Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game for 1-5 players, by Upper Deck (2014)

I have been doing a lot of Alien posts the past few weeks. I have to admit it is in part because of the release of Alien Covenant, but also because I simply love this franchise. Most people have at least heard of the movies in one form or another, but there is an entire universe build around these films that people may not even be familiair with. For starters there is the comic book series that expands the story beyond the movies, but there are also a lot of novels that are just as good. In 2014 Upperdeck, the publisher of the highly succesful Marvel Legendary cardgame, released Legendary Encounters. This time you would not be playing with your favorite superheroes, but instead take on the roles of the beloved characters from the Alien movies including Ellen Ripley. Is the game any good though? How about I tell you it is one of my alltime favorite games? Let’s dive right in, and see what makes this game so much fun to play.

Components

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The intimidating black box, complete with an Alien Egg as a cover.

When you open this monstrous box of goodness the first thing you will notice is the beautifully crafted “mousepad” playing mat. Why call it a mousepad? Well because it really is a mousepad, only one that covers pretty much your entire table. This being a cardgame it will come as no surprise that the rest of the contents of this game are cards. And quite a lot of them, 600 in total to be exact. All of the cards are beautifully illustrated depicting the many characters, Xenomorphs, and other situations that can  crop up in this game. But more on that down below. Last, but not least there is ofcourse a rulebook that is pretty easy to understand, and does an okay job in teaching you the game. If you still find it hard to learn the game there are some excellent playthrough videos for this game that you can find on YouTube.

Game overview

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The “mousepad” gameboard.

This game allows you to play through all four of the original Alien movies. Yes you read that correctly, you actually get to replay the four classic films. Here is how that works. When setting up the game, you pick the scenario for the film you wish to play. Each movie has three corresponding mini decks of cards, that contain different objectives that the player needs to accomplish. But these decks also include the many enemies, and events that can seriously mess up a player’s well laid out plans. This game isn’t called a deckbuilding game for nothing. When the game starts a player has his own personal deck of standard cards. These cards can be used for two things.  The first thing you can do is purchase stronger cards. In every game the player’s can select cards from the HQ that contains new characters that, once purchased are added to a player’s deck to make it stronger. And with these new cards you are able to buy cards that are even more stronger. Hence the name deckbuilding game.

The second thing you can do is attack enemies with these cards before they are able to hurt you, as well as complete objectives in order to progress through the scenario of the film. For instance when you choose to replay the movie Aliens, you need to kill three colonists from Hadley’s Hope, set up Sentry Guns, and finally defeat the Alien Queen. All of this should feel very familiar if you love the movies, and this game certainly oozes atmosphere. Each player get’s an avatar that represents the player, and that has a certain amount of lifepoints. As with most games you are dead if your lifepoints total ever reaches zero. But this being a cooperative game it is still possible to win if the other players manage to complete the objectives. As a fun sidenote,you can also make life miserable for your fellow players by becoming an alien yourself.

Difficulty

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A closer look at how the gameboard looks after set-up.

This game is very easy to learn. The best way to learn this game is by letting someone who already knows the game teach it to you while playing it. It will take you under 10 minutes to get to know the basics of the game, and from there it is an easy road to get to the game’s finer points. Winning the game however is less easy. There are some scenarios that are pretty tough to win, and will require all of a player’s skills to overcome. You can almost hear Hudson crying “Game over man, game over” way too many times. But a win is definitely not impossible. As the game is so much fun to play, it will not bother you at all if, even through all your best efforts, the game ends up in a loss.

The verdict

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Some of the cards that you are able to buy during the game, all of them characters from the first Alien film.

If it wasn’t already clear to you, I absolutely love this game. Being a huge fan of the Aliens franchise in general, this game seriously manages to recreate the atmosphere of the original films in the best way possible. Because of the sheer number of cards, and situations that can arise during the game, no two playthroughs are ever quite the same. I have played this game primarily solo, and it works exceptionally well. It is one of the best solo games in my collection, and it is one of those games that I keep very close at hand. What might interest you to know is that there is also a Legendary Encounters: Predator version of this game. That game is just as much fun, and let’s you play through the two original Predator movies. You can even combine the two games and let Ripley face the Predator, which is awesome. Last but not least an expansion for the Aliens game was released that adds more characters, a hardmode for all four movies (as if the game was not hard enough already), but also allows a player to play as the Alien Queen herself!

All in all I cannot recommend this game enough to everyone who is a fan of the Alien films. Just remember: in space no one can hear you scream! As a final note I want to say that this review is written especially for Madame Vintage, who loves the Alien franchise just as a much as I do, and has been a great friend and supporter of my blog the past few months. If you haven’t already, check out her awesome blog of movie reviews and subscribe. You won’t be disappointed! Finally ofcourse the score for this game, which should not be too much of a surprise.

I give Legendary Encounters: an Alien Deckbuilding game a 10 out of 10 score.

 

The Thing, American movie (1982)

If there is one thing (pun intended) that I like in horrormovies, it is a good monster. The more disgusting or horrifying a creature is, the better I like it. Yes, I can be weird that way but really, honestly I am a nice guy. Yes, I would not have believed myself after a comment like that either. Okay, moving on. Director John Carpenter has certainly made some of my favorite alltime horrormovies. Halloween, Christine and Prince of Darkness are just some examples of his talent for making great and chilling films, that will scare the life out of you. Sadly he has not been having such a great track record recently. His last film, The Ward dates back to 2010, and is a mostly forgettable experience. Luckily we still have his old movies to rewatch and enjoy, and the film I am about to review will always be my absolute favorite film made by this director.

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Talk to the hand really doesn’t work in this case…

In the icy cold of Antarctica we see a domestic dog running across the snowy landscape. This in itself would not be such a strange sight, were it not for the fact that a helicopter from a Norwegian camp is in hot pursuit. The dog manages to reach an American research station, where it’s occupants are roused by the noise outside. The helicopter has meanwhile settled down on the ice, and one of it’s male passengers comes out guns blazing at the terrified dog. The pilot of the chopper accidentally blows himself up, while trying to throw a thermite charge. Eventually the shooter gets killed by a member of the research station. The dog is taken in by the bewildered Americans, that are left wondering what in blazes would cause two grown men to act the way they did. The members of the research station send out their helicopter pilot MacReady together with a doctor to the Norwegian station in order to get some answers. However what they are going to find out is something more terrible than they could have imagined. A thing that is not of this world has taken refuge amongst them…..

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Man’s best friend….yeah …right….

The Thing is quite possibly one of the best horrormovies ever made. There are so many reasons that make this movie an alltime classic that it is almost impossible to name them all. But I will at least give you some of the most important ones. For one thing it’s the characters, most notably MacReady, played by a young Kurt Russell. With The Thing being able to take on any living form whatsoever, paranoia soon begins to run rampant across the station. MacReady seems to be the only one that keeps a level head, despite his colleagues that seem to mistrust pretty much everyone. Kurt does an excellent job in portraying this desperation, but he is also the true hero of this film. Russell has always excelled at playing characters that are a bit of a loner and anti-hero, and this role is no exception.

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Hey, pssst….look behind you…..

Another thing (yes these puns keep on coming, but are also unavoidable really), that is the main reason to watch this movie are the truly horrific special effects. This was an era that had no CGI effects to speak off, so all of the effects you see are practical. But they are no less impressive, or disgusting for that matter. The monster itself, in all it’s different shapes and forms is a truly horrific creature. Some of the designs seem to have come straight out of the deepest pits of hell, and are amazing to look at. Even after all these years, the effects still hold up, and manage to outdo many modern day horrorfilms.

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Yes, I know, this picture is truly disgusting….you don’t have to tell me that. 

Last but definitely not least is the story itself, that manages to truly cause a frightening atmosphere. With a creature that is able to take on any human form, simply everyone can be the monster. And that is the true strength of this film. Who can you trust? Director John Carpenter plays masterfully with this intriguing feature, with characters that slowly become more and more paranoid of each other, with every waking second. If you are a fan of horrormovies, and have yet to see this true classic I urge you to track this one down as soon as you can. It is a film that will have you in it’s clutches throughout the entire runtime, and will have moments that will leave you gasping for air. In 2011 a prequel film for this movie was made, that received some very negative reviews. But in my opinion those were pretty unfair, as I found the prequel to be every bit as enjoyable. But that is a story for another time.

I give The Thing a 10 out of 10 score.

Yuri on Ice, Anime tv series (2016)

Don’t believe the hype is a popular saying that seems to be correct in quite a few cases. If I remember correctly this line dates back to a Public Enemy song from the 80’s. It pretty much means that sometimes a film or show gets so much attention, that it is almost impossible to ignore, much less dislike it. Last year the animeseries Yuri on Ice exploded all over the blogging community and beyond. Pretty much every animeblog that I followed featured a post about it, some even had multiple posts, saying how good it was. I usually get very cautious when I see something like that happening. For one thing, the theme for the series did not appeal to me. What could be so much fun about a series that dealt with figure skating? For another I have seen so many examples of movies or tv series that got hyped but ended up being a major disappointment, that I usually try to avoid those.

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There is such a thing as getting over excited….

 

But in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I finally decided to give it a go. And I was spellbound by it….pretty much right from the moment when the opening tune of the series started playing I was hooked on this. So I guess in some cases you simply do have to believe the hype. Now when a series is loved by this many people, there is a certain pressure to do justice by it. I know a few of you have been saying they were really looking forward to this review. So to keep it in competitive iceskating terms, let’s see if I can bring in the gold medal by writing a good post for this one. This series definitely deserves it…..and really….no pressure, at all.

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It can really be lonely on the ice, but this is taking things to a whole new level 

Yuri on Ice tells the story of the 23 year old Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki. Yuri has pretty much decided to put his entire career on hold after a defeat in the Grand Prix final. He is unsure of what to do next, but decides to head back to his hometown to figure out his next move. While visiting with one of his childhood friends called Yuko, Yuri performs for her at a local ice skating rink. The routine he shows her is a perfect copy of the one from his idol the Russian figure skating champion Victor Nikiforov. To Yuri’s surprise the footage from his performance was secretly filmed, and made it’s way over to the internet. And then the impossible really happens: Victor shows up with an offer to become his coach. Will Yuri be able to revive his career with Victor’s help? With a fierce competition ahead, and rivals that lurk around every corner, the answer to that is by no means certain. Especially when there is another figure skater that ironically is also called Yuri, who is hellbent on stopping him from reaching the gold…..

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Really….you should take a breathmint, I am not kidding here. 

Now those of you that are not familiar with this series (and I doubt that there are many amongst you that are not), I can probably already see frowning. After reading the premise for this, you might be asking the same question that I did: How on Earth can this be exciting? Let me try to explain to you what makes this series so special. At the heart of this there is the relationship that develops between Yuri and Victor. Yes, these guys are both male, and yes they develop a bond that is definitely more than a simple friendship. Even though I am straight myself, I have never had any problems watching a relationship develop between two males. Really, what would the problem be? Unfortunately we are currently living in a society that does seem at times to take offense at that. To them I say: your loss! The heartwarming scenes that occur between Victor and Yuri are the absolute highlights of this series. It is all done in a very subtle and tasteful manner, and it is completely impossible not to smile when these scenes occur.

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I used to do this as well when I was a kid and did not want to go to sleep. 

Speaking of highlights the figure skating animation sequences for this series are absolutely amazing. The animation is fluid, the accompanying music breathtaking, and it all deserves multiple rewatches to take it all in. It is also hard not to get caught up in all the excitement, especially during the later episodes, when the real competitions start. At times I felt like I was watching the Eurovision Song Festival, as the anime manages to create an atmosphere that just urges you to cheer for Yuri when he is about to perform. This series is all about creating a feel good atmosphere, and in that it succeeds very, very well. The characters are diverse, likeable, but also have their flaws just like real life human beings. And that for me is what makes this anime so amazing. At times I forgot that I was even watching an animated show.

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You half expect a bull to come skating up the ice, all that is missing is the matador red cape. 

Were there no negative things to this series? Well, one might argue about a few small fanservice moments that were not necessary in my opinion. Also at times we get a few pretty abrupt changes in tone, turning it into a slapstick comedy. But these scenes were also part of it’s charm, and at times reminded me of Your lie in April. These are very minor issues however for a series that has been an absolute joy to watch. If for some reason you are feeling down on a certain day, I recommend watching this show. I guarantee that it will help you lift your spirits. If after all this you are still not convinced that this show is worth the watch, just try out the first episode. If you are not hooked after watching that, you probably won’t be. But I honestly don’t see that happening. This series is definitely a gold medal winner.

I give Yuri on Ice a 9 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: In the valley of Elah, a collaboration post with Acacia Aurora!

About four weeks ago I was approached by Acacia Aurora, also known as Auri, to do a collaboration post. This is the first time I am doing something like this, so not only am I excited for it, but I am also honored to have been given this chance. Thank you Auri! For those of you that have yet to discover her wonderful blog, you can visit her here . The blog is filled with a lot of great posts about manga and anime, and also her great art. It is well worth the visit, and ofcourse once you are there you should definitely subscribe.

Now her idea for this collaboration was very cool. We have picked a movie, and I have watched the first part of the film, while Auri watches the second part. Based on what we have seen we try to predict what happens, and has happened in the first or second part of the film. And then ofcourse we get to see if we have been right about our predictions! The movie that we have chosen is the drama In the valley of Elah, a 2007 movie starring the fantastic Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. The film is 1 hour and 56 minutes long, so I have watched the first 58 minutes. Please note that what follows will be full of spoilers, so if you have not yet watched this movie, you have been warned!

In the valley of Elah, part 1

This movie is based on a true story. Tommy Lee Jones plays the retired military police officer Hank Deerfield. His son Mike, who is a soldier, is about to return from a tour of duty in Iraq. But then things begin to get weird. Hank gets a call from the military that his son has not returned, or at the very least has gone missing, and they are about to file him as having gone AWOL. That is the military term for Absent Without Official Leave. Hank does not believe Mike would go off just like that, and is determined to find him. He at first travels to the base where his son was stationed, but that really does not help him much. The only thing he did receive was his son’s cellphone which contains a few videos made by his son in Iraq. The videos are very damaged though, and he has to enlist the help of a specialist in order to decrypt them.

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That coffee must really be good for them to smile this much.

Hank next turns to the local police department. Once there he meets up with detective Emily Sanders, a role played by Charlize Theron. Unfortunately as Mike is in the military at first she does not want to help him, as the official procedure is to file a report with the military police. With Hank getting more desperate by the minute, things take a turn for the worse. A dismembered body has been found, heavily burned and mutilated. Soon the shocking confirmation comes that it is indeed Hank’s son. The body has been found on the terrain of the army, so technically it falls under the jurisdiction of the military. At least that is what is decided at first. The murder of Hank’s son appears to have been caused by a local drug cartel, and it seems that it looks like a drug deal that has gone bad.

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Don’t look at me as if I am an idiot.

Hank does not believe for one second that his son was into drugs, and insists to be taken to the crimescene where his son’s body was found. The military police does not want to offer any kind of help, but then help comes from an unexpected corner. Detective Sanders takes Hank to the crimescene, and once there they find out that the body was moved. This means that it now becomes a police matter again. Emily takes the case to her boss, who pulls some strings to get the jurisdiction back to them. Meanwhile Hank has received a few decrypted videos from his son’s cellphone. Looking through them it seems that Mike was involved in something horrible in Iraq, but exactly what has not yet become clear.

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I wonder what she is thinking about……

With the case now back in Emily’s hands, she tries to talk to to some witnesses, but is pretty much stonewalled by the military, saying that the matter is closed and they already have their statements. Hank and Emily finally begin to work together, and and are also getting some mutual respect for each other. Emily invites him over for dinner with her young son, and also to discuss their next move. After dinner Hank tries to read a bedtime story to Emily’s son…..and it is at this point that I hit the 58 minute mark!

My impressions

So far this movie has been incredibly entertaining. Tommy Lee Jones gives one of the best performances of his entire career as the desperate father who is determined to find out the truth. But Charlize also plays very well as the detective who is also despised by her colleagues. The atmosphere for this movie is very dark and gritty. I also love the way the story so far is having some really nice twists and turns, and really keeps you guessing what will happen next. I absolutely have to contain myself not to watch any further, but ofcourse I am not going to that. And now for the hard part!

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Erm, I really don’t wish to intrude, but I think you might need a bigger flashlight.

My predictions for part 2

The big question is ofcourse: was Mike murdered by a local drug cartel? My guess is no. I think that Mike has seen something in Iraq that he was not supposed to see, and that he was murdered because of that. I also believe that this might have been done by members of his own unit. The stonewalling of the military throughout the movie so far, is making it clear to me, that they want to cover something up. It might be that  an attack in Iraq has gone bad, and they murdered civilians or something like that. I also think that both Hank and Emily will get in over their heads, and their lives will be in danger. In the end though, the truth will be revealed, and his son’s reputation restored. Emily will also finally get the respect she deserves from her colleagues, because of solving the case. Hank, though full of grief, will be able to move on and find peace. Well…at least that is what I think will happen. Let’s see if I am correct, or completely wrong. Auri: over to you! You can find out what happens next by reading Auri’s post, which you can find here.

Blog Update

Hello everyone. As some of you might have noticed there has been a lack of activity on my part. Both on publishing posts and reading and responding to posts from your own blogs. Well, the reason for this was that I have been quite ill the past few days with a very nasty type of flu. I had little to no energy and have spent most of the time in my bed, not even bothering to watch any movies,anime or tv series. (Yes I know, it’s when that is starting to happen that the alarmbells should go off). Today is the first day that I feel at least a little bit better, so I hope to catch up on all of the posts that I have missed and responding to them in the coming days. This might take me a while, as I still don’t feel quite like my old self, but I promise to get to your posts as soon as I can.

Animecon 2017

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Next weekend I will be attending the 2017 edition of Animecon. This Dutch event takes place in The Hague, and as the name suggests there will be a lot of Anime to watch. But this con has more things to offer such as a lot of workshops, a gaming room, various Asian forms of food, a dealer room, and a couple of Asian films to watch. Most notably the Korean box office hit Train to Busan will be one of the movies that will be shown there, a film that I have been looking forward to immensely. You can expect a report from this event after that weekend.

Upcoming Reviews

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As mentioned I am behind with pretty much everything at the moment, so I hope to publish at least one or two reviews the coming days. It all depends on whether or not  this annoying bug, can finally be defeated by my army of soldiers that have been training for this job for years. Yes…right. You can expect the following reviews to hit my blog in the upcoming weeks.

There is this little Animeseries that has been creating quite a buzz the past few months called Yuri on Ice. Maybe you have heard of it. I only have two more episodes to watch, but just to put your minds at ease, I absolutely loved it. The classic 1982 horrormovie The Thing is also up for a review. I will be doing a post for the Legendary Encounters Alien Deck Building Game as well. This one will be written especially for Madame Vintage. If you have yet to discover her absolutely incredible blog, click on the link and subscribe. She is a wonderful and kind hearted soul, who writes truly terrific reviews on movies both classics, and beyond. Something that is a first for my blog is a cooperative post that I have worked on together with Acacia Aurora. I am not going to give away yet what the post will be about or what we have planned, but it was a really fun idea on her part. I have been honored to have been given the chance to get to work on it, and please do click on the link provided to check out her great blog as well.

Other things you can expect to be covered in the upcoming weeks are the anime series Hundred and Kids on the Slope, the Korean drama series Bad Guys and Pinocchio, the movies Deep Star Six, Wonder Woman and the second part of the Resident Evil movie franchise, as well as a book review of the Back to the Future Ultimate Visual History. And ofcourse there will be some other stuff that usually comes up when browsing through Netflix or Crunchyroll. As always thank you for reading, I’m off to join the fight against the flu bug.

Resident Evil, Uk/German movie (2002)

I used to be a very fanatical gamer, until a completely insane online Call of Duty session pretty much ended my gaming days. I lost interest in the virtual gaming world, and went back to old school gaming otherwise known as boardgames. But that does not mean that I don’t look back on my gaming days with some great memories. One of my favorite horror games was Resident Evil. I remember a scene from the first game where you walked along a quiet corridor, and you pretty much knew something was going to happen. And ofcourse it did in the form of a horrible dog that came crashing through the window. I literally let my controller drop from my hands, that’s how much of a jumpscare I got. In 2002 Resident Evil made it’s way to the big screen, and has so far spawned five sequels. Today I rewatched the first movie which I had not seen for quite a few years.

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Some parties can get completely out of hand.

In Resident Evil the Umbrella Corporation has taken over the world by storm. The public knows the company only from their consumer goods, but the true money comes from their bioweapons research. It is a secret that they have been able to hide so far. But then something goes horribly wrong at one of their underground facilities known as the Hive. A special group of commandos is sent out to investigate. It is not long until they meet up with a mysterious woman who has lost most of her memories, and is only known as Alice. It soon becomes apparent that the artificial intelligence of the facility called the Red Queen has taken matters into her own hands. Most of the staff of the Hive have been killed off by her or so it seems. The real reason for this behaviour however is that the genetically engineered T-virus has been unleashed in the Umbrella facility. A virus that has truly horrifying consequences, as Alice and the commandos are about to find out…..

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Here doggy, doggy, doggy…..

I guess pretty much everyone that is a gamer knows that most movies based on popular videogames, have been a total waste. However I have always liked the Resident Evil films. Yes I guess they could fall into B-movie territory, but that doesn’t mean that they are not a lot of fun to watch. Quite honestly I had forgotten a lot of details from this first film. I was also pretty amazed that this movie is already 15 years old. Resident Evil does not have a perfect script, but that is not why you watch a movie such as this in the first place. On the action and horror front however it really does things right. The action scenes are done well, and the creatures featured in the film are pretty amazing to look at. Especially the fan favorite Licker monster taken straight from the games.

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Eveybody has those moments where you just feel trapped at your work. 

 

One other reason to watch this movie is actress Milla Jovovich. She plays the part of Alice, and does so very convincingly. If you pardon my language, she really knows how to kick some serious zombie ass. Her co-star Michelle Rodriguez also portrays a strong woman, and both women have a great onscreen chemistry that works incredibly well. The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable, except for maybe James Purefoy, who tries to make the best of the script that has been handed to him. All in all though this first Resident Evil movie does a pretty good job of bringing the game to life. Even if you have never played the games before, you will enjoy this film if you are into horror or action movies. The movie has a good pace, and certainly can’t be accused of being boring. Sometimes it’s just okay to sit back and watch a nice and simple popcorn movie, as I like to call it.

I give Resident Evil a 8 out of 10 score.

Labyrinth the Boardgame, a boardgame for 1-4 players by River Horse games (2016)

One of my favorite alltime childhood movies was Labyrinth. This fantasy movie from 1986 featured David Bowie as the evil Goblin King, and a young Jennifer Connelly as Sarah. Made by Jim Henson, this wonderful feelgood film had a young girl facing challenges in a magical labyrinth in order to save her baby brother from the clutches of the wicked Goblin King. This film has gained quite a cult following, and it recently was announced that a sequel to the movie is now in the works. Sadly ofcourse without David Bowie who unfortunately died last year. In 2016 the movie celebrated it’s 30th anniversary, and because of that a lot of new merchandise was released, most notably the boardgame I am about to review. If you are interested in reading more about some of my favorite childhood films, you can find them here. But now onwards with the review.

Components

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As a huge fan of this movie I was delighted to see it represented in such a lovely way. The components for this game are of a very high quality and look amazing. Contained within the box are five miniatures that represent the most important characters from the movie, including Ludo, Sarah, Sir Didymus, Hoggle and ofcourse the Goblin King himself. The board itself is a representation of the Labyrinth from the movie and looks okay, but could have been designed a little bit better. Also included are six special dice, 4 character sheets, various cards and stand-up figures and a bunch of tokens. Rounding out the game is the rulebook that explains the rules in a very clear and precise manner, as well as containing some lovely photographs from the movie.

Game overview

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In a game of Labyrinth each player takes on the role of one of the characters from the movie. The Goblin King is controlled by the game itself. Labyrinth is a cooperative game, meaning that either everyone wins, or everybody loses. Just like in the movie players are on a race against time to rescue Toby, before the clock strikes midnight and Toby becomes a goblin forever. Each character has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. For example the loveable Ludo has enormous strength, but is a bit slow in the brains department. These traits are represented by a corresponding die.

Labyrinth is played in a series of turns. During each turn a player moves his or her character across the board. The object of the game is to find the entrancecard to the Goblin city and by doing so, face a few final challenges and defeat the Goblin King. By moving across the board, players get to reveal cards. These cards almost always involve taking some kind of test by rolling a die. Failing at a test usually has a nasty side effect, but also takes up precious time. After each player has taken it’s turn the Goblin clock advances by one hour. When the clock is back in it’s original position the players lose the game.

This really means that players are under constant pressure in order to find the card that represents the entrance to the city. When the entrance is finally found, the action moves to the Goblin King’s castle, where the players have to defeat a couple of enemies in order to have Sarah face her final challenge.

Difficulty

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From a rules point of view this game is very easy to learn. The rulebook explains things very well, and pretty much everyone can learn this game in about five minutes. The game itself depends a lot on luck in order to win it. The game relies heavily on the results of the dice that are being rolled, and if you are unlucky in that department, the game can be lost very easily. That being said, there is a little bit of strategy involved in this game as well. By having players work together, it becomes easier to complete certain tests. All in all though this is a very simple game, and it does not pretend to be anything else either. Honestly from time to time, it is nice to have a game that doesn’t have you look up every single rule each time that you play it.

The Verdict

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Whether or not you will like this game will probably come down to if you are a fan of the film or not. For me, it was a wonderful experience, and it was really nice to see a lot of scenes from the movie being brought back into life this way. It’s hard not to smile when you have to repeat a certain quote from the movie in order to pass a test.  On the other hand, this game can at times be quite repetitive. The game really is not much more than having your characters race across the board, and rolling dice to complete tests. But this game is simply put, made for fans of the movie. It manages to really recreate the spirit of the film, and that’s one of the most important things for a game that is based on a movie. The score you find below my review is given as a fan. If however you have never seen the film, or hate it with a vengeance (Shame on you! Kidding ofcourse), you might want to deduct one or two points from it, depending on whether or not you like games that depend heavily on luck.

In closing I want to dedicate this review to Ludija, who is a huge fan of this movie. Hope you enjoyed reading this, and as promised we will play this game soon 😊

I give Labyrinth the boardgame a 8 out of 10 score.

Star Trek Beyond, American movie (2016)

Space: the final frontier. I think pretty much everyone that loves science fiction, must have heard these words at least once. In 1966 Gene Roddenberry created a science fiction television series called Star Trek. Strangely enough when it first aired it got cancelled after 3 seasons. A few years later the series got very popular after reruns on several different television stations. And the rest is history. Star Trek became a world wide phenomenon, spawning several television series, movies and novels. One of the things that made it unique was the fact that it presented a very positive view of the future, in which humanity had finally managed to better itself. In 2009 a new Star Trek movie was made by J.J.Abrams, who most people know as one of the minds behind the tv series Lost, and ofcourse the director of Star Wars: the Force Awakens. It was kind of a reboot for the entire Star Trek universe, and even though the movie became a huge succes, a lot of Star Trek fans did not like it all. Last year the third installment of this new version of Star trek was released, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

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Idris Elba’s skin rash had taken a turn for the worse.

In Star Trek Beyond, we meet captain Kirk at a time in his life, where he finds his job to be a bit tedious. He has kind of lost faith in his own capabilities, and is thinking of going for an admiral’s position, just to quit flying a starship. When his ship the Enterprise, visits the Federation’s newest starbase called Yorktown, a distress signal is picked up from an unknown ship. The person who sent the the signal introduces herself as Kalara, and claims her ship and her crew are stranded on a nearby planet. Soon Kirk and crew are sent out on the rescue mission. But all is not as it seems, and the Enterprise gets attacked by a swarm of powerful ships led by the villainous Krall.  Krall is searching for an ancient artifact that will bring death to the existing universe. The crew of the Enterprise are going to face their toughest mission yet, and one they might not all get out alive from….

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Why is she in my chair?

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while now, you pretty much know that I love science fiction in almost every form. As such I am not one of those people that only loves Star Trek, or only loves Star Wars for instance. As long as it is done well, I can pretty much eat science fiction movies for breakfast. That said, ever since J.J. Abrams has reimagined Star Trek, the movies have deviated from Roddenberry’s original vision for it. This third film carries the name Star Trek, but it is simply put not Star Trek anymore. It is a summer blockbuster action movie, that has entertaining moments, and some cool special effects. But sadly it does not feel like Star Trek, and that really is a shame I think.

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I really want to go home now…

 

All the actors from the new movies have returned to reprise their roles. They all do an admirable job, most notably Karl Urban, who plays doctor McCoy. Out of all the new actors that now play the parts of these legendary characters, he has always come the closest to the original role. The villain Krall is played by actor Idris Elba, who is completely unrecognisable in make up. Elba plays the part well, but Krall is just not a very interesting villain, and lacks depth. The relatively unknown actress Sofia Boutella plays the most interesting new character, the warrior woman Jaylah. Her martial arts skills are very impressive, but she also has a natural charisma that really makes you care for her character.

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Just wait until I show you to my parents, they are going to love you. 

This movie is directed by Justin Lin, who has also directed a lot of the Fast and Furious movies. The story in this movie takes a bit of a backseat, and instead we get treated to a action movie with explosions, chases, and pretty much everything that you would expect in movies like that. It certainly manages to entertain at times, but all in all I found this movie just not as good as the two previous ones. As mentioned it just doesn’t feel like a Star Trek movie anymore, and I guess that is my biggest complaint for this one. I understand that they want to make Star Trek appeal to a bigger audience, but it has now kind of lost the spirit that made Star Trek always so much fun to watch. What we are left with is a bit of hollow shell, that really isn’t a bad movie, but is simply not deserving the name Star Trek. I think Gene Roddenberry, might roll over in his grave if he knew what has become of his creation.

I give Star Trek Beyond a 7 out of 10 score.

Alien Covenant, American movie (2017)

In 2015 fans of Alien received word that Neill Blomkamp, director of the fantastic science fiction movie District 9, had plans to make a fifth Alien movie. Supposedly it would take place after the second Alien film, and pretty much ignore the events of Alien 3, a movie that many fans were disappointed by. It would also see the return of both Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn to reprise their roles as Ripley and Hicks. However, when director Ridley Scott made it clear that he had plans to make a sequel to Prometheus, the project for Alien 5 was put on hold. A real shame if you ask me, for I would have loved to see Ripley and Hicks back in action. And that brings us in a roundabout way to Alien Covenant, which is a sequel to Prometheus, but a prequel to the first Alien movie. You still with me on this? Okay, now if you want some more information about Prometheus, you can find it here. Without further ado let’s dive into Ridley Scott’s new film.

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Camping trips in the future are definitely not what we are used to right now. 

Alien Covenant takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus. We join the crew of a gigantic colony ship called Covenant, which is on a mission to a distant planet to raise a new human civilisation. During the trip something goes horribly wrong and the ship get’s damaged, waking the crew from their cryosleep. While they are trying to make repairs to the ship, a transmission is intercepted from an unknown planet. A transmission that appears to be of human origin. Abandoning their original plans, the inexperienced captain of the ship decides to check out the origin of the signal. When they finally arrive on the planet, it seems to be a match made in heaven. The planet appears to be perfect for colonisation. But looks can be very deceiving as the crew of the ship is about to find out. For the planet hides a horrifying secret. A secret so terrible that they will all soon have to fight for their lives and survival is by no means certain….

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There really is no reason to show me something like this. Put your clothes back on. 

One of the biggest complaints that people had about Prometheus is that it focussed very little on the Alien Xenomorphs. With this film, Ridley Scott brings the alien monsters back with a vengeance. From a story point of view, the movie does an okay job. We definitely get some more answers to the questions about the origins of the Alien species, as well as the fate of the survivors of the Prometheus. Still, the story is not one of it’s stronger points. This movie really brings back the horror to the franchise and in that regard it succeeds. Their are some truly terrifying and very gory scenes in the movie, that really are not for the faint at heart. Some of the new creatures in the film, are incredibly well designed. The movie starts off a bit slow, but picks up the pace in the second act, and ends in a satisfactory way.

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You really need to wipe your mouth.

The actors in the movie are all relatively unknowns, except for Michael Fassbender, who this time around also plays a different android called Walter. As in Prometheus, Fassbender again steals the show, with a very good role. The female lead this time is played by actress Katherine Waterstone, who plays the role of Daniels. Daniels can be compared to Ripley in many ways, as she is also a strong woman that eventually gets to fight against the horrifying monsters. The rest of the cast was okay, but the characters they played had little to no substance to to them, and as such were pretty forgettable. In the end the movie was a good addition to the Alien franchise, but I did not enjoy it as much as Prometheus. Still, it was nice to see the Xenomorphs back in action, and with the script for the third installment already finished, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

I give Alien:Covenant a 8 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

Prometheus, American/UK movie (2012)

Why are we here? It is a question that has not really been answered throughout human history. No matter what you believe in, I think everybody will agree that there are a lot of things in this world, that can’t and probably never will be explained. But there will be certain points in your life when you will find yourself asking that very same question. Why am I here? One thing is for sure, I am still looking for that answer. Well, before you start to think that I have completely lost it, and my blog is turning into a centre for philosophical debates, let me quickly put your minds at ease. This small introduction served as a stepping stone to my review for Prometheus, the prequel to Aliens. For it is exactly this question, and many others like it, that are featured heavily in this movie.

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Bowling in the future certainly looks different.

In the year 2089, the archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, make a discovery in Scotland that may very well alter the course of human history. Certain cave paintings give clues to the origins of the human species, and seem to include an invitation for mankind to travel towards a distant moon in the far reaches of the galaxy. The invitation seems to have been made by the creators of the human race, a mysterious species called the Engineers. Soon an expedition is funded to travel towards the distant moon, and find out the origins of humanity. Both Elizabeth and Charlie are joining this expedition and travel in stasis aboard the science vessel Prometheus. After a long journey they arrive at their destination, and together with the rest of the crew of the ship, begin to make preparations to explore the moon. However in the ancient ruins of the planet, lies a terrible secret. One that may very well mean the end of human life as we know it….

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Now if this doesn’t look cool, I don’t know what does.

Prometheus was a movie that was received with very mixed reviews at the time of it’s release. Fans of the Aliens franchise, expected a film that was very different from the movie that it turned out to be. As such a lot of fans were extremely disappointed by it. I do not count myself as one of them, for I absolutely loved this film. Even though there are enough scenes in the movie that are truly horrific, this movie simply isn’t a horrorfilm in the style of the first Alien movie. Instead it provides a background story for that film, while it also stands completely on it’s own. This is science fiction at it’s best. The way the movie looks is simply amazing, and that alone is a reason why this film is worth the watch.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Another reason is the acting that was on display for this film, especially by the amazing Michael Fassbender. He plays the role of the cold but highly intelligent android David. The chilling way that he portrays this character is absolutely stunning, and I think it is one of the best roles of his career. The role of Elizabeth Shaw is filled by actress Noomi Rapace, who also does a fine job. She is not Ellen Ripley ofcourse, but a powerful woman nonetheless who tries to make the best of it in a very hostile environment. The rest of the supporting cast, most notably Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, are great as well, even though their roles are relatively minor.

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You know that you are being watched right?

As far as filling in the blanks for the Alien movies, this movie does not completely succeed in that mission. A lot of answers that one might hope to find here, are left unanswered. As mentioned above this movie is not Alien, but it does not pretend to be so either. It is however a great piece of science fiction storytelling, with some very cool special effects and terrific acting. Those that hope to find the same experience as the original Alien movie, might have to steer clear of this film. If you love science fiction, with a light touch of horror thrown in the mix though, this film is well worth checking out.

I give Prometheus a 9 out of 10 score.

Michels Book/Boardgame/Movie review Blog

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