Tag Archives: Adventure

Special Features Presents: My top 10 Solo Boardgames (part 2)

Hello everyone! As you might have noticed the past week my blog has been a little bit more quiet than the previous three weeks. In fact it’s gone deadly silent. I even did not comment as much as I normally do, for which I apologise. This pretty much means only one thing really: my vacation is over and I’m back at work. The first week has been especially bad and very busy, also considering the fact that I had to work on saturday. But enough complaining about that, it’s now sunday, and I finally have time to write again. So I thought it would be a good idea to complete the request made by Arthifis (You all still know him right? Great guy, and he started writing a book as well: that is so awesome!). Anyways in case you missed the first part, he requested I make a list of some of my favorite solo boardgames. Here in part two I’m going into my personal top five. Not only are these games great to play alone, they really are some of my alltime favorite games period.

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Just one more thing: again I would like to point out my favorite Youtube Boardgame Channel: The Vitruvian Gamer. This week he has also started a new feature on his channel as well, where in small 7-10 minute segments he talks about boardgames, the channel, and life in general. It really is a great place to visit. A few of the games listed below have been featured on his channel, and as I pointed out in part 1, he really is a great host as well. Always kind, and with very insigthful and fun to watch videos it’s a great way to spent some time on Youtube. And hey, you might even end up discovering a new game that you would like to try out as well, so how cool is that. Below is one of his videos for a game that I will talk about later on in this post. Okay, enough talking, let’s get cracking!

5: Ascension

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Ascension is a deckbuilding cardgame. Yes, that sounds like a really difficult term, but it truly isn’t. A player starts out with a relatively weak basic hand of cards. During the course of the game, you can buy new cards with the weaker ones and add them to your deck of existing cards. In this way you can make your deck more powerful. Ascension takes place in a fantasy world, and when you play the game solo you are basically fighting against an unseen opponent. By defeating monsters, and aquiring new cards you have to try and gain more points then your foe before the game ends. The fun thing about Ascension is that is a really simple game to learn (about 5 minutes), and there are now a lot of expansions as well. But, each set released stands on it’s own. In other words you can combine all the sets, or just play with one set. This offers a lot of choices, while at the same time it won’t overwhelm new players which is nice too.

4: Xenoshyft: Dreadmire

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This is another deckbuilding game, so it uses the same mechanics as above. But, this one comes with a neat twist. Set in a science fiction universe, and a quite horrible one at that, Xenoshyft Dreadmire allows you to play as the commander of a base from the Nortec Corporation. This company mines planets for a new and powerful energy source. However this energy source has a dangerous side effect as it turns the native animals into horrible monsters. During the course of nine rounds, that become ever more difficult, you have to defend the base from these creatures. This game is tough as nails, and very hard to win. But despite that fact it’s enormously fun to play. The artwork alone should be enough to sell you on buying it. If you like a good challenge this is the one to look into! More info on this game be found in my review.

3. Elder Sign

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Elder Sign is one of the best games that I have ever played. It’s a fusion between a dice and a cardgame and it’s an absolute joy to play. You take on the role of an investigator, that tries to stop an ancient evil from awakening and plunging the world into darkness. The base game takes place in an old museum, where you are desperately trying to find the so called elder signs. Depending on which Ancient One you are trying to defeat, you have to discover a set amount of these tokens, before time runs out. Using dice, you explore rooms in the museum, where you try to overcome traps, monsters, and other unspeakable horrors. By investigating rooms, you can find new weapons, spells, clues and other stuff to make you more powerful, as well as the elder signs themselves. As the game has an enormous amount of cards, and the set up is different each time, the game has tremendous replay value. With a lot of expansions having been released for it as well, you will not get bored by this game anytime soon.

2. Legendary (Encounters)

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Legendary and Legendary Encounters are all deckbuilders (yes again), but are also a blast to play. Legendary is probably best known for it’s Marvel sets. With a huge amount of available cards for these now, you put together your own superhero team in order to fight against one of the villains from the Marvel Universe. Ever wanted to have a team up between Wolverine and Iron Man? Well now you can achieve this. But Legendary has more to offer. In Legendary Encounters you can play through some of your favorite science fiction movies and television series. There are now sets for Aliens, Predator, Firefly and an upcoming one for The X-files. What differs these sets from their Legendary counterparts is that you actually play through scenarios from the movies and shows themselves, which is a lot of fun especially if you are a fan of these. Variety is the keyword here, as the normal Legendary has also games for cult movie Big Trouble in Little China as well as the television series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

1. Eldritch Horror

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So why is this game my number one? Well, the simple answer would be just read my Eldritch Horror review. But that would be cheating. This game is pretty much the bigger cousin of Elder Sign. Travelling around the entire world, you have to discover enough clues to find out what kind of ancient evil is trying to take over the world. You explore cities, ancient ruins, tombs and all kinds of other places. Narrative cards explain what exactly happens to you when you enter a certain place. And this is what makes the game so much fun to play. It sometimes feels like you are starring in your own adventure/horror movie. Every game is different, and has both strategy elements to it, as well as luck in the form of dice rolls. It’s by no means an easy game to win, and it takes a bit of time to set up. But other than that it’s always been the game that I have really enjoyed the most playing solo.

So, there we have it. Now this list is by no means complete, and there are games still lurking around in my collection that I haven’t even played yet. So maybe, there are other games that are even better than these. I certainly have a number of other suggestions too, that didn’t make the cut. So if you want even more options do take a look around at the boardgame section of my blog. As always thank you for reading!

 

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Hold the Dark, American Movie (2018)

I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter again, which means the sun is beginning to set earlier and it becomes darker more quickly in the evening. Yes, I know many of you are probably disagreeing with me at this point, but I love it. It’s perfect for watching horror movies, or just cozying up in bed with a good book. One would almost think that I am a vampire or something, however as far as I know that is not the case. But at certain points in the world the sun is hardly seen at all during winter time. Now that might be taking things a little bit too far I guess. Alaska for instance has some places where the darkness settles in after barely three to five hours of sunlight. Now just imagine that if you will. I think a lot of people might simply go nuts as it takes some getting used to. That said though, those barren winter landscapes makes for some amazing imagery. It also serves as a perfect backdrop for some great movies as we have seen for instance in The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week a new movie came out over on Netflix which also utilises this cold and harsh environment. Is it a good film though? Well, let me talk you through it.

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Hi honey, sorry I’m stuck in traffic. I will be late again….

Hold the Dark takes places in the year 2004 in a very small village called Keelut deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Something truly dreadful has been happening there lately. Three small children have disappeared and are presumably dead, as their captors seemed to have been a pack of wolves. Medora Slone, the mother of the last child that has gone missing, calls in the help of a retired naturalist called Russell Core. This man who is an expert in wolves heeds the call of the grieving mother and soon arrives in the village. Meanwhile Medora’s husband, Vernon, is serving a tour in Iraq and is having his own share of troubles. He is as yet unaware of his son’s disappearence and his wife has so far not been able to share the horrible news with him. Russell has set off in search of the boy and to track down the wolves that are responsible for his capture. However not all is at seems. Darker and more sinister secrets are about to be revealed, and Russel finds himself in the middle of something that he simply did not expect to find…

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Trick or treat came early this year.

Did you ever watch a movie and when it ended you did not quite know how you felt about it? This was one of those films. Well, at least for me it was. I’m not saying this was a bad film, because really it wasn’t. But it’s also a movie that I felt could have been more, although I can’t quite put a finger on it what that more might just be. But let’s first get into the positives. One of the main selling points of this movie is once again the majestic and very cold landscape. It’s all shot beautifully, and adds to the sense of dread that this film is trying to achieve, and at which it also partially succeeds. You can’t help but feel very uneasy during most of the run time of this two hour movie. Hauntingly bleak visuals combined with a melancholic score certainly seem to capture the effect of what this movie was aiming for. The pacing of the film though was uneven. It was at times a rather slow film, and setting the tone for a creepy atmosphere can only get you so far.

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Awwwwwwwwwwww.

The performances in this film though were also definitely worth seeing. Jeffrey Wright who played the role of the aging Russel managed to create a very sympathetic character. It’s nice to see someone who really isn’t this macho superhero, but a more subdued and normal guy, who gets caught in something that is way above his head. I always like the underdog types, and Russel could definitely be classified as such. The role of Vernon was fulfilled by Alexander Skarsgård, and he made that role into a very chilling and sinister man. It’s definitely clear that the war in Iraq hasn’t left him without a few mental scars, as Vernon was an emotionless and very, very dangerous individual. It was a terrific part, and Skarsgård played it to perfection. Lastly James Badge Dale, who had a relatively minor role as a police officer also left a lasting impression. Even though he isn’t a very well known actor, he really rises above himself with an impressive performance.

Jeffrey Wright in the new film Hold the Dark. Photo credit: Netflix
I don’t know but shouldn’t those goggles be on your face?

Hold the Dark is a bit of a strange movie which is also pretty hard to classify. The story certainly has a number of shocking twists, and for lack of a better term WTF moments. But at the same time it also has trouble in finding out where exactly it wants to go. Is it a thriller? Is it an action film? Or even a drama? It’s pretty hard to say to be honest. Some of the scenes, especially in the beginning of the film just dragged on for too long. And I feel that if the film would have had a bit of a shorter runtime it might have been a better movie. That said though, there is still enough in this dark film (pun intended) for me to recommend it to you. The story is very interesting and has some pretty gruesome moments. Add to this some great actors, a tense and foreboding atmosphere and the beautiful landscape and it’s a movie that I feel is still worth your time. If you are not a fan of slow movies though, you might want to skip this.

I give Hold the Dark a 7 out of 10 score.

 

He-man and the Masters of the Universe: Mini Comic Collection (2015)

I grew up in the 80’s and for me that was a time that I remember fondly for two things: saturday morning cartoons, and the wonderful toys that these cartoons got their inspiration from. When I was a kid I used to get up at about 7 o’clock in the morning on saturday, turn on the tv to Sky Channel and there it was: the program that set my young eyes alight: Fun Factory. For the first two hours or so, Fun Factory was okayish. But things became really interesting when the “big three” came on: M.A.S.K., He-man and Transformers. Ahhh..to think back on those days, even though they are so many years ago (jeezzzzz I really AM getting old), just brings a smile to my face. When you look at the cartoons from this era and compare them to the golden oldies from the 80’s one can only say that they just don’t make them like they used too. I was and still am a huge Transformers fan (like many kids back in those days). But one of the biggest rivals of Transformers, a dude with a big sword called He-man, honestly failed to impress me. I never bought a He-man toy, and I really did not enjoy the cartoon as much.

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This is a pretty big book alright.

Now, thirty years later, I came into posession of the complete series of He-man and the Masters of the Universe on dvd. And…I am loving it. For some reason I have found a new appreciation of the cartoon, but that is a story for another day. As is most often the case when I all of a sudden have a new obsession, I want to find out more about it. And that brings me to this incredible tome that was released a few years back by Dark Horse comics. He-man and the Masters of the Universe Mini Comic Collection reproduces the comics that came with the toys. Well as I was never interested in the toys in the first place I did not even know of the existence of these comics until I read about this book. The first thing you will notice is how thick this book is (and for that matter how much it weighs). With a massive 1232 pages it will take you a while to get through it all. So what exactly does this book offer you?

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Gotta love that retro comic book style.

This being a comic collection it will not come as a huge surprise when I tell you this humongous book contains comics, and a lot of them. Nearly 70 comics in total are collected here, ranging from the orginal 1982 toylines of He-man and his sister She-ra to a shortlived comic run that should have served as a revival for the series but never quite took off. Besides the comics themselves it also contains a wealth of background info on the series,  which includes interviews with some of the writers and pencilers that created these works of art. And I do mean art. As you might have noticed from a couple of the shots I have included in this post, there was some major talent involved when you like at the drawings alone. I love the oldschool style of some of these comics, and for anyone who grew up with comics in the 80’s it’s hard to not smile at the nostalgic feel of it all. At the start of this run, you could hardly speak of comics as they were more stories that were accompanied by pictures. Later the series evolved and became more traditional looking comics.

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The early comics could not really be called comics in the traditional sense of the word.

The art is good, but how are the stories themselves? Well, they range from totally awesome to downright sucky, if you will pardon my French. But overall though most of the comics are pretty cool. It’s classic good vs evil type of storytelling where He-man fights against his nemesis the evil lord Skeletor and his henchmen. A fun fact to know is that one of the comics was written by Robert Kirkman. If that name doesn’t ring a bell he is the creator of a little known comicbook/tv series called The Walking Dead. This being a kid show, are these comics any fun to read when you are an adult? Well, quite frankly yes. He-man always has been a series that targeted an audience of 12 years and older (and ofcourse younger children still watched it anyway because it was cool to do so), and as such some of the stories and comics depict some pretty gruesome creatures and situations. In fact one of the covers of these comics caused quite a big disturbance at the time of it’s release because it was very brutal and had parents all over the world in uproar.

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Gee, I wonder why parents got upset by this cover?

This book is absolutely amazing. If you have a warm heart towards 80’s cartoons, or a love for oldschool type comics, this is a collection that you just have to pick up. It isn’t even a very expensive book, and for the amount of stuff it contains it is well worth the price. It gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of these mini-comics and the amount of work that went into creating these. Even if you have never heard of He-man it’s worth checking it out, especially if you like fantasy type storytelling combined with some of the best art possible. Even though not all of the comics are of the same quality, you will get enough of a kick out of these to make you enjoy it, and forget about some of the lesser comics. In other words go and relive your childhood if you grew up with these cartoons, and buy this book. I promise you, you will not regret it. By the power of Grayskull: I HAVE THE POWERRRRRR!!!!!!

I give He-man the Masters of the Universe mini comic collection a 9 out of 10 score.

Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale, Japanese (animated) movie (2017)

The world of computergames is vast. Some say it is currently one of the biggest entertainment mediums, bigger even than Hollywood movies. Many of you already know this but I used to be a very fanatical gamer. One could argue that I was so fanatical that it wasn’t even healthy anymore. But that’s a thing of the past now, as I have stopped playing computergames altogether, well on consoles that is. I do play the occasional game on my Ipad, but that’s nowhere near the level of games that I was used to playing. Games these days are becoming ever more immersive, with virtual reality being one of the latest trends. Putting on special goggles, gamers can experience the gaming world in a way that is almost lifelike. I do say almost, as of course the technology isn’t anywhere close to the things you sometimes see in science fiction movies. Two years ago, around the time when my blog was up and running for a few months, I discovered the anime Sword Art Online, which focusses heavily on virtual reality gaming. It fast became one of my alltime favorite animeseries and now I have a huge collection of merchandise from that series (proving once again my point that I can truly become obsessed when I like something).

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Don’t look now, but I think you might have something stuck in your ear.

Last year a movie that was a follow-up to the series saw the light of day, and now I finally had the chance to see this one for myself as it was released on dvd two weeks ago. (Well here in Europe anyway). Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah it was! It is the year 2026, and the world is under the spell of the Augma device, a new system that allows players all over the world to simulate reality while still being conscious. As a few years prior players became trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art online, that used a full dive system, this new device is deemed much safer. We once again meet up with Kirito and Asuna, both survivors of the horrible SOA event, and not surprisingly both are also using the Augma to play the newest and most popular game Ordinal Scale. Although Kirito doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself as much. But then a new event is introduced to the game: old boss monsters from the Sword Art Online world begin appearing accompanied by the mysterious AI idol singer Yuna. What at first seems like a fun and welcome addition to the game, soon begins to take on a much more sinister shape. With Asuna’s life on the line, Kirito has to find out what is going on, before it’s too late. But it might already be too late, for Kirito seems to have met his match in the form of a player that is able to counter his every move….

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Gotta love Asuna’s new look in this film.

Sword Art Online is a series that is hated upon by a lot of animefans. I’m not going to start up that old discussion as I am here to talk about this movie. Suffice it to say though that I am a huge fan of this anime, in fact so much so that it has taken up a spot on my personal top 3 of favorite animeseries. When I first heard about the fact that there would finally be something coming out that would continue the storyline I was delighted. At the same time though I also felt anxious. What if it would suck? Well, having finally been able to see this film now, I am very glad to let you all know that my fears were unfounded. If you are a fan of the animeseries you will love this. Let’s talk about the storyline first. One of the things I really liked about it, is the way it treated the main characters of Asuna and especially Kirito. It was very refreshing to see the latter being out of his element and not the powerhouse player we are used to seeing in the series. Kirito really struggles within this new life and death game, and it takes him a long while to adapt. Asuna also at a certain point becomes very vulnerable, and it’s a side we are not always used to seeing from the starstruck couple. It’s their relationship and love for each other that continues to be heartwarming, and very touching though.

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GET READYYYYYYY: FIGHT!!!!

Another thing I liked about the film’s story is some of the questions it asked that really made you think.What if you were able to forget about things from your past that were not very happy thoughts or events?  Would you do that if you were able to? Or are they a part of your life no matter how unhappy these memories might be? I think that is an intriguing question and one that could almost be the topic for an entire post or at the very least a lively discussion. The movie runs for two hours, and it is in my opinion just a tad bit too long. Some of the story elements felt a bit forced, and a few of the side characters had way too little screentime, but were probably just added to the mix for the fans. Nevertheless there are also quite a few things in it for fans of the original series that will in all likelyhood give you a few goosebumps. On the action front the film doesn’t disappoint. Even though it’s not a full on fight fest, there are enough action scenes in the film that make it very satisfying. The fights also feel much more threatening and dangerous.

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I just love my special edition boxed set version of this movie 😀

 

While the animation might not be as beautiful as some of the higher level animefilms out there, I still found it to be very decent, with some spectacular setpieces. The new outfits for most of the characters also worked quite well and had a really nice look to it. Another thing that plays a big role in this film is the music. With the introduction of the new character of Yuna, an AI idol singer, there were quite a number of scenes that featured her singing. At times it almost felt as if I was watching a new installment of the  Macross saga. But I have to admit that this element did work quite well and wasn’t distracting in the least. The music featured in the film fits the tone of Sword Art Online and as such is very pleasing to the ear. Even though the film can be watched on it’s own without any prior knowledge of the world of Sword Art Online, you will find it more enjoyable if you first watch the original anime. If you hated SOA in the first place, this movie won’t make you love the series all of a sudden. For the fans though this is a more than decent follow up to the original anime and with the words Sword Art Online will return at the end of the credits, we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of Kirito and Asuna. And I would not have it any other way. Link start !

I give Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale a 8 out of 10 score.

The Cabinet of Curiosities, a novel by Preston&Child (2002)

If there is one thing I like in a novel, it’s when it completely makes you forget your surroundings or causes you to lose track of time. That is one of the highest levels of praise a book can receive, and if it manages to do that in some way, it is usually because it was written by an author that is an expert. And is also very skilled in torture. Huh? Torture? Well yes of course. Don’t you just hate it when you decided to read one more chapter before turning to sleep and end up reading five more because you just have to find out what happened to a certain character? That you just can’t stop, because if you do you feel like your mind just can’t take it anymore? Hence the torture part. I had previously read two other novels by Preston and Childs, The Relic and Reliquary, and they both featured a character that some describe as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I’m talking about FBI Special Agent Pendergast, but I honestly don’t really see him like that. But more on that below. This third Pendergast novel though, takes you on a relentless rollercoaster ride, that doesn’t let up until you reach the final page. Not that the previous two novels weren’t good or anything, but this one takes things to a whole other level of excitement.

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The Cabinet of Curiosities starts off on a construction site in Manhattan where a ghastly discovery is made. A tunnel is unearthed that contains the mutilated bodies of 36 young people. All of the remains had parts of their spine remove. It is not before long that agent Pendergast arrives at the grissly scene together with Dr. Nora Kelly, an archeologist who works at the Museum of Natural History. She is very relucant at first to help him, as she finds the pale man a very strange and peculiar individual. Soon though her own curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to try and discover the truth about what really happened. It soon becomes clear that all of the people have been murdered in a horrifying way almost 130 years ago. What the exact motive was of the killer is at first unclear. But the case becomes even more terrifying when it seems that the murders are starting up again. This has to be a copycat killer though right? With the police and the mayor trying to thwart Pendergast at every turn because of ulterior motives, it becomes increasingly more difficult for him and Kelly to solve the case. In the meantime the killings continue…..

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This was a book that I would like to call a real pageturner. It’s been quite a while since I have read a novel that had me gasping for breath at almost every page. But this one managed to achieve that, and then some. The writing style of Preston & Child is terrific. They manage to describe their scenes in a very vivid way, and crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level. Which is exactly how I like my books. No matter how great your story is, if you have characters that you don’t care about in any way, you will probably lose your audience. But the writer duo has you covered there as well, as it contains quite a number of indivuals that you will grow to love (as well as hate, for a few of them are pretty despicable indeed). But it’s agent Pendergast that is the driving force of this book, more so than in the previous installments. I’d like to think of him as kind of mix between Indiana Jones and Jack Bauer. He is mysterious, resourceful, tough as nails, while at the same time he has a very big heart that people might not notice right away.

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If I were to name some negative points to this books, it’s the use of quite a number of pretty difficult medical and forensic terms. My grasp of the English language is quite good, but there were a few times where I struggled to understand the meaning of certain terms. But luckily this never managed to put me off in any way, as the story is just too good for that. This novel can be read without having knowledge of the events of the earlier two books, although you will probably enjoy it even more if you have read those. If you like tense and gripping thrillers about serial killers, with a slightly supernatural edge to it, this is one book you should check out ASAP. It’s guaranteed to cause you some sleepless nights (in fact I dare you not to complete this one in one day: it really is that good). In closing I would like to dedicate this review to the wonderful Kim. She is truly an amazing individual who is someone that has always managed to inspire me with the posts she writes. Kind, positive and always there for other people are some of the qualities that describe her best. Go and check out her wonderful blog about the world of the written word. I promise you won’t regret doing so. As always, thank you for reading.

I give The Cabinet of Curiosities a 9 out of 10 score.

March Theme Reveal: Anime

Goodmorning, goodafternoon , goodevening, or maybe even goodnight! No idea when you are reading this post ofcourse, but I always try to be polite. So, we are already at the halfway point of February, and that means it is time to reveal the theme for next month. A few of you already knew about this (because really I am terrible at keeping secrets), but for those of you that didn’t yet know or for some reason missed the title of this post: it’s anime! I’m very excited for this month, for not only is it a theme that is very close to my heart, it’s also because if all goes well I have some collab posts lined up that I am really looking forward to. Just like last month I am going to ask you for some help again. For this month I am going to be reviewing two animes that will be selected by you the readers. And yes…..there are again a couple of rules for this. Ugh….I know I hate them too. But let’s get them over with, shall we?

The Rules

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Ughhhh…rules? Again? This is getting so annoying!

Well, don’t worry I’m not going to make them very tough again, so here goes:

  • The anime must either be on Crunchyroll or Netflix (please bear in mind that I live in Holland, so not every show might be available to me. If it isn’t I ofcourse will let you know, so you are able to choose another one)
  • The anime must have a maximum length of 12-13 episodes (It can be a first season, if it has that number of episodes)
  • Any genre of anime is allowed, except full on comedy series (sorry, I just don’t like that genre and would not even know how to write a review for that)
  • Leave your choice for the two animes in the comments section
  • You can leave a comment on this post up until the 25th of February
  • The two animes that will be selected will be revealed on the 1st of March and just like last month I am going to use a random number generator to determine who has won
  • The two bloggers that have won will get an honorable mention on my blog

That’s it! Pretty simple huh? As always I want to thank you for your help, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you are going to come up with. Rest assured for the people that are not into anime, there will still be other content as well such as movie reviews and hopefully another Korean drama series. See you on the next post!

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Okay, let’s get out of here!

 

The official making of Big Trouble in Little China, a book written by Tara Bennet & Paul Terry (2016)

Director John Carpenter will always be one of my favorite alltime horror movie directors. Best known for movies such as The Thing and Halloween he has made an impact on this genre that is felt even today. One of his lesser known, but no less fun movies is Big Trouble in Little China. While this one technically can not really be called a horror movie, it’s one of those films that has gathered a real cult status amongst fans, myself included. Two years ago, the movie celebrated it’s 30th anniversary, and as often happens during events like that some cool products were released to help celebrate it. One of the things I always enjoy reading is books that detail how a certain film was made, especially if they contain some cool facts and nice artwork. To my delight, finally John Carpenter’s classic got a book like that as well. And as Kurt Russel’s character Jack Burton from the movie would say: “Great, a six demon bag. What’s in it?”

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“Son of a bitch must pay!!” 

Within the pages of this 176 page book you will find a lot of awesome never before seen photographs, that could definitely be called the highlight of this book. Included are promotional photographs, behind the scenes pictures, stills from the movie itself, and a lot of detailed artwork. All of these are printed in very high quality resolution, and every photograph no matter how small, get’s a description of what it shows. The latter might seem very obvious, but trust me when I say that there have also been making of books that did not include this information. That always annoys me to no end, because there have truly been some occasions where I would have loved to have found out what a certain picture depicted. The entire layout of the book, breathes the atmosphere of this great film, and the designers of this did a great job on that department. The book pretty much follows along with the story of the film, and so you will find yourself taking a trip down memory lane when you flip through the book.

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The good old Pork-Chop Express.

But besides the photographs there is of course also a lot of information about what went on during the making of the movie itself. It is written in a clear and concise way, that includes insights from the cast and crew itself. Some of the text was a bit dry, especially when they went into details about which type of cameras were being used, and stuff like that. But that luckily doesn’t happen very often. There were two things I really enjoyed finding out about and had never known before, prior to reading this book. The first was that the actress that played the character of Margo Litzenberg, Kate Burton, was the daughter of the legendary actor Richard Burton. The other is the fact that this movie was really helpful in the promotion and use of Asian American actors. As we all know, there has been a lot of controversy over the “whitewashing” affairs of the American movie industry. This movie was way ahead of it’s time in the fact that it used almost primarily Asian American actors/actresses for it’s leading roles. A fact that the cast was very thankful of and that really becomes kind of a focal point throughout this book.

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Some people just don’t look their best when they just woke up. 

The book is presented in pretty thick glossy pages that really give it the look of a high quality product. To round out the book we get a foreword written by the legendary director himself, and an afterword penned by it’s leading man Kurt Russell. This is a book that is written for the fans, there’s no question about that. If you have never seen the film, there is little to no point in picking this up. Unless you really like reading books about all the details and hard work that is put into making a film like this. However if you have been a fan of this cult classic as much as I have been, this one is well worth it to add to your collection. Overall it was a very enjoyable read, that contains a wealth of good background information, great interviews with cast and crew, and of course the visual aspects of it were a delight. You can almost hear the Pork-Chop Express driving up to your home with old Jack Burton on the CB saying: “It’s all in the reflexes”.

I give the Official Making of Big Trouble in Little China a 8 out of 10 score.

January’s Theme: Korean Dramas

Hello everyone. This is going to be a short post to announce the first theme of this year. As I mentioned in my plans for the upcoming year, each month will have a certain theme that will get a little bit more coverage than all the other things. That’s not to say, I won’t be writing reviews for movies, anime etc, but the theme of the month will just get a few more posts than the others. And as you can see in the big bold letters above this text, January’s theme is going to be Korean Dramas.

What exactly is a Korean drama?

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Well don’t keep us in suspense tell us already!

As not everyone might be familiar with these let me explain just a little bit about them. Korean drama shows are pretty much the same as a regular tv series, except for the fact that they usually run for a single season (with a few exceptions). That means they are selfcontained stories that unfold in one season and then end. The great thing about that is the fact that you don’t run a risk that a show might get cancelled in the middle of a cliffhanger. Korean dramas have quite a large number of topics, such as crime, romance, period pieces, and these days they even have a few series that have sci-fi elements in them. If this has gotten your interest you might want to check out the website Viki that will let you watch these legally for free (with of course a few commercials thrown into the mix). Another great source for news and recommendations is the truly awesome blog Kdramakisses run by the amazingly kind Kay.

What will I be reviewing?

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What do you mean you are not going to tell us?

No, that’s exactly right, I am not going to tell you yet which shows I will be watching. Yes I know, I am evil like that. But I have to keep up a little bit of suspense right? I plan on watching three shows however, so keep your eyes out for the reviews that will start to make an appearance later on in this month. Thank you for reading, and see you all at the next post!

 

Special Features Presents: And now…the end is near!

Don’t worry, I am not going to be closing down my blog. This is just the final post that I am going to be writing. For this year that is. Everyone has been saying it: “Wow, has this year flown by”. And it certainly has. For me this year has had it’s ups and downs. More downs than ups if I am going to be honest, but I don’t want to write my final post of the year as a depressive one. In short I want to make this a cool and fun post to celebrate the end of this year. And what better way to do that, than in showing you all my favorite things that I read, watched and played in 2017. But before I start on that I also want to say that this first full year of blogging has been amazing. I have seen my blog grow in ways that I really did not expect. I have met an awful lot of new bloggers along the way, and some of them have turned into a couple of really amazing friends. Combined with the people I already knew I can really say that I could not live without my blog anymore. It’s become a part of me, and I want to thank each and every one of you that has ever read a post, left a comment or a like. You really are all amazing, and I hope the new year is going to bring you all only fun and good things. And now, let’s kick off this end of year post shall we?

Favorite movie of the year: Bladerunner 2049

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If someone would have told me a few years ago that Blade Runner 2049 would end up as my favorite movie of the year I would have flat out laughed out loud. As I really thought that this sequel to such a classic science fiction masterpiece would be doomed to fail. But I was proven wrong. This beautiful movie had everything in it. It expanded the story of the original film, and combined with breathtaking visual effects, some solid acting and a brilliant score this one is simply the reason why I love movies so much. I can’t wait to own this one on dvd, to watch it over and over again. My absolute number one film for this year.

Favorite anime of the year: Your Lie in April

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One of absolute highlights of 2017 was the watch-a-long with Weekend Otaku for the breathtaking animeseries Your lie in April. I know this one was released in 2014,  but for me it was the first time I saw it this year. What can I say about this beautiful show that has not already been said? It’s an emotional roller coaster that this show takes you on, but it’s one well worth taking. You would be wise to stock up on numerous boxes of tissues because I guarantee that you are going to cry multiple times. But this is a show that is simply put: perfect. I had never thought I would like a slice of life show as much as I ended up enjoying this one. It’s still my number one alltime anime series to date.

Favorite Korean Drama of the year: Goblin

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On the front of Korean dramas I have had a very disappointing year. As in: I saw way too few of them (Sorry about that Kay). I plan to really watch more of these next year, as there are quite a number of them that I still want to see. My favorite pick for this year was really easy though. Goblin was an amazing drama with high production values, a beautiful and heartwarming story but best of all were the characters. They really made this series into an incredible fun watch. I’m not one that usually likes comedies, but the humor in this drama was just hilarious. I really had to laugh at so many scenes. But this certainly wasn’t a comedy as there were also many exciting, tearful but also quite horrifying scenes. If you have never seen a K-drama before this might be a very good place to start.

Favorite Tv Series of the Year: Stranger Things 2

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When a first season for a series is highly succesful and a second season gets announced, fans look forward to it, but obviously are very anxious for it at the same time. What if it sucks? Stranger Things is a show that proves that a second season can be just as good, if not at times even better than the first one. While overall I did think the first season was just a tiny bit better, this second season was just a blast from start to finish. The entire 80’s vibe, the wonderful characters (both old and new), and the storyline combine to make this a show that you can’t stop watching until you have finished it. It was an absolutely amazing watch, and I am already looking forward to next year where season 3 will hopefully give us that same experience again. Stranger Things is simply put: awesome!

Favorite Book of the Year: Sisters of Battle

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Ugh, as with Korean Dramaseries, reading books this year has really been underwhelming. I have such a huge pile of books that I still need to read, and because of the wonderful Dani ,Kim and Didi my Good Reads to read list has completely exploded. (Thanks for that girls 😢 Just kidding, you know I love you 😊). And now there are the wonderful Lashaan and Trang that also keep adding books to this seemingly never ending list. But I did read some books this year, and my favorite was also one that I finished quite recently the Sisters of Battle Omnibus. This one was just a blast to read from start to finish. Great characters, explosive battlescenes and just a terrific science fiction setting are just a couple of the things that made this novel so much fun. But the girlpower is what gave this book it’s real edge. This was a pageturner and a book that I could hardly put down.

Favorite Boardgame of the Year: Eldritch Horror

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When it comes to boardgames it simply doesn’t get any better than this. Eldritch Horror is a fantastic horror/fantasy boardgame that I gave a well deserved perfect score. It’s a joy to play, even when playing it solo, because of the great narrative components it contains. You will find yourself racing across the world trying to prevent an ancient evil from awakening. In the meantime you will experience all sorts of adventures that are always different whenever you play this game. If you love reading books or watching adventure movies, this is a game you should definitely consider adding to your collection. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed by this in any way.

Final thoughts

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Well people: that’s it. Time for me to call it a day. At least for this year that is. I hope you will all enjoy the upcoming final day of the year. If you are going to be using fireworks please make sure you aren’t going to blow any of your hands off. I do want to see each and everyone of you back safely next year. Speaking of next year, I will continue to write about the things I love the most, but I do want to bring a little bit more structure into my blog, as it has sometimes been going all over the place. I have also been thinking of a few new features I want to add, but that is a story for later. As always thank you for reading this and for your amazing support the past few months. See you all next year! 😀😀

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, American movie (2017)

I’m not a very happy man right now. In fact I’m pretty much at a loss for words and don’t even know where to start or how to write this post. This is probably going to be one of the hardest reviews that I have ever written since I started blogging. And it is all for a new movie in the science fiction franchise that I have loved for so many years. Today though, The Last Jedi, managed to really destroy the saga with a film that was destined to divide the Star Wars fan base community. I’m sorry to say that I am on the dark side here by stating that I really hated this movie. There…I have said it. I don’t think after all these years of watching movies, that I have ever been filled with more anger towards a film than for this one. I am also going to be breaking protocol here by writing a spoiler filled review for the first time in the history of this blog. It is really the only way to explain why I am feeling so much anger inside….and yes I know, I did hear Yoda’s words. Anger eventually leads to the Dark Side. Beware, this is a very different review by me than you are used to. It really is going to be a rant so if you are (force) sensitive to these sort of things, you can still turn away.

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Is it me, or do these things look like giant monkeys?

***!!!Spoilers Begin!!!***

So this movie pretty much picks up where The Force Awakens ended. The Rebellion is on the run and The First Order have somehow taken over the entire galaxy all of a sudden. (Which is kind of odd, seeing as they only had one base to begin with, which was destroyed in the last movie). But I’m willing to overlook that part. After episode VII fans were left with a lot of burning questions, chief amongst them being who is Snoke, and who are Rey’s parents? Let’s start with Snoke first. He is set up to be an extremely powerful villain, who has force powers that seem to be even stronger than those of The Emperor. So just who is this evil being? Well….who cares director Rian Johnson must have thought as he gets killed by Kylo Ren turning a lightsaber on him. I was completely stunned when this happened. Why introduce a seriously sinister and mysterious villain, that had fans speculating over his origins for months only to just kill him off in a single stroke? And without ever finding out who he was and how he came to be this all powerful figurehead?

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I know I look old to you, but really you don’t have to be rude about it and close your eyes.

Okay, right….so Rian is surely going to redeem himself by answering the question to who Rey’s parents were right? Erm…..wrong. Rey’s parents were, drumroll please: nobodies. Simply drunken scavengers that sold Rey off to slavers. Which means Rey herself is a nobody as well, and has no apparent bloodline to any famous force sensitive families. That’s what they came up with? Really? Great job, truly and utterly spectacular script writing. How on Earth is Rey able to do all the things that she is doing? It really makes no sense whatsoever. I had some hopes left, and those were centered on Luke and Leia. To be fair, both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher played their parts beautifully. There is a truly heartbreaking scene near the end of the movie in which brother and sister are reunited, and that one really gave me some goosebumps. But the old heroic Luke we came to know and love as fans is gone for most of the film. In his place is a cynical and whiny old man that wants nothing to do with any of the Rebellion’s problems. And after everything he went through in Episodes IV-VI, his change in personality, despite the cause that triggered it, seems too far fetched for me. And of course just because he can, Rian decides to kill off Luke as well.

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Look, my lightsaber is still shiny and red!

Remember Yoda saying after Luke left before completing his training in Empire that there was another? We later learn that he was talking about Leia of course, but she never got Jedi training. But what happens in this movie? After getting blown into outer space, she survives in a cold hard vacuum, flies like Supergirl and pulls herself to safety by using the Force. A feat that to my knowledge not even the most powerful Jedi were able to do. I could go on but really, you get my drift. This movie is just so full of plotholes like these, that not even a Jedi mindtrick is able to save it. Are there no positive things in this movie? Well, that would be too harsh a judgement, and also not fair. Oscar Isaac, echoing his own character’s words is the fire that really shines in this film. Poe Dameron has a much bigger role in this movie than in the Force Awakens and he really has become one of my alltime favorite Star Wars characters. He truly is both a hero and rebel in the biggest sense of those words.

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Chewie and Porg, the new talkshow coming to you soon!

In true Star Wars fashion we get a couple of grand battle scenes, and the fight near the end of the film really is one of the best in the franchise. And then of course there is at least one villain in this film that still is every bit as interesting as he was in the first movie: Kylo Ren. Adam Driver portraying the character does an amazing job in bringing his conflict to life. The fun thing about Kylo is that you never really know what his next move will be. Is he truly evil, or is there still light in him? It is a question that I think he can’t even answer himself, and that is what makes him such a really fun and scary character. From a visual point of view the movie really looks amazing. The special effects are really top notch but never become too much like a few scenes that were in the prequels. Last but not least we get the Porgs, a new and quite loveable race of beings that provide some truly entertaining scenes that had me roaring with laughter.

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Yep, this face pretty much sums up how I felt after leaving the theatre yesterday.

***Spoilers End***

So, there we have it, the first true rant that I ever had on my blog and for a movie that I had been looking forward to for two years now. Ever since leaving the theatre yesterday afternoon I have been thinking that there is something that I have missed in some way. That I am somehow being too harsh. But then I looked over on IMDB and saw the responses and reviews the movie is getting and I know now that I am not alone in this. As all of you know, at least everyone that has been reading my blog for a while now, I always respect other people’s opinions. So if you loved the film, I think that is great. With this film though for me Star Wars has turned into a new direction that I just don’t like. It has ripped out the heart of what made Star Wars so much fun in the first place, and what is left into it’s place is something rather cold. I don’t know if the magic is completely snuffed out now. Only time will tell I guess. I also know that this review is maybe going to cause a great disturbance in the Force amongst some of you. For that I am sorry. Know that in no way I wish to offend anyone here, it is simply my take on the film. Never would I want to force (push) my opinion on you.

I give Star Wars Episode VIII a heartbroken 4 out 10 score.