Tom Chick

Worst thing you’ll see all week: Beyond Skyline

, | Movie reviews

Beyond Skyline is a fitting sequel to Skyline in that the only interesting thing that happens happens at the end. I don’t mean the last part of the movie. I mean the end of the movie. The very very end. The moment when it’s over. In the case of the first Skyline, there was a body-swapping twist that made no sense, but was at least an intriguing premise. But then the credits rolled. Something similar happens with Beyond Skyline. By the time it’s over, it would have you believe you just watched the origin story for a Terminator style resistance to the alien invasion. The John Connor character is someone I would like to see in action. She reminds me of what brothers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner did in Wyrmwood: Road of the Damned. Bianca Bradey goes from a damsel in distress to unique zombie warrior. Is that what’s going to happen to the magical superbaby in Beyond Skyline?

Who knows, because now the credits are rolling and there was never any of the Aussie ingenuity, sass, and glee that made Wyrmwood so good. Instead, there was a blue blur of unimpressive special effects, some awkward practical monster costumes, a misguided attempt to science the shit out of the alien invasion, and a painfully generic raucous rock track with the lyric “I’m a fuckin’ American!” or something that sounds like that. The first movie mainly took place in someone’s apartment on Wilshire Boulevard, because shooting out on Los Angeles locations is expensive. The sequel would have you think it’s going to splurge on downtown Los Angeles locations, but then it literally crashes onto an Indonesian fight movie, complete with the guy from the Raid movies. So it turns into that, with lots of fight scenes for no good reason. Beyond Skyline even decides to do a little kaiju in the ruins because the ruins are here, so why not? Frank Grillo is gamely on board as leading man. Betty Gabriel, the mesmerizingly mesmerized maid from Get Out, has a thankless role, once again literally losing her mind. A cool Australian actor named Callan Mulvey plays Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now. There are also some other people in the movie.

The best part of Beyond Skyline is the handful of outtakes that play over the credits. When one of the stuntmen in an alien suit can’t quite finesse what he’s supposed to be doing with his dumb alien claw gloves and an alien plasma bomb, Frank Grillo affectionately teases the poor guy. “You’re the stupidest fucking monster I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says, laughing. “I’m just saying, you’re gonna blow us all up.” Grillo turns to the camera, grinning, holding a fake baby in one arm because there’s a plastic alien battle doo-dad attached to his other arm. He’s having the time of his life and for the briefest of moments, I’m glad I’ve seen Beyond Skyline.

Pinball FX3 gets Carnivals, Legends, and an awkward switch to another platform

, | Game reviews

I have some good news and some bad news on the Pinball FX3 front. The bad news is the Nintendo Switch version. The frame rate hitches are a real poke in the eyeball, especially given the loading times. There’s no comfortable way to control the flippers while using the screen vertically, which is one of the selling points for playing on the Switch. And most importantly, more than half of the tables are missing. None of the Marvel or Star Wars tables are available. Ouch. You’d think Disney has it out for Nintendo. Even the Bethesda tables are missing. How odd that I can play Skyrim and Doom on the Switch, but I can’t play the Skyrim and Doom pinball tables on the Switch.

But the good news is that Carnivals and Legends, the latest pair of tables for Pinball FX3, adds something good and something great to the roster of 70 tables. Or 30, if you’re playing on the Switch.

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Qt3 Games Podcast: loot chests and anime cheesecake

, | Games podcasts

Is Star Wars: Battlefront II in any better shape than it was during launch? Is it safe to play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 without being embarrassed if your wife walks in the room? What makes Injustice 2 suddenly relevant, other than the release of Justice League? The answer to these questions and more on this week’s podcast.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: that waifu that you do

, | Game diaries

The last Xenoblade Chronicles — it was numbered X, but it was really number 2, which makes this number 3, although it’s technically number 2 — built up to and was eventually based on a simple idea: wouldn’t it be cool if you could get into a giant robot and fuck shit up? There’s even a Japanese word for this concept: “mech”.

This Xenoblade Chronicles is also built on a simple idea: sexy dolls are supposedly sexy. And of course there’s a Japanese word for this concept: “waifu”.

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Worst 80s movie you’ll see all week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

, | Movie reviews

(This review was written for one of my Patreon review requests. If you’d like to compel me to watch and write about movies like this, please check out my Patreon campaign.)

I have no business telling the guys who invented the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles what they did wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway. Hey, comic book guys from the 80s, when you invent a team of superheroes, the superheroes should be different from each other. For instance, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredibles, or the Justice League. A team of superheroes shouldn’t be four copies of the same thing. Even Charlie’s Angels always have at least one non-blonde. But the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are four of the same hero. That’s not how heroes work. That’s how bad guys work. Bad guys are all indistinct copies of each other. Heros should be the opposite as sure as white hats are the opposite of black hats. Heroes should represent individuality while bad guys represent conformist masses.

But these four turtles have to wear colored bandanas so you can tell them apart. There’s the orange one, the red one, the blue one, and the purple one. Even the color scheme is a big fail for leaving out a primary color in favor of two secondary colors. I eventually noticed that each turtle uses a different weapon. The red guy uses two sais, the blue guy uses katanas, the orange guy uses nunchucks, and the purple guy uses a staff. For me, watching the 1990 movie for the first time, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is just a color and a weapon.

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A bit of madness is key in Lovecraft Letter

, | Game reviews

Seiji Kanai’s Love Letter, a game about getting a princess to like you, has come a long way in five years. Back in the day, it was a shrewd little exercise in simplicity, featuring only eight different cards in a deck of sixteen cards. Your hand size was one. On your turn, you drew a card and then discarded down to the hand size, playing the ability of the card you discarded. In other words, all you ever did was decide which of two cards you’re going to play. It was over in minutes. After a few rounds, you moved on to play a Real Game.

But then came the rewrites. The latest rewrite of Love Letter has failed its sanity check.
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Prey is the opposite of American lives

, | Game reviews

(This review was written for one of my Patreon review requests. Since Prey has been out for a while, I wrote specifically for people who have finished the game. It contains spoilers. Lots of spoilers.)

When F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, he wasn’t talking about second chances. A guy who writes Great Gatsby obviously believes in second chances. He was instead talking about the traditional structure of a three-act story. The first act sets up the conflict, the second act develops how the characters will deal with the conflict, and the third act is the climax in which everything is resolved. Fitzgerald was deriding Americans for skipping past the important second act in which the characters develop. Americans, he implied, go straight for the payoff.

Prey, a solid entry in the tradition of Bioshock, is the opposite of American lives. It is almost all second act. Continue reading →