movie.

False Artificial Intelligence

Swank, Ruggard, I am mother, Netflix

While watching this movie, I wondered if forming an attachment to a machine without a heartbeat could make one feel loved. I love my car. I gave it a name and I talk to it like it’s my baby. I repair it, take care of it and in some weird way, I feel satisfied that beyond the Sell By Date, she still works.

Our human need for companionship and familiarity, at the risk of being hurt, is based on our emotional motivation to acquire a genuine connection. Are we taking for granted that living things are the only entities that desire a connection?

Movies constantly portray the evolution of artificial intelligence as a killing enigma with a growing consciousness and essential affection for a special human. For example, The Terminator, Ex Machina, Her, I Robot and now this movie.

Yes, we always, in the end, are unable to coexist. It’s scary that we keep telling a story about trying to form a connection with a heartless machine.

I AM MOTHER isn’t the next Birdbox, so better luck next time Netflix.

Opinion: 90 Day Fiance is the worst addictive reality show on television (TLC)

I know this sounds silly, but watching 90 Day Fiance is the most ridiculous thing I’ve watched in recent history. The stories are so grand and unbelievable but in a bad way.

Watching this show is the ultimate guilty pleasure. On one hand, I can understand the grandiose idea behind finding true love on the other side of the world. On the other hand, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

What gets you hooked on the show is the producer’s and editor’s ability to keep you on edge. There is a perpetual cliff hanger that dwells in every episode that makes you want to wait until after the commercial to see what happens. And because multiple parties are being followed during a season, sometimes you won’t catch up with the couple that had most of your attention for several episodes!

The worse part of the series is how dumb they make the people look. If alien life came across 90 Day Fiance over the space digital airwaves, they would think we are the most idiotic civilization ever. Why? Because of the things these people do for love.

I guess we all risk humiliation for at some point. But watching it on TV is almost painful, it’s entertaining but cringe-worthy. Plus, when bad things happen. Like when it doesn’t work out because one of the parties is already in a relationship. Or, if its clear the couple is not going to work because one person is pushy, needy, or crazy.

90 Day Fiance forces me as a viewer to look at the stark differences between what Disney taught me growing up and what the fabricated worst-case scenario is that I’m being shown. I hate that this show forces me to be cynical. I want to believe in fairy tales forever. But after binging one season of 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days and watching some episodes of 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, I just don’t think that’s possible. But I have to commend TLC for making such an addictive show.

Control abilities and mods are the highlight of the game (review)

I found out about Control while watching a Gamescom trailer. It looked cool, so I decided to give it a try because I haven’t played a lot of single-player games in recent months. I had a good experience and particularly enjoyed the gameplay mechanics because I like absurd amounts of power creep in my games.

Control

Story (minor spoilers)

Jesse (the player character) shows up to the Federal Bureau of Control because she was called by Polaris (a paranatural entity inside of her) about her missing brother who was kidnapped from their town of Ordinary (the irony of that name).

The current director of the bureau commits suicide when she arrives and we take his gun or object of power to become the new director. A few things happen that show people in the bureau are corrupt and we go to follow that lead, but that’s mainly a backdrop for our character trying to find her brother.

We eventually find our brother, but things get a little funky because he’s infected by the HISS (an evil force that almost destroyed the Federal Bureau of Control). He tells warns us that Polaris shouldn’t be trusted. We find out that is not true and that the Polaris actually saved our life.

Things go array, our character almost gets taken over just like other characters in the game, but we are able to overcome, sort of save our brother, and vow to defeat the HISS forever.

Gameplay, Skill Tree & Mods

Control

At one point in the game, I said to myself, “If I’m going to have psychic abilities, just make me an entire scarlet witch.” That’s how much I enjoy those mechanics. I almost wish the gun wasn’t an intricate part of your powers, because the mechanics using her psychic powers were more entertaining. Picking up things and hurling them at enemies and controlling the enemies was fun. Plus, it felt like a nice little cheat code when I was getting overwhelmed by enemies as well.

The skill tree is easy enough to use. I personally just upgraded what I found I used more. I focused on health, launch, and seize respectively. As far as mods, you can swap those around to suit your style. You’ll acquire either personal or weapon mods by collecting them or craft them using resources. My favorite weapon mod is the shatter projectile choke because you can hit multiple targets at once with a shotgun you get. My favorite personal mod is Seize speed because you seize skill regenerates faster.

Overall I would say this is a very involved story dealing with psychic abilities and paranormal/paranatural entities. Remedy Entertainment definitely put a lot of thought into this story. However, gameplay mechanics by far is the most attractive part of the Control. You have to keep moving, find objects of power (like your gun), and be strategic (especially when you are weaker than the opponent). These are all components that I like in a video game.

Fire Force: S01, E08 | Infernal Insects (recap)

The episode starts with a mysterious figure vowing to the Evangelist (whoever that is) that he’ll find the Pilot Light. And then we get the epic opening theme. 

Hibana, Obi, and Hinawa discuss the research that they have on the infernos. Last episode, The Investigation of the 1st Commences, Hibana told Obi that she believes someone is creating the infernos. Her research concluded that, in all of her subjects, an insect was being introduced into the host’s body causing them to combust.

We catch up with Shinra who is still undercover with Arthur and a hand full of other Fire Soldiers investigating Special Unit 1. Hinawa shows up outside his bedroom window to get Shinra’s updated report because he has not been checking in with Obi (Special Unit 8’s captain). But he is also there with Hibana to figure out if the person creating infernos is in Special Unit 1.

After eating breakfast, an inferno alarm goes off for Special Unit 1. Everyone, including Arthur and Shinra, go to the scene. However, they are told by Karim to sit tight so they don’t confuse the squad. It is a 5 person combustion and they don’t know formations so they stand guard outside the scene. 

Rekka and Karim, Fire Force

They catch a glimpse of a man stumbling out of an ally and go to help him when they see an arm garbed in Special Unit 1 lieutenant clothes stretch out and stick a big in his back. This causes him to combust immediately. 

Shinra and Arthur chase after the culprit but run into Rekka and Karim. They back down so that they don’t blow their cover. 

Later, Arthur and Shinra follow a lead to Karim’s room where they find one of the empty insect bottles. Karim catches them and explains that he wanted to see if they were investigating the infernos as well. They may be on the same team. Karim, Shinra, and Arthur go to confront Rekka. 

Cut to Tamaki.

Tamaki, Fire Force

She is luring little kids to Rekka so that he can teach them how to fight becoming an inferno through prayer. However, unbeknownst to her, Rekka is just turning them into infernos. 

He was the mysterious person vowing to find the Pilot Light for the Evangelist. He planned to use Tamaki and frame the activities on her.

Tamaki tries to stop him but ends up getting stomped. Rekka turns a woman into an inferno and kills her immediately and then turns another little boy named Taku into one, but he doesn’t combust. 

Shinra, Fire Force

Rekka exclaims that he’s found the Pilot Light, but will continue to experiment on the remaining children. Tamaki is helpless and calls out. Luckily, Shinra was surveying the area from the sky and was able to arrive on the scene, stomping his foot in Rekka’s face, and stall his treacherous deeds by the end of the episode. 

Fire Force: S01, E07 | The Investigation of the 1st Commences (recap)

I’m playing Remnant: From the Ashes (co-op with friends) and… (review)

Remnant: From the Ashes is a gruesome game. The enemies are well designed. The scenery is very well done. Dark and dreary spaces and the minions are 100 percent creepy. I was caught off guard several times by the little minions and yelped as a result. I’m pretty sure I left my mates ears ringing a few times.

With only a few hours invested in the game, I had a pretty good time with my friends. I appreciated the shared loot component with your group mates. Most specifically because if I’m going to play a game where resources are scarce, we might as well be able to share in the profits.

I chose a Hunter class because the idea of staying away from the enemies as much as possible and providing support for my team appealed to me. The Hunter class can mark targets that have a perk that could give a critical hit on enemies to help with your fight. My two teammates we ex-cultists.

A few things stood out to me during my play session. Searching for gear and stocking your traits is important. You need to like puzzle solving. You need to play to your strengths and work with strategy. So if your team likes high concentration games, this is good for you.

The mini-bosses that we came across are mobile, hard-hitting bullet sponges. So as I mentioned, a strategy is important because these bosses do not stand in one place. As a result, my team wiped a few times, but that’s a part of the fun.

Lastly, I did play long enough to get a feel, though I didn’t invest an entire day into the game. But, in the time that my group played, we did not run into the same boss twice. That’s a very refreshing experience. I know I need to invest more time to get the full scope of the game and I’m still learning the best way to play, but my first impressions are positive. As I play further I look forward to sharing things that I find out.

Remnant: From the Ashes is available now on PC, Xbox One and PS4 developed by Gunfire Games and published by Perfect World Entertainment.

Dr. Stone S1, E7 | Where Two Million Years Have Gone (recap)

In this episode, Senku and Kohaku find a hot spring so that Kohaku can take the water to her sick sister, Ruri. Senku is thrown off at first because he believes that she confessed her undying love for him. She denies that she loves him, but confirms she likes his way of life. However, I do think she will fall for him eventually, but she is more concerned about her sister’s health right now.

The jug with the hot spring water in it is too heavy and Senku offers to carry it. He eventually falls over and decides to create a vehicle to help them transport the supplies. Kohaku believes the hot spring has healing properties. Senku knows it will not heal her sister, adding to the primitive origin. They arrive at Kohaku’s village where two guards will not let Senku in because he is an outsider.

Where Two Million Years Have Gone

Petrification, Dr. Stone

Senku is excited about finding the village and wonders where all of these people came from. He deduces that they were born post petrification due to their primitive nature and assumes he will be able to take over the village.

He encounters two guards that will not let him pass. So he tests their intelligence by creating bubbles. They don’t know what the bubbles are an immediately take a defensive stance and scream for Chrome, their village sorcerer.

Science vs. Sorcery

Chrome arrives on the scene and explains away the bubbles while popping them. This surprises Senku and he is excited that another person interested in how the world works is alive.

Chrome tries to amaze Senku by using crystals to create various colors of fire, but Senku can deduce how he achieved the fire. Seeing Chrome’s passion for sorcery makes Senku think of Shishio.

He tells Chrome that Shishio would eventually try to kill him because he too is interested in how the world works and even though he doesn’t understand everything, his existence and abilities would challenge Shishio’s purified world.

Arithmetic

Senku, Chrome, Kohaku, Dr. Stone

Chrome challenges Senku to a battle of numbers and puts up his entire lab as collateral. Whoever wins takes it all. Senku crushes Chrome easily and takes his lab for his own, but invites Chrome and the two guards to join him and Kohaku in the Kingdom of Science.

Kinro, one of the guards is settled in his ways and tells Senku that he can not come into the villages because “rules are rules”. Kinro does ease up after Senku puts a gold coating over his spear.

Kinro, Senku, Dr. Stone

While looking through the resources he gained from Chromes inventory, Senku gives shouts out to Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter.

Kohaku heads into town to see her sister, Ruri. Ruri turns out to be the priestess of the town and she is sick. Kohaku and Chrome are trying hard to figure out what can save her.

Chrome

Senku decides to tell Chrome what happened to the world with petrification over 3700 years. Chrome is overcome with grief and hope and vows to help Senku rebuild.

Senku Antibotic, Dr. Stone

Senku says he can save Ruri with an antibiotic.

Dr. Stone S1, E6 | Two Nations of the Stone World (recap)

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