Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2021 – Week 2

~ Run ~

As I browse through Netflix’s library of horror films, I come across the image of a wheelchair-bound girl in what appears to be a well-lit, but slightly distorted grocery store. I wonder if this can’t be a mistake and maybe the film was tagged with the wrong genre. Alas! Run is definitely a horrifying film, and one that I found surprisingly enjoyable.

Run is the story of a young woman, Chloe, who lives out in the bush with her mother. Chloe has a long list of physical ailments. All of them, probably. And the story really kicks off when she discovers that the labels on her pill bottles are fake, and those bottles were originally prescriptions for her mother. From that point, she begins to wonder about what kind of medications she’s being given, and really her whole life situation.

The paragraph above covers roughly the first ten minutes of the film, and I honestly don’t want to write another word about what happens afterward. I’ll go ahead and say it now: Run is an excellent movie and I 100% think that you should make some time to watch it as soon as possible. Maybe even right after you’re done reading this post!

Run‘s strengths are twofold. Firstly, the two lead actresses are amazing. They do an incredible job of selling their characters, and Kiera Allen in particular was fantastic throughout. Secondly: the pacing is perfect. Normally, more grounded movies like this kind of bore me and I end up half-watching while noodling on my phone, but once the short setup was out of the way, the ball started rolling and never lost steam. The tension in the basement scene before the climax was thick enough to clobber someone with, and from that point on, I don’t think I blinked once until the credits started to roll.

I don’t know if it’ll be the one that I enjoy the most, but I have a strong feeling that Run will be the actual best film that I watch this Halloween season. Again, I highly recommend this one.

~ The Girl With All The Gifts ~

Content warning: This is a zombie movie, and I know that those are more uncool that ever these days. So if you’ve got a bias against the walking dead, then maybe just skip this mini-review.

When I read Netflix’s one-liner description of The Girl With All The Gifts, I figured, okay, it’s probably a pretty stock-standard zombie flick. But I haven’t watched one of those in years, so might as well! And because this has become part of my movie vetting process, I also looked up the Rotten Tomatoes score, which was a surprisingly high 88%! So off I went.

First thing to note: This movie has very similar high-level plot points to the video game The Last of Us. Firstly: the zombies in this film are created via fungal infection, not some random flesh-rotting disease. I actually like the ‘shroom zombies a lot better, because it kinda-sorta has a basis in reality, if you squint really hard and plug your ears and go LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU SCIENCE. Secondly: the movie is about protecting a young lady whose brain can be harvested to create a vaccine for the infection. Well, sort of.

Now, of course nothing ever works out in this kind of movie, and The Girl With All The Gifts is no different. No more than 20 minutes in, everything goes to hell as zombies swarm the super-secure military base where the vaccine-brain girl (Melanie) and a host of other children being held. Melanie, a few soldiers, and the doctor that wants to harvest Melanie’s brain escape and head out towards another super-secure military base. Spoiler, it continues to not go well.

It’s clear from the beginning that something is not quite normal about Melanie and her schoolyard chums. Halfway through the movie, we learn that she was born a mushroom-zombie, as she was still gestating when her mother was infected. “Second-generation” zomboes like her are somehow able to retain their intelligence, but still succumb quite easily to the desire to devour living flesh. Eventually this all culminates with Melanie having to choose between helping to protect humanity, or to side with the children of the ‘shrooms and become the next dominant species on Earth.

While I can’t say I was 100% invested in this one, I did quite like it. It messes around with a bunch of the hoary, old zombie tropes enough to feel unique, but then also plays every other zombie trope completely straight. But I did think that the twist on the usual character relationships (bolstered by the excellent cast) really did elevate it over the typical zombie fare. I can’t think of any other movie that had humans working together with a zombie who has access to her full mental faculties. There have to have been some! But I don’t believe that I’ve seen any.

The point I’m getting around to, though, is that yes, I would recommend The Girl With All The Gifts. Unless you’re one of those people who immediately writes off anything with zombies. This movie does an okay job of trying to be different, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near different enough to change hearts and minds that are clouded by discrimination.

Note: While looking up the poster, I learned that this film is based on a book, which probably explains why it’s been received better than most of its peers. Now where’s my Monster Island movie, dammit!?

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2021 – Week 1

2021 has been speeding by at an unprecedented rate. It seems like last week it was May and then suddenly it’s the BEST DARN SEASON OF THE YEAR, and I’m not going to let it just shimmy on by! And so, I have begun breaking out the spooky-type movies in FULL FORCE to get m’self in the mood. I mean, it’s not like there’s anyone else around here with which to get any other kind of moods going…

Anyway! Horror movies! 2021! Let’s go!

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Tales of Endings

I finished Tales of Arise the other day. Like, really, really finished. It’s not technically 100%ed, but I got the platinum trophy and have no interest in tracking down the last couple of items and treasure boxes that I missed somewhere.

But I don’t bring this up because I want to give the game a post-mortem review. No, it’s actually because I felt something unusual once that platinum trophy popped. I felt a sudden emptiness in my chest, my victory cut with a sense of loss.

I know this feeling well, I’ve had it many times before. It’s the feeling I get when a TV series that I’ve been really into comes to an end. That feeling of loss when you know that your time with these characters and their world has come to an end. Like when you’re saying goodbye to friends. Maybe it’s a little bit weird, but I think it’s mostly a testament to how well-written characters can really worm their way into your heart.

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: September 2021

~ Game Over ~

Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PC) – This one is in the same gameplay style as The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origin, and while I like it more than the former, I don’t think it’s quite as good as the latter. It’s a brisk, fun game, but a good quarter of its runtime is still caught up in level/money grinding. As usual, the soundtrack is pretty boss.

Deltarune: Chapter 1 (PC) – When the second chapter released this month, I opted to refresh myself on the first, since I last played it about two years ago. Three hours well spent, and I even beat the secret boss this time!

Deltarune: Chapter 2 (PC) – I had no idea how Toby Fox planned to continue this story, and what happened in Chapter 2 is nothing at all like I would have expected. But it was still excellent! And I’m happy that the secret boss in this one wasn’t quite as difficult as the last one… Looking forward to Chapters 3-7 being released over the next 999 years!

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Ninji Direct

There was another Nintendo Direct yesterday. It was a big one, but it actually didn’t show too many games that really excited me. There’s a new Yoko Taro card game coming out next month. That’s… I mean, I’m not all that excited about a card game, but it’s Yoko Taro, so I must. The expansion for Monster Hunter Rise and Kirby and the Forgotten Land are things that I am naturally quite “hype” about, but they’re dated for next spring, so I don’t need to think about them for a good, long while. Triangle Strategy still has a dumb name and still looks great, but again: March 2022.

I’m still excited as heck for Metroid: Dread, but it’s out in exactly two weeks, I really don’t need a new trailer? And the Deltarune: Chapter 2 announcement would have driven me wild, if I had not just played Deltarune: Chapter 2 last weekend on my computer. It was excellent!

What really blew my socks off in this Direct was the content update for Mario Golf: Super Rush. Not because I’m excited about a content update for Mario Golf: Super Rush (I have not purchased the game). No, this announcement had my jaw on the floor because of a character design for a golfer that’s being added to the game: the humble Ninji.

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New “Tales of” game, Arise!

Many, many years ago, I had a bit of a falling-out with RPGs. They just all seemed so samey and unengaging to me. Of course, nowadays I always seem to have at least one on the go at any given time, be it a new game, a classic that I’m revisiting, or something that I had overlooked along the way. I think that I’d have gone down this path one way or another, but I think a lot of the credit to getting me back on the RPG train goes to Tales of Symphonia.

Symphonia was the best of both worlds: on the RPG hand, you got a giant world to explore and plenty of dungeons to lose yourself in, all while a rich story was unfolding around you. On the… not-RPG hand, the battle system traded in menus for action, giving you the ability to move a character around a battlefield and attack enemies with combos and special moves. It actually felt a little bit like Super Smash Bros, and that was more than enough to win me over. In fact, I liked Tales of Symphonia so much that I ranked it my favourite video game of 2004. Not too shabby!

I’ve played a few other “Tales of” games since then -not all of them by any means- and they’ve run the gamut from “Maybe better than Symphonia?” to “Well that was a bust.” And of course, what I’m leading into here is that I’ve been playing the most recent game in the series, Tales of Arise. I’m only about halfway through at this point, but I’m not gonna lie: it’s looking like it might be a contender.

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PZ35/21 – September check-in

“Hey Ryan,” you say to me “you didn’t do one of these Zelda write-ups for August. Did you give up on it?”

No, I did not. There just wasn’t anything to report. I had completed Phantom Hourglass in June, and did not receive my copy of Skyward Sword HD until late July. It didn’t seem like there were any updates worth writing. But there is one now!

Skyward Sword HD is done, and… I don’t really remember how I felt about it in the end last time, but I had a pretty good time with this replay! While I believe that the motion controls are perfectly acceptable in the original version, I took advantage of the new “standard” controls that were implemented for the HD version, and they also work very well! I never thought it could be possible, given how deeply integrated the motion controls are into Skyward Sword, but Nintendo pulled it off!

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A follow-up

Remember a few days ago when I wrote a blog post about how one of my old webistes had gone kablooey and I lost (but not really) a bunch of “TE Classic” content?

Well, I haven’t been able to sleep tonight, so I went and added Part Two of my Disney World series to WordPress.

Now while I did read the whole thing over and fix a few spelling and grammatical errors, I didn’t make any significant content changes. That means that this is still a thing I wrote when I was seventeen, and as such, there may be a little cringe tucked in there.

I also uploaded the old article I wrote about The Hamburger Game. After re-reading this one… let’s just say that it might have been okay to leave it buried. Not my best work for a great many reasons.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: August 2021

~ Game Over ~

Mr. Driller: Drill Land (Switch) – I honestly can’t believe that Namco decided not to localize this back in 2002. It’s easily the most robust Mr. Driller game I’ve ever played, and the five different game modes add a good amount of variety. Though, I’m still pretty bad at Mr. Driller, so I was only barely able to pass level 2 of each mode :I

The Medium (PC) – Very good spookventure. Clearly influenced by the Silent Hill series, but removes combat altogether to make the gameplay experience a little simpler. The story is a bit opaque, but is definitely more and more interesting as you put the pieces together. Which, I think, is a hallmark of good storytelling.

Stela (Switch) – A “walk forward and solve simple platforming puzzles” game much like LIMBO or Little Nightmares. Only I got no joy out of this one. Mostly because it was completely disjointed, due to every area being totally different from the last. If Stela is telling a story, it’s an impenetrable, convoluted mess. That, and it just never really made an impression otherwise.

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Cannot find memory_lane.html

Hey so Angelfire killed off one of my old websites at some point. Not the main one, but the one that was hosting images and pages for a number of old articles, most notably my memoirs of that time my family went to Disney World. Wuh-oh!

Luckily, I have all that old stuff backed up locally, so none of it it lost forever. But it is a grim reminder that I still have a lot of “content” that needs to be brought over from Angelfire to my current site. I’d really like to get around to it, but I’m just never bored at work any more!