Tag Archives: Fantasy

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!

 

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Black, Korean Dramaseries (2017)

There is a question that many people wonder about. What happens when we die? Will we simply cease to exist? Will we somehow be reborn, enter Heaven or maybe even Hell? No matter what you believe in, I don’t think it’s a question that we will ever get an answer to until the moment arrives. Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am pretty happy to postpone that moment for as long as I can. It’s not that I fear death, but I am pretty happy with living right now thank you very much. But we all check out at some point, that’s pretty much the only certainty we have in life. (Oh yeah, and taxes but I always tend to forget that one for some reason). Well, I can hear you thinking right now: “This is a very cheerful subject:NOT! I’m going to move on and check out something else”. Well, if you do you are going to miss out on a review for the best Korean drama series that I have seen so far in my life. So please bare with me just a little bit longer okay?

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My name is Black…..erm, no that’s it, just Black. 

 

In Black we meet up with Kang Ha-ram a young woman who has always had a very special ability ever since she was a child. When she looks at people she sometimes sees dark shadows forming behind them. These shadows are always the signs that the death of that person is very near. Ha-ram hasn’t been happy with this power at all, and the only way she can avoid it, is by wearing sunglasses. One day she crosses paths with police officer Han Moo-gang who she is stunned to recognise as a boy from her childhood, one was always very kind to her. She has not seen him in almost 20 years, but it appears that he has really changed. He doesn’t seem at all like the kindhearted young boy who she remembers, but instead has turned into a very coldhearted insensitive man. And she would be right, as Moo-gang has not only changed but is now possessed by a Grim Reaper. But this is not the only problem that Ha-rang is going to face. When a body is found, certain events are set in motion that will uncover a very dark secret and conspiracy that has been buried for a very long time. And certain people will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from rising to the surface…..even it means killing everyone in their path.

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Some people just hate missing the bus. 

Okay, let me make one thing clear, and this is very, very important. Do not, I repeat not drop this show after watching the first two episodes. I almost did this, and am eternally grateful that I did not. When this series starts you will be very confused. What exactly is this series trying to be? Is it a police drama, a supernatural mystery, or, and this is what I feared the most, a slapstick comedy? The first two episodes were a mess and the “comedy” was so cringeworthy that I very nearly gave up. But man, am I glad that I did not. Black is a show that by the time you start with episode 3 is almost impossible to turn off. The story it tells is tense, gripping, emotional and will have you in tears, on the edge of your seat, as well as laughing all at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster ride that will never let up. The best element in this series is how it draws you the viewer into the storyline trying to figure out how all the puzzlepieces fit together. And just when you think you have figured it all out, it throws another twist at you, and you have to start from scratch again.

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Sometimes you just want to sit down on the sidewalk. I always do that every day. 

There is a huge cast of actors, and as such it’s impossible to cover them all. I will instead focus on the two leads, but suffice it to say that every single actor involved in this series is great. No matter how small their parts were. And no, that is not me just saying so, just to get this over and done with in a quick way. Actor Song Seung-heon plays the part of the Grim Reaper possessed cop Moo-gang. His acting is superb and I love the way how his character evolved throughout the series. He can tackle basically everything, from actionscenes, to anger, to comedy to drama, everything he does is believable. His precense just lights up the screen everywhere he appears. But his chemistry with lead actress Go Ara, who plays the role of Ha-ram is also a huge part of what makes this series work so well. And speaking of her, you will completely fall in love with the character she portrays. Ha-ram is a feisty woman, who always has some very snappy comebacks, but is also very caring and emotional at the same time. This series is really her story, and that’s why it is important to have an actress who can carry that part. Go Ara really gets the job done, and then some.

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The new generation of Pokemon balls had also found it’s way into the afterlife. 

Black is a series that blends many elements together and that’s why it can be enjoyed by a pretty large number of people. Even though the show has supernatural elements, it never let’s these elements take the upper hand. Above all this is a solid and very cleverly written murder mystery, with a touch of action and suspense and the occasional humor thrown into the mix. And of course there is also some romance, but this only adds to the strength of the series instead of diminishing it. So in case you haven’t yet noticed, I absolutely loved this show. The only reason I haven’t given it the perfect 10/10 score is that the first two episodes just felt out of place. And seriously, I was very close to dropping it, something I almost never do. But the rest of this Korean drama series is so fantastic, that I have all but forgotten about that. If you have yet to watch your first K-drama series, this might be the one to start with. I guarantee that you will not regret this. So, this concludes my review for the second series for the Korean Drama theme month. What’s up next you ask? I haven’t yet quite decided, but rest assured there is one more series review to come. Thank you for reading!

I give Black a 9 out of 10 score.

Underworld: Blood Wars, American movie (2016)

Some movie franchises just seem to go on and on without ever having an end in sight. No matter how bad some of the sequels to the original movie have become, they just keep pumping out new films. This seems to be especially true for horrormovies. There is a certain market for B-movie type films, that fans just can’t seem to get enough of. The Underworld franchise started way back in 2003. Underworld told the story of a great war between the Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves) that has raged for thousands of years. It was a very classy film, with some seriously cool fight sequences, lot’s of leather, and a great lead actress in the form of Kate Beckinsale that played the 1000 year old Death Dealer Vampire Selene. And just like that, fourteen years later we now have a fifth installment, that even leaves the door open for yet another sequel. Have these movies been entertaining though? Well, quite frankly, yes. Sure, the first film was definitely the best, but these follow up films all still had some nice things in them, that made them worthwhile watches. Especially if you like these kind of movies. So, what about this one? Is it any good, or do we just need to put it into the sunlight and let it burn up?

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I think you have got something stuck between your teeth. Here, let me help you. 

Underworld Blood Wars continues the storyline from the fourth film. The Vampires are on the verge of losing the war against their enemies the Lycans. Only the Eastern Coven still stands strong and one of their members, the beautiful Semira believes their salvation may lie with the Death Dealer Selene. But Selene has been outcast for years, and most of the other Vampires want to see her dead. She convinces Thomas, one of the Vampire elders, to go the council in order to try to persuade them to grant Selene clemency. In this way she hopes Selene can return to train a new generation of Death Dealers. Meanwhile the Lycans, now under the command of the powerful Marius, are also searching for Selene. They want to use her to find her daughter Eve, whose blood may contain the secrets of building an army of Lycan/Vampire hybrids. With all the players setting up their pieces on the board, Selene finds herself right in the middle of a very deadly game. With betrayal seeming to run rampant on both sides, Selene has to find a way to survive. But this is easier said than done, especially when she is set up for a crime which she did not commit…

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Enough with those Vampire puns already, come on!

Well, let’s put a stake through the heart of this review and get down to the most important aspect of it. This was Underworld’s weakest installment to date, and one really has to wonder if this franchise has not run out of steam. The story is basically non-existent. All we get is a long chase movie that moves from fight sequence to fight sequence, with little to no surprises. One of the things I did like is the fact that the story introduced a new coven of Vampires that live in the icy northern wastes. Without giving away spoilers, suffice it to say that they are entirely different from the Vampires we have come to known in Underworld. The action scenes in this movie were also not as good as in the previous films. But that said there is a seriously cool fight between Marius and Selene on the ice, that really is well worth seeing and one of the highlights of the film. Other than that the rest of the fights just lack that special wow factor which is a bit of a shame.

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If you mention that I played in Divergent, I will kill you. 

But the saving grace of this film is definitely actress Kate Beckinsale. Now playing the role of Selene for the fourth time, she is still every bit as strongwilled and fearsome as when she first started playing the character. And without sounding like a sexist pig, Kate is just incredibly sexy and feminine in the leather outfits she has always worn throughout these films. Selene’s character has really grown over the years and at the end of this movie, you will find yourself surprised in what she has become. (One of the few surprises this film has on offer). Something that you might not expect in a movie such as this is the high level of acting. Kate does a terrific job, but so does veteran actor Charles Dance reprising his role as Thomas. You can just see the fun he is having in playing this role. Semira is a deliciously wicked character that is brought to life in a splendid way by actress Lara Pulver. One of the more unpredictable characters of the film, I really enjoyed seeing her playing out her part, and I would have loved to have seen more of her.

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Sometimes no words are necessary, this picture pretty much speaks for itself. 

Underworld Blood Wars is a movie that ended up being a bit of a disappointment. I would not call the film a total disaster, there are obviously worse films out there. But having enjoyed all the other movies in this franchise, this one was really a bit of a letdown. As mentioned in the beginning, there is still room for a sequel to this one, and I would not be surprised if that is going to happen. But they would have to come up with a real good script to end Selene’s journey in a satisfactory way. If you are not a fan of Underworld, this movie is not going to change your mind. But if you are, despite it’s many flaws, I still think you should watch it. If only to see the lovely Kate in action for what might just be her final appearance as Selene. Just don’t set your expectation levels to the highest settings though.

I give Underworld Blood Wars a 6 out of 10 score.

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.

 

 

 

 

Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope, American movie (1977)

There are some stories in this world that are kind of hard to believe. Take the Star Wars franchise for instance. No matter the fact if you love it or hate it, I think nobody can deny the fact that it’s incredibly popular and makes a ton of money. But did you know that director George Lucas had an incredibly hard time to even get a funding for the first movie in that galaxy far, far away? After writing a 13 page treatment for it, he went from studio to studio, but pretty much no one believed that this was a movie that would attract an audience. After getting declined numerous times, Lucas finally got a green light from 20th Century Fox. But he only got a very small budget with which to make the movie. After many hardships during filming, including suffering a near heart attack, Lucas managed to complete his film. When the movie was finally released in 1977 it blew everything that had come before it completely away and became a huge success. It never fails to make me smile when I think about this story, as it is proof that pretty much everything is possible as long as you keep believing in it.

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You seem to have trouble talking. Is it something I did?

Now 40 years later, Star Wars is still going strong with no end in sight. This week the eagerly awaited eight installment of the franchise will be released. I have already got my tickets, although I still have to wait a few days, as I will be seeing it on saturday morning. Which means that I have got to avoid social media the upcoming days in order to not come across spoilers. It’s only fitting to conclude my Countdown to the Last Jedi feature with the movie that started it all, Episode IV, A New Hope. Probably most of you know the story of this film by heart, but for the few unlucky souls that have never seen this one, let me break it down for you. In a galaxy far, far away an evil Empire has grown that holds everyone in an iron grip. With the creation of a new weapon, a planet killer called the Death Star, it seems the Empire is ready to snuff out the final rays of light. But there is always hope. A rebellion has grown that has managed to steal the technical plans of this new terrorweapon. The plans are currently in possession of Princess Leia, who is racing home to try and find a weakness in the Death Star. But the Empire’s brutal enforcer Darth Vader is in hot pursuit with the sole purpose of extinquishing the rebellion once and for all….

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That’s no moon, it’s erm…..I don’t really know actually.

I was one year old when this movie came out, so I never saw it in the theatres when it was released. I of course did see it at a later age, when the special editions came out and the movies were brought back to the cinema. But the experience could never rival what movie audiences at that time must have felt. These days we are not easily surprised anymore by special effects. But imagine the reaction people must have had when that Star Destroyer came into view for the first time in 1977. Movies that featured that level of special effects were completely unheard of at that time. And in that way it pretty much changed the movie industry overnight. Rival companies were trying to play catch up and released science fiction movies that tried to copy what Star Wars did. With a few exceptions, most of these attempts failed. So what exactly made this movie so special, and why has it captured the hearts and minds of so many people?

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Your hair looks really ridiculous you know that right?

Yes, the special effects were mind boggling, and even though they are now showing their age, they still hold up very well even today. But for me it’s the story and the characters that form the main reason why I love this movie so very much. It’s the ultimate epic tale of good versus evil. Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and of course the classic actor Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi, all of them did such an amazing job in creating wonderful and heartwarming characters. When you look at this movie now, it’s amazing how young they all look. I don’t know if this makes me old or something, but it’s just incredible when you realise that time seriously is flying by faster than the Millenium Falcon on lightspeed. But let’s not get off track here. For another reason this movie is so memorable is it’s main villain: Darth Vader. The first time he enters the screen you can’t help but feel intimidated. He is the very personification of evil, and it oozes out from him in every way. For me he simply is the best villain in movie history.

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We are all going to be made into action figures? You are kidding me right?

When it comes to Star Wars it is really hard to stay objective. I have been a fan of this franchise ever since I saw that memorable opening crawl on my television screen for the first time. It is also hard to believe that after 40 years we will again see Mark Hamill reprise his role for which he has been famous all his life. No one yet knows what is in store for Luke, but I will be awaiting with anticipation that is bigger than a Womp Rat, I can tell you that. For those of you that have not seen this first film I can only say that I envy you. To experience a movie like this for the first time is something truly amazing. And yes, in case you were wondering this really is the movie you should start with first. I know it’s called Episode IV, but this was the very first installment. (Even though Episodes I-III were released much later, but that is a story for another time). A New Hope is an amazing piece of cinema, and a movie that you simply must see at least once in your life. And so we have reached the end of this feature. I leave you with the original trailer for the movie, and for those of you that are going to the cinema the coming days to see Episode VIII: May the Force be with you!

I give Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope a 10 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: First trailer for Alita Batle Angel

After a bit of a strange week of blogging, and my recovering from a rather nasty flu (you can read all about that right here), today marks the first day that I hope to get back to normal blogging operations. Erm, yeah I don’t quite know what that means either. I’m at least going to try and make an effort to catch up on some posts that I have missed, and try and write some stuff myself again as well. They say there is such a thing as not believing in things that are a coincidence, but I sometimes beg to differ. I literally acquired the first volume of the Deluxe Edition of the Battle Angel Alita manga, this weekend. For those of you not familiair with it, Battle Angel Alita is a long running manga series. It features a young innocent looking cyborg woman called Alita, that is found and rescued at a Scrapyard by a cyber doctor where she was dumped. Floating above this Scrapyard is the floating city of Zalem. While the people at Zalem seem to enjoy a life of luxury, the people at the Scrapyard live in poverty and try to get by as best they can. It soon becomes apparent though that Alita is no ordinary cyborg, and is in reality a deadly assassin skilled in the legendary martial arts of Panzerkunst.

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The first volume of the Deluxe Edition of the manga. Expect a review for this one next year. 

Now getting back to that coincidence, friday the first trailer for the live action movie of Alita seemingly came out of nowhere. It was a movie project that has been rumored for ages now, with director James Cameron having said that he has always been interested in making a film for this. It seems that plan has now finally been put into motion. Although Cameron doesn’t direct, he is quite involved in the project. And I have to say that what is on display in this trailer is really awesome. Not only does it look rather unique, we also get a pretty good cast that bring the characters to life. I for one can’t wait to see the final product, which will make an appearance in the theatres next year. For your enjoyment I have provided the trailer for you to watch, and judge by yourself. Let me know what you think of it in the comments section below.

 

Stranger Things Season 2, American tv series (2017)

It is saturday morning, the 28th of October. I’m going through my checklist. Have I locked the door? Have I turned off my phone? Did I stock up on foodsupplies? Did I make sure that I have cancelled all my appointments for the day? I feel the fear swiftly take a hold of me. I did do all these things right? Calmly I exhale…yes, I have checked everything multiple times now. A grim smile crosses my face: I am ready. Quietly I walk towards the remote of my television set. With my heart pounding like thunder, I press the play button and see the Netflix logo appearing. I sit back, grab my cup of hot coffee and whoop with joy. Yes people season 2 of Stranger Things is finally here. I imagine the scene I just described has been playing across multiple homes across the globe this weekend. Albeit probably a bit less dramatic. So, in case you have yet to discover this tv series, I’ve got you covered. Last year I did a review for the first season, which you can find right here.

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Who are you gonna call? (Oh come on, what else did you expect me to say about a picture like this?)

What’s that? Can’t I just give a quick description? Sure. Stranger Things is pretty much a loveletter to everything that made the 80’s so awesome. The series is set in the 80’s and focusses on a group of friends that end up in the middle of a mystery that is out of this world. You will find references to all your favorite movies from that era, like the Goonies, E.T., Aliens, the Thing and a whole bunch more. To say that I am in love with this series is an understatement. So you are warned that this review for the second season is going to be me gushing pretty much over how awesome this show really is. But I will be doing that spoilerfree, and sure I will try and be as objective as I can. With a series that had such a strong opening season, there is always a lot of pressure. Will it be as good? Aren’t they going to ruin everything what you loved so much about the series in the first place? Well….they didn’t. In fact, at some points it was even better. Now of course I will get to that soon, but let’s first get to the story of the second season.

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Yes, that really is quite a disturbing sight.

Season 2 takes place a year after the events of the first season. Will Byers is safely back, and tries to pick up his life as best he can after the trauma he suffered. Supported by his group of friends, they get back into the things they love doing. However, soon Will is beginning to experience terrifying visions of the Upside Down. It seems that the supernatural forces are still out there, and are trying to get back into the world, with the intent of destroying it and humanity. But is Will just having after effects of his earlier experiences or is there something more sinister going on? In the meantime Sheriff Hopper is having problems of his own. He is trying to keep something a secret in order to protect the ones he loves the most. But in doing so, he might just be making things even worse. It is not long before all hell is going to break  loose and a terrifying presence from beyond is going to make itself known. Once again it will be up to Mike and the rest of his band of misfits to save the world. But this time, the stakes are much, much higher, and the question becomes if they are going to be up to this task…..

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Who says girls can’t play videogames is just very stupid.

The first thing you will notice when you are starting with the second season is that the pace has been changed. Events are moving at a much slower rate, and we are spending more time getting into the minds of the characters, instead of going into all out action mode. I did not think this was a bad thing though, but I can understand how some viewers might also consider some of it a bit too slow for their tastes. The strength of this show however is the characters. Whoever did the casting for this series should definitely get a raise. I am in awe of the acting abilities of some of these kids. We have to consider the fact that these are relatively young children, but from the way they are acting you would say they had been doing it for years. But next to the regulars we also get a bunch of new additions to the cast. This is always risky, as with a cast as awesome as this, you really wonder if any new ones don’t throw a wrench into the well oiled machine.

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There is going to be a season 3? Really?

But here there are also no problems, as they all work out incredibly well. My favorite had got to be tomboy Max who adds some much needed girlpower to the group. She is a feisty and spirited girl that you will fall in love with right from the start. Her stephbrother though is a whole other matter. A truly loathsome guy, who thinks he is God’s greatest gift to women, he is a seriously annoying presence, but in a very good way. It’s always terrific when you get a character that you truly hate, but also want to see more of because he is played so well. We also get a new love interest for Winona Ryder’s character namely the good guy Bob Newby. Played by Sean Astin, who once played in the Goonies, this is just one of those characters that basically can’t do anything wrong. Finally Paul Reiser portrays a new scientist called dr. Owens that works at the lab that started the whole mess. At the beginning it is pretty unclear just  what his motives are, and whether or not his intentions are evil or not. I always enjoy shady characters like that, and it’s nice to figure stuff like that out.

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Why did you not tell me there would be a third season sooner?

As you might have noticed I have kept things about the plot relatively in the dark. That’s because I really don’t want to spoil things for anyone that still has to see this. Don’t worry about the fact that things start off slow though. The pace will pick up soon enough, and there is still plenty of action. As mentioned above I thought this season at some points was even better. I loved finding out more about all the characters, and the special effects for all of these episodes were also a step up from the ones seen in Season 1. Clearly they just had a much bigger budget, and could therefore spent a lot more money. Overall though, one has to be honest and say that everything in this season was simply playing it very safe. There were no real surprises and they just made sure that the viewers got everything they loved about the first season and then some. Not that this was a bad thing though, but one has to wonder what they are going to be doing for season 3.

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Let’s have a little light in the darkness. 

Season 3 you say? Yes. Stranger Things will reportedly get at least three more seasons , with the next one already heading into the production phase. And I love it! Yes, the series has to be careful to not play it too safe, and hopefully will also try and bring a bit more surprises into the existing storyline next season. That being said, the mythology of this show along with the wonderful cast of characters, is something that I don’t mind spending more time with. This series is awesome, and simply the best series on Netflix at this moment. It’s one those shows that makes you sad when the credits start to roll on the final episode. Stranger Things season 2 is a terrific watch, and if you were already a fan, you will even be more of a fan after this one. The lack of surprises made me not give this season a 10/10 score like last year, but it was another amazing ride and one that I did not regret for even a single second. Well…time to unlock the door and plug in the phone again. Let’s get back to the real world.

I give season 2 of Stranger Things a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, American movie (2015)

Earlier this week a trailer was released for a very small movie that is coming out in december. You have probably never heard of this film, but why not, let me just throw it out there in case you have: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. See? Told you that this is a pretty much unknown movie. Okay, all kidding aside: how awesome was that trailer! I will go into that a little bit more in depth below, but after I had seen it, it put me into the mood to rewatch Episode VII again, The Force Awakens. This film was responsible for relighting the fire that is Star Wars, not that it had ever gone out completely. With expectations going through the roof weeks before it’s release, one of the things that everyone was looking forward to, was the appearance of the original cast. Yes, classic characters like Han and Leia were back again, and fans at times broke out in tears at watching the trailers. (Not me of course, I am a man and I never cry….blinks back tears). But was the Force Awakens a good film, or merely a rehash of old things?

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The first one who says my lightsaber looks like crap, is going to get it….

The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the Return of the Jedi. The Empire has been defeated, but instead of peace returning to the galaxy, a new threat has emerged. The First Order has risen from the ashes of what the Empire left behind, and is threatening to snuff out the last peaces of light that are remaining. The Resistance is desperately trying to find Luke Skywalker who nobody has seen for decades, but who they think might turn the tide of war. They have send one of their best pilots, Poe Dameron, to track down a lead for information as to where Luke might be hiding. But the First Order has tracked Poe down, and one of their most sinister agents, Kylo Ren, succeeds in capturing him. All hope now lies with Poe’s droid BB-8, in which he has hidden the clue to finding the Jedi Master. While on the run BB-8 soon encounters a young scavenger girl that goes by the name of Rey. She reluctantly agrees to help the droid, and together with a former stormtrooper they set out on the mission to find the Resistance. But the First Order is hot on their heals and this time this new hope for the galaxy, might be lost…..

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Yeah, I know I look pretty good for an old nerfherder. 

The Force Awakens has been hated and loved in equal measures. The hate mostly came from people that said the movie was just a rewrite of the first original Star Wars movie. And I guess they do have a point. Just as in the first film, we have something hidden in a droid that becomes the focal point of the story. We have a Death Star like superweapon in the form of Star Killer Base, and of course we have an untrained person that is cast in the unlikely role of hero. So yes, there is certainly truth in that claim. But to dismiss it just based on that is pretty unfair. For there are also a lot of things that this movie did that were just plain awesome. The return of the old characters for instance. The first time you see Han Solo together with Chewie is just a goosebump inducing moment. And ofcourse that moment returns when you see Leia again, reunited with her scruffy looking love interest.

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I really can’t believe that you are not a CGI effect.

But the new characters are also not to be excluded. Kylo Ren is one of, if not, the most interesting villain from the entire saga. He is not just a Darth Vader wannabe, a fact that is only enforced when he removes his helmet. Here we have a person that is conflicted throughout the entire movie. And that conflict comes to the fore in that scene, which I am not going to spoil, but for anyone who has seen the movie it should be pretty clear to which scene I am referring. And then there are Rey, the scavenger girl, and Finn the former stormtrooper. Both great characters in their own way. It is still completely unclear who Rey’s parents are, despite all the theories floating around on the web. It is exactly this fact that defines her character though. The unknown, the fact that she really as of yet has no clue to who she truly is. But she tries her utmost to become the hero though. Finn is the true antihero however. Right from the start he stands up to the injustice that surrounds him, and he almost pays the ultimate price for that. I could probably write another 1000 words for how much I enjoyed this film, but I am not going to do that. My final verdict for the film will follow soon enough, but let’s talk a bit about the new trailer.

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I just had to include a picture that features the fastest hunt of junk in the galaxy. 

The Last Jedi trailer

Unless you have been captured by a Wampa this week, you must have seen the new trailer pop up somewhere on the web. Or a better word for it, is first trailer, as we had so far only seen a teaser for the new movie. And it was worth the wait. One thing this new trailer has been doing is messing with out heads. There are so many things going on that may or may not be true, that it almost makes your mind explode. Is Rey joining forces with Kylo? I myself doubt it. I believe, as a lot of people have said, that the scenes have been purposely blended together to make it look as if they are one scene. Or….it is real, and we are really in for a hell of a ride. One thing we can be sure of is that this film is going to be very hard on the forces of light. It all looks very spectacular, and I for one can’t wait for december. What are your thoughts on the new trailer? Let me know in the comments section below. And of course, just because I am a nice guy, I have included it below for your viewing pleasure.

The Verdict

But of course with the excitement building for Episode VIII let us not forget the movie that restarted this adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Yes, the film certainly may have lacked a bit of originality, you will not hear any argument from me for that. But this was a Star Wars film in every sense of the word, and a pretty damn good one at that. The terrific characters, the special effects that were mostly practical, and of course the return of the old favorites all made it a great adventure to be enjoyed by everyone. I for one loved it, and it truly made me feel like a kid again (although that feeling is pretty much a part of me anyway). So see this one again before the new one hits the theatres in december. To close with a Star Wars phrase: it is your destiny……

I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 9 out of 10 score.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever : a fantasy novel by Stephen Donaldson (1977)

Every year on my birthday a group of my closest friends gather together in secret to come up with a birthday present for me. And that is quite a difficult feat, mind you, as my hobbies and the things I like are quite large. As such, it becomes harder every year to find something that I don’t already own. (But to my defense I have the same problem in deciding what to give them in return). Usually it takes them quite a while to come up with an idea, but this year apparently was the first time that it was quite easy. On that fateful day in March I received a huge box that contained a large number of books. I was at a loss for words as it truly was a wonderful gift, but I was even more surprised in finding out that it was a series of novels that I had never heard about. Today I finished the first of those novels, a huge 1154 page omnibus edition that contained the first three books of an epic fantasy series. This review is written for my friends who gave me this wonderful present, but for one in particular who shall remain nameless, because I know she doesn’t like stuff like this. But she was the one who came up with this idea, and I can’t thank her enough, for this book was truly wonderful from start to finish. And then again: you know who you are anyway!

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The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is an epic fantasy series, that features one of the most unusual heroes that you will ever meet. In fact I can’t think of a single book character that I have ever hated more in my life than Thomas Covenant. But in the end you want to see him win the day too, which only contributes to the amazing skills of the writer. Thomas Covenant has been diagnosed with leprosy. His wife, unable to deal with this, has filed for divorce and has left him, together with their young son. The town he lives in despises him, and wants nothing to do with him. In fact they pretty much stop at nothing to get him to leave. Because of this Thomas has grown into an incredibly bitter man, that has no love for anyone. One day he gets hit by a car and falls unconscious. And it is then that strange things are beginning to happen.

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When Covenant wakes up he finds himself in an unfamiliair world, simply called “The Land”. He finds out that he has been summoned there by a creature that has been manipulated by an evil being called Lord Foul. Lord Foul’s evil threatens to destroy The Land, but Thomas might just have the power to stop him. And that power seems to be contained within the most unlikely place one could think of: the wedding ring on his finger which he could not make himself to stop wearing even after his divorce. Thomas, however doesn’t believe that all of this is real, and instead thinks it is something conjured up by his mind to let him deal with his leprosy. With the evil gaining power every single day, the plight of the good people of The Land becomes ever more desperate. But as long as Thomas remains an Unbeliever, Lord Foul has won the war without even having to strike a single blow….

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This omnibus Edition contains the novels Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War and The Power That Preserves. As I mentioned above, I truly hated Thomas Covenant. You would think that with everything I told you about him, one would give the guy a break. But trust me when I say that you will grow to hate him as well. This man is pretty much unfriendly to everyone he meets, no matter how they treat him. He even ends up raping an innocent girl at some point, which was a truly loathsome act. But still, as the story progresses his character grows on you, and you really want him to pull through anyway, no matter what he has done. Stephen Donaldson has put together a very rich fantasy world, filled with a huge cast of characters and places. And I do mean huge as at the back of the novel there is a 8 page glossary of names for all the characters, items, and places that the novel contains.

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That was also the only negative point I could come up with. The sheer number of names and terms used in the book was so big, that I did find myself flicking to the back of the novel at times to look up who a certain character was. But besides that, this book is an incredible read from start to finish. It’s a pageturner that is hard to put down, and truly has that classic quality of  “Just one more chapter before I turn off the lights” (which usually means that you end up reading more than one chapter). The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is a must read for people who like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It’s rich mythology, terrific characters, and epic storyline will hold you spellbound all the way to the end. Even though I will now take a break in order to return to a science fiction universe, I can’t wait to get back to The Land, and continue with the epic adventures of Thomas. Even though I still hate that guy…..

I give The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant a 9 out of 10 score.