Jessica Jones s1e13: AKA Smile

Air Date: November 20, 2015

Rating: 10/10

After shooting Luke Cage in the face, Jessica takes him to the hospital where Claire the Night Nurse happens to be on duty. But Kilgrave has plans for her as his powers can now be used over electronic devices. Jessica has to take a stand, but Kilgrave’s powers have grown so much that Jessica’s immunity may have run its course.

This was a good finisher for the season and I think it brings the noire and superhero/action genres together very well. Actually, with that in mind, Claire’s kind of too good for this show. In a noire, everyone is corrupt, even if it’s only because of severe trauma and a minor drinking problem like Jessica, everyone is kind of at fault for something. Claire, however, is a bit of a goody-two-shoes, even though she isn’t, but compared to every other character on this show she is extremely out of place. However, they use her very well on this show, and displays how different Jessica and Claire are as characters. Also, Claire’s response of “it’s five in the morning” to Jessica’s, “Do you want a drink?” line cracked me up. Actually, maybe this show could use someone a little more “normal” like Claire just for humorous purposes like these? Then again, this show is so straight humor might be more than a bit out of place if not done in small doses like this. Just some random thoughts for a show that’s already cancelled…

Anyway, this show does a very good job of completing the arc of the first season. This are just as tense and there’s still a few twist and turns to be had. And this shows that you don’t need epic, highly-choreographed action-sequences, like in Daredevil, in order to have a climactic finish to your first season.

SCORING:

+10: An amazing finish to a (mostly) great first season

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The Boys s2e8: What I Know

Air Date: October 9, 2020

Rating: 10/10

Becca comes to Butcher to get his help in getting her son back. Meanwhile, Hughie and Starlight find dirt on Stormfront that they use to ruin her reputation. Stormfront and Homelander attack back, both for their own personal reasons. Also in this episode, Komiko thinks of something funny.

If you haven’t noticed already, I love this show! It’s not just that it can make me laugh as much as it makes me cringe, or that every character feels like a real person despite at least half of them having unrealistic superpowers. Or that every department, from props, to costumes, to music, to special effects all come together beautifully to create something epic and mind-blowing (sometimes literally…) with every episode. This is a great show because it can do all those things and still surprise you every week without ever being completely sure what’s going to happen next. This is normal humans with basically nothing, so they don’t even have the money to back up their beliefs like Lex Luthor might. These are the goons you’d find at the very bottom of a barrel in a normal comic, the guys Batman would deal with within the first 15 minutes of the night before the Joker shows up or the like, but they’re the only ones crazy enough to stand up to the most powerful among us in a society as corrupt as this one.

I suppose I’m saying I love the members of the Boys as much as I love the show the Boys. It’s not for everyone. Some might find it too gory, others too scary, others still too different from how Supes are shown in other media. But as a super-nerd with a sick sense of humor like me, this show is nearly perfect. I suppose my only complaint is that I wish that the Boys themselves would kill more Supes themselves. I mean, there’s been a lot of superhero deaths this season, but I don’t think even Komiko has killed a single one this season. I know they’re tough to kill, but many have died but there are only two times I can think of with one of the Boys killing any of them is when Hughie blows up Translucent and the other is when Butcher kills Mesmer, both which happened in the first season, and Lucy the Whale doesn’t count… I know this is kind of a weird complaint, but I’m hoping there’s more Boys-on-Supe violence in Season 3.

SCORING:

+10: An amazing, mind-blowing conclusion to season 2, I personally cannot wait until next season

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Assassin’s Creed 2

Release Date: November 17, 2009

Version: The Ezio Collection

Genre: Action/Adventure

Rating: 6.0/10

Play as Ezio, the new Italian assassin from the Renaissance as half his family is murdered under false charges and he’s on a quest for revenge to kill every single person involved in the conspiracy to do so. In completing his revenge, Ezio discovers that he’s not only performing these murders for himself, but that he’s at the center of a secret war lasting hundreds of years between the Templars, who crave control, and the Assassins, who want freedom for all.

Playability 2.4 of 4: Okay, well, the problem with this game is the same as the one before it. Instead of getting harder over time, it just gets more frustrating. It’s much better in this game, but it’s still an issue. What’s particularly disappointing is the combat. Though vastly improved from the first game in the series, it’s still mostly just hold the R-Trigger to block and hit X at the right time to counter. With that in mind, it’s more than a little stupid that there’s so much focusing on countering when there’s many enemies you just can’t counter, like the ones with axes and spears. And archers, in general, just suck to try to run away from considering how pinpoint their accuracy. And I hate people who throw rocks while you’re climbing, which at first is a miner issue, but towards the end of the game you can’t jump on a wall without every guard within shouting distant grabbing a rock until I’m surprised you aren’t just stoned to death every time. For a game that tries really hard to be placed within our own history, this type of stuff is far from realistic.

Fun Factor 2.1 of 3: A lot of the stuff I just mentioned in the above section just bleeds over to here, but it actually is a pretty fun game overall. I especially like the side quests, something the first game was completely devoid of. Though about 2/3 of the way into the game, I had all the upgrades to both Ezio and my Villa, and suddenly I had nothing else to buy. Lack of personal growth makes everything else stagnant. Imagine if in one of the Final Fantasies the level cap was 30 instead of 100, something you’d probably get to about halfway through the game. Without being able to improve your characters anymore, it makes the rest of the game kind of pointless. Which is kind of how I felt about doing anything in this game after I maxed out everything. I stopped doing everything but the main missions after that. It was just to beat it and see the ending after that point, and I’m not sure if that’s something that’s worthy of the effort.

Story 0.6 of 1: Much like the mission-to-upgrades point I just made, the story starts out great and I’m very invested in it, but as Ezio kills more and more conspirators, I just become more and more bored over time. Okay, I like assassinating people and these parts are usually interesting, if not also fun, but there are a lot of them. I feel like this story peaks about 6 chapters in, it feels like Ezio has more than avenged his family by this point. And it’s not even until chapter 9 or 10 until he even knows there’s other assassin’s and he’s actually killing Templars. It’s a fine story, I guess, but there’s so much padding around some very interesting parts, it’s hard to recommend this game for the story alone.

Graphics and Sound 0.5 of 1: Okay, the sound is totally fine. But the graphics are just plain ugly. I think it’s something to do with this updated addition of the game because I do not recall them being this bad on-last gen systems.

Replayability 0.6 of 1: There’s a lot of side missions and things to collect that give the game a lot to do, though nothing left to buy means making money from these things are entirely pointless.

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Jessica Jones s1e12: AKA Take a Bloody Number

Air Date: November 20, 2015

Rating: 10/10

After finding a, up until recently, Kilgrave-controlled Luke Cage, Jessica and Luke team-up in finding the narcissistic psychopath with superpowers. However, as it often is with Kilgrave, everything might not be as it seems.

Something I’ve noticed with superhero shows is that the most intense episode is often the second-to-last episode of the season. Something about setting up the exciting finale where who knows what’s going to happen, but it gets to a point that I pretty much expect everything to amp up to the nth degree on the penultimate episode of a season. This is slightly different from that, still stuff going on as we prepare for whatever is about to happen but more in a way that focuses on character development, relationships, and reality-based drama. Well, until it really ramps up at the end, but I think that’s par for the course on almost any television program.

This was a really good episode. I feel like it takes all the good parts of every other episode up to this point and does something really terrific which flawlessly combines elements of comic books, noire, character drama, horror, and suspense. But I guess nowadays you aren’t a real show until you can juggle five genres at once. This episode is practically a lesson in how to make great television.

SCORING:

+10: Just a really good episode

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Jessica Jones s1e11: AKA I’ve Got the Blues

Air Date: November 20, 2015

Rating: 9.5/10

As everyone is dealing with the aftermath of the last episode, Jessica is gearing up for a final stand against Kilgrave. Meanwhile, Officer Simpson seems to be on drugs and out of his mind. He thinks that Jessica is the one thing standing in his way from taking out Kilgrave himself.

Everything that I thought was making the show fall apart in the last episode or two (or three…) seems to have all of a sudden been fixed. Maybe they finally let the writer’s sleep? Just a theory. But Jessica seems to be back in form, and maybe killing off all those extra characters/plots was only better for the series as a whole? Hmmm…

Okay, the only problem I really had with this episode was the flashbacks. They weren’t terrible, really, and went along well with the rest of the episode. But I feel it doesn’t present us with anything knew, outside of showing us how Jessica herself learned she had powers, something I don’t think we actually had to see.

I do like to see how the story is evolving now. And considering this episode is fairly devoid of Kilgrave it’s like his presence is constantly felt like some evil shadow. It’s good stuff, but pretty intense at points. And I like that it’s playing heavily into noir tropes again. I mean, they were never really gone or anything, but it felt like they were taking the show in another direction for a bit there.

SCORING:

+10: A return to form for the series is very welcome in my opinion

-0.5: Unnecessary flashbacks, but they weren’t very long and fit with the tone of the episode

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Jessica Jones s1e10: AKA 1,000 Cuts

Rating: 4/10

As Officer Simpson goes from being a minor annoyance to a full-fledge supervillain, Jessica realizes she’s immune to Kilgrave’s powers and tries to reason with him. But, after a few people acting particularly stupid, Kilgrave kidnaps most of the minor characters in order to get Jessica to see things from his perspective.

I don’t usually spoil things, and I don’t want to here but this is at least minor spoilers if you don’t want to know anything about the episode at all, then you might want to watch it first:

A lot of the character deaths in this episode didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I feel it’s more of a systematic writing out most of the side plots by just killing off the main character associated with that particular storyline. It’s very strange that it all happens in one episode as well. But there’s so many of them, one death right after another, that I’m just desensitized by the time the “major character” death happens at the end. And, if there’s any proof that Jessica should have just murdered Kilgrave when she got the chance, this episode basically proves it.

I enjoyed the first half of this episode. It was exciting and, most importantly, well-written. But then something is revealed by accident and the Kilgrave Support Group decides, almost unanimously, that they should attack Jessica Jones. This is convenient for Kilgrave because he’d just been tied up by her, so they free him thinking he’s thinking Jessica’s up to something foul. And it’s plot conveniences just like that which dictates the story for the rest of the episode. It’s just bad writing, plain and simple.

SCORING:

+6: I really liked the first half of this episode, very intense, especially the moments with Simpson and Jessica’s conversation with Kilgrave

-1: Too many deaths all at once make them all meaningless

-1: The last 15 minutes is like a lesson in bad writing, specifically: don’t make things happen because the “plot demands it” work within the story itself to make things happen naturally (or do something else)

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Hocus Pocus (1993)

Rating: 8/10

Three witches from Salem, Massachusetts are brought back to life and proceed to terrorize a small town with their hilarious but deadly antics. It’s up to Max and his friends to stop them from stealing someone’s soul before Halloween is over.

This is a fun movie and though the plot may sound a little serious for children it’s actually a pretty great family flick. Bette Midler does one of her most hilarious roles ever as she and her fellow witches are essentially an evil version of the 3 Stooges and are just as funny. I think that the villains being the funny part of the film is actually a very interesting and unique take on a story like this. Where in other films they could take the same plot and do something somewhat horrifying, if not also more than a tad cheesy. But here they make a really terrific family comedy and the main reason for that is how the Witches are presented.

The parts of this film I was less enthused about was with Max. Really most of the scenes with him a little cringeworthy. It’s not Omri Katz acting either, he’s fine in this film. It’s more just what’s written around him. Though I do like some of his actions, he feels like a Gary Stu, a perfect, exceptionally lucky, self-insert character and basically just has every action he takes handed to him from someone else. And, though I like the first “he’s a virgin” joke, this is then pounded into the film to such a degree that all the humor is already gone from it by the second time it’s mentioned. And then it continues, it made me think for a minute that maybe they were setting it up so this young person was going to try to get laid at some point in the film. I’m glad Disney didn’t take it in that direction…

SCORING:

+9: A great, family-oriented, Halloween film

-1: Max is a Mary Sue, which is unfortunate, but at least the driving force of the film is the three witches, who are much funnier and better than he is

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Jessica Jones s1e9: AKA Sin Bin

Air Date: November 20, 2015

Rating: 7/10

After Jessica captures Kilgrave and locks him in a sound-proof cage, she tries desperately to track down someone to make him use his power and prove Hope’s innocence.

Again, like the one previous, this was kind of a strange episode. This season has focused a lot on using horror tropes to add to the shows premise, and I wonder if this was meant to use a different style of scary media of the “trapped in a cage” motiff. Except that really only works if we feel for the character that’s trapped in a cage. Being this is Kilgrave as the one trapped, we all know he’s evil and want him to stay in that cage. As long as no one is going to kill him, that is, I’d rather he was locked up.

This episode is weirdly trying to make me feel something for Kilgrave, but I just don’t. I understand he had a horrible childhood but that gives him no right to be evil, and not only that but he sees himself as the victim in all this. People who don’t learn from their past mistakes and can’t accept responsibility for the pain they’ve caused are irredeemable. Kilgrave projects everything he’s done onto other people. It’s why he’s always saying “they killed themselves” when confronted with what he’s done. Kilgrave isn’t worth keeping alive, is my point, and the only reason to do so is to prove Hope is innocent.

I liked the detective stuff with Jessica tracking down something to use to get a rise out of her enemy, but aside from that, I felt this episode was kind of boring until the very end of it. I feel this was to set up the end, another thing horror movies do sometimes is not really make anything exciting until the last half-hour sometimes. Something I personally would want to get rid of entirely since it’s usually just boring, unlikable people until that point and by then I’m just waiting for them to get murdered. But I also think that horror films like that just aren’t meant for genre-savvy people like me. Sorry, got a bit off track, but I’ll say that the stuff I liked was mostly out of the “Sin Bin” room, but inside that room I was mostly bored until it gets really exciting at the end. This might have something to do with me being stuck inside during quarantine, though…

SCORING:

+7: I liked all the parts that weren’t in the Sin Bin, and those parts weren’t bad really, just kinda boring

-1: This episode drags enough it makes me wonder if this episode and the one previous were meant to be a single episode they stretched out into two

+1: The excitement at the end

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The Boys s2e7: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Air Date: October 2, 2020

Rating: 10/10

In an episode that’s as fun as it is traumatizing (normal for the Boys), Butcher leaves randomly, as usual, and Hughie is left in charge of watching Lamplighter. But once Hughie realizes Starlight is in jail he and Lamplighter invade Seven tower to save her. Meanwhile, Homelander and Stormfront decide they want to be parents together and go to steal his son from Butcher’s wife.

This episode has an absolutely explosive ending. It’s such a cliffhanger that I’m really not sure what to expect next and am basically scared for every character in this show now, which I suppose is right where the creators want me as they set up the last episode of this season. The Boys are trying to take down Vought but it seems like there’s absolutely no stopping them. What can one do in the face of such hopelessness? The government can’t stop them, no one can, and if Homelander really wanted he could kill every single person alive with nothing able to stop him at all. And, since it’s Homelander, I really wouldn’t put this past him at all.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like in this episode, the only thing that really bugged me was an especially long scene between Butcher and a figure from his past, but even that was well-acted and great and provided a little more backstory for Butcher.

SCORING:

+10: This show is just getting better as the world in it just keeps getting worse. The exact opposite of reality right now!

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Assassin’s Creed

Version: Xbox 360

Release Date: November 13, 2007

Rating: 5.2/10

A secret organization has kidnapped Desmond to force him into something called the Animus. There he can relive the memories of his ancestor Altair in the Middle East during the Crusades, 1066 A.D. Desmond will learn the secret origins of the Assassins, along with the answer to a few historical mysteries along the way.

Fun Factor 1.5 of 3: I’m starting with Fun this time as that seems most important to talk about with this game. The problem is, this game starts out fun but slowly makes it all kinds of horrible. It’s fairly simple gameplay, you can climb walls, hide from guards in various locations, fight guards with a fairly easy-to-learn blocking/countering system. But the game just starts ruining all of these things.

It’s like a tabletop-RPG, narcissistic Dungeon Master who makes you play as a character he made for you, but then when you’re actually good at playing with that character he starts changing everything to counter you. Getting away from the guards too easily? We’ll make it so any guard can sprint and stab you in the back when they catch up to you. Also, did you realize you could get away by climbing up to a viewpoint? Then all viewpoints are now really low and there’s guards on every roof looking to shoot an arrow in you. You like blending in to get away? We’ll make every non-guard a “taunter” that smacks you so it’s very obvious you’re an assassin to any nearby guard who are now immediately set to recognize you at all times as soon as you get close enough. Oh, is he running through the street? Must be an assassin. Climbing a wall? Definitely an assassin. Standing still? ASSASSIN!

When the game starts out, I liked the combat quite a bit, but this too is not absent of that steamrolling DM. You get good at blocking? We’ll add a move to every attacker that let’s them grab you and throw you, also stronger hits that break your block and leave you open for a free hit. Good at countering? We’ll create several moves that you can’t counter. By the end of this game the only thing I actually had fun doing anymore was getting those viewpoints, but even those lost their flair as I mentioned above they’re extremely low to the ground, outside of a few, and don’t even seem like you would get much of a view at all, really. I think the game designers confused raising the difficulty with just making the game much more frustrating.

Playability 2 of 4: The controls are fine, outside of combat. Countering is very iffy if it’s going to work most of the time, it doesn’t help that guards start attacking both slower and faster in different instances which seriously throws off my rhythm. The problem outside of that is that your essentially doing the same things over and over again, and none of them are really worth it. With every assassination you have to do a bunch of side missions, up to six, that are either 1) Sit on a bench and listen to some guys. 2) Listen to some guys talk and then walk up behind one of them to pickpocket some document. 3) Listen to some dude talk so you can follow him somewhere secluded to beat him up. 4) Meet the informats who either make you get a bunch of flags in under a time limit, or assassinate someone in the city while staying low profile. Which I would have originally recommended these over the others because they are actually kind of fun, but what with guards becoming so ready to pounce on you any time they see you no matter how innocent you’re acting at the time, I quickly switched to doing bench-listening and pickpocketing missions as the way to get through these points as I don’t like it when things are pointlessly frustrating, I’m sure most gamers would agree with me on that.

Story 0.7 of 1: The story is okay, but only the stuff set in the present is interesting. This is because almost everyone in the past is just full to the brim with exposition and have you tell you everything in the most monotone way possible. It’s….boring is what it is. The stuff gets very interesting at the very end of the game, but I’d probably say anyone interested in jumping into this series should just watch the ending on YouTube and skip to Assassin’s Creed 2.

Sound and Graphics 0.9 of 1: Outside of the monotone voice acting, this is only area I’d say this game gets right. Things are very good looking for a game from over ten years ago. Though a lot of the character models are overused, each main character and assassination target has their own distinct look and are very different from one another. The music and sound design hold up well also.

Replay Value 0.1 of 1: Okay, there’s a bunch of flags that you can collect to unlock achievements but that’s the only thing they’re there for. And really the game doesn’t give you any incentive to collect them anyway. My point is this is the only thing you’d play the game for after it’s over. I don’t think I’d recommend giving it a second playthrough.

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