Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Special Features presents: A new hope??

For those of you know that know me, you probably also know that I am a huge Star Wars fan (okay and a fan of maybe a hundred or more other things, but that’s besides the point right now). When Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi came out in 2017 I was devastated. The movie completely ruined everything that I had ever liked about Star Wars. I hated the film with a vengeance and I did something that was completely out of character for me: I wrote a review in complete anger. In hindsight, that was something I should not have done. The post did become my most viewed one in the history of my blog and at the same time it gathered a huge amount of comments. Some people agreed with me, some did not. In the end it’s just a movie though. On the other hand the only reason why I was so passionate about it, is the fact that Star Wars films are MORE than movies for me. I have been a fan for over 30 years now and the saga of that galaxy far, far away has been a big part of my life. After the dust settled, and the fan base was divided, a lot of fans just wrote off Star Wars completely. The Solo movie for instance was a box office bomb because fans just didn’t believe in the Disney side of Star Wars anymore.

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I have a…..good…..feeling about this!

But…that’s not me. One bad movie doesn’t mean that I have all of a sudden stopped loving Star Wars. What I have become when it comes to this, is cautious. I don’t want to have another huge disappointment by becoming too enthusiastic about anything related to the continuation of the current trilogy. That said: HOLY FREAKING MOLY HAVE YOU GUYS SEEN THIS NEW TRAILER YET?!!? Erm…sorry…just my old enthusiasm creeping up on me. It won’t happen again. Seriously though, this teaser trailer that was released last night, certainly made me cautiously optimistic about the future, or should I say the end of this saga. Because Episode IX will be the final installment of the Skywalker story. It was a trailer that was made for fans, to restore the faith that some of them might have lost. And I say, already seeing some of the responses online to people that have watched the trailer, that they really managed to achieve their goal. So, let’s talk about it a bit. And if you don’t want to know anything for the upcoming film just skip the next paragraph.

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Be still my heart……

*Spoilers Begin* First off there is of course the title of the movie: The rise of Skywalker. But with Luke gone from the universe, there really is (at least so far as we know) only one Skywalker left: Kylo Ren. So, will this movie be about his redemption? Or is there something else going on? As far as nostalgia goes, it was of course great to see Lando in the cockpit of his old ship again. If you ask me he was only added to the film to bring back some of that old magic feeling, but hey I’m certainly not complaining about it. Leia hugging Rey was of course another of those goosebump inducing moments, especially considering the fact that the wonderful Carrie Fisher isn’t amongst us anymore. But the true surprise comes at the very end of the trailer where Luke in an overhead voice says: “ No one is ever really gone” and we hear the maniacal laugh of Emperor Palpatine. That was simply put, mindblowing, and one has to wonder what in blazes this will mean. Because really all bets are off now. *Spoilers End*

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That’s no moon, it’s a………

With this teaser trailer having now been released of course the fans are unleashing all their theories again on what they have seen, and what they predict may or may not happen. But, let’s not forget that the trailers for Episode VIII also looked amazing, and everyone was speculating wildly then as well. Until the film came out, and pretty much everything we had hoped for was thrown out the window. The Rise of Skywalker will be a very important movie. It will either reunite the fans again, or let a rift as big as the Sith and the Jedi rivalry forever stand between them. Episode IX has one huge advantage though: it has J.J. Abrams. I know some people really don’t like the guy. I do. Pretty much everything I have seen of him, whether it’s one of his tv shows, or his movies, I have enjoyed. I hope he can undo the damage that has been done with the previous film, and fix Star Wars again. And for those of you that loved The Last Jedi, as I said last time: no disrespect intended, I honestly think that’s great. Now of course down below, for your viewing pleasure a link to the trailer. May the Force be with you all: have a great weekend!

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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!

 

Seasonal Anime: A first impression post!

Has the Raist finally gone mad? Is this really a first impression post on seasonal anime that is appearing on this blog? Does this mean that Raistlin0903 is turning in an anime blog? Let me put your minds at ease by saying that the answer to two of these questions is no. So which of these questions has another answer? Well, I have not gone mad, as I was already quite mad to start with. Right, so with all that out of the way why do a post like this? My blog has been and always shall be a multitopic blog. I have way too many hobbies, and I like talking about all of them here, so that’s not going to change. The reason I started watching seasonal anime at the beginning of this year is that I have really enjoyed the interaction with everyone talking about what happened in a new episode on a weekly basis. It was like we all sat down together in a big room, with our favorite snacks and drinks and watched an episode at the same time. Now I am sorry to say that I am not going to be writing weekly episode reviews on the new shows.

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Imagine that this is showing up in your local neighbourhood.

For one thing it would take up too much time that I don’t have. For another it would mean this blog really would be focussing too much on anime, and I have a lot of readers that also like to read about other things such as movies, Korean dramas and boardgames. But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the new shows that I have started watching since this weekend and let you know my thoughts on them. So this really is a first for my blog, but I hope you will like it nonetheless. Usually I try to keep up with about 4-5 shows. I already struggle with that amount, let alone any more. So that’s why I am now watching a total of six new shows. Erm…right. I’m as surprised as you are. No idea if I can stick with all of these, but I am going to try as so far all of them have been a blast. Well, let’s get cracking and reveal them!

Zombieland Saga

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Genre: Comedy, Horror   

Most of you know that I am not a huge fan of comedy. But sometimes there are exceptions and this anime is one of them. This show is completely insane, and that’s probably why I am enjoying it so much. Highschool girl Sakura Minamoto is tragically killed when she gets run over by a car. But her story doesn’t end there. Ten years later she finds herself resurrected as a zombie and together with a bunch of other girls that have also turned into the living dead, they have to save the so called Saga Prefecture…..as an idol group! Now if this plot doesn’t sound totally crazy wait till you see the show itself. I had tears in my eyes from laughing when these girls went up on stage, headbanging to death metal and it’s probably one of the craziest scenes I have ever seen in an anime. I have no idea where this show will go or if it will continue to be this much fun, but so far I am really enjoying it.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Goblin Slayer

 

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Genre: Fantasy

As much as I love the fantasy genre, weirdly enough I have hardly seen any fantasy anime shows. Yeah, I know right, that is strange. So, with Goblin Slayer I hope to change that. A young and very inexperienced priestess, joins an adventuring party on a quest to fight a bunch of nasty goblins. But soon all hell breaks loose, and she finds herself in big trouble. Just when all hope seems lost a mysterious stranger who introduces himself as Goblin Slayer enters the field. This show felt like I was playing Dungeons and Dragons again. I was pretty surprised by the brutality on display here though. Blood flew everywhere, but it was especially the violence against some of the women here (there was even a rape scene) that kind of threw me off. That said though, I still thought this was a solid first episode and I especially like the look of what I assume to be the hero of this anime, Goblin Slayer. So, I’m going to see where this will go.

First Impression Score: 7 out of 10

SSSS. Gridman

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Genre: Science Fiction, Mecha

I already described this one on twitter as the anime version of Pacific Rim and I think that description is fairly accurate. Yūta Hibiki is a highschool boy who has lost his memory. On an old computersystem someone that introduces himself as Hyper Agent Gridman appears and tells the boy he has a mission to fullfill. Apperently he is the only one who can see Gridman too. When a huge monster appears in his city, Yūta has to step up to the call. This first episode was very enjoyable. I loved the fight sequence between the monster and the huge robot, and it kind of gave me this old school anime vibe. Can’t say much more about this one yet though. I do hope it won’t turn into one of those “monster of the week” type of shows which would be kind of a shame. Other than that I kind of enjoyed this for what it was, and look forward to next week’s episode.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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Genre: Romance, Highschool, Supernatural

This is a show I would probably have passed over had I not read about it over on Karandi’s blog. Because really, that title is just crazy. Surprisingly enough, this is the show that has left the biggest impression on me. Highschool boy Sakuta Azusagawa sees a mysterious girl in the school library wearing a bunny suit. If that wasn’t strange enough already he is the only one who can see her. The girl called Mai Sakurajima is a teenage actress who is on hiatus, and is now suffering from what they call “ Adolescence Syndrome”. More and more people are unable to see the girl, and this of course leads to all kinds of problems. How do you order food for instance when no one is able to see you? To say I loved this first episode is an understatement. The entire show just had a certain vibe to it, and I loved the dialogue between the two leads. Add to this the mystery element, as well as some pretty relatable themes and this for me has turned into my favorite show so far.

First Impression Score: 9 out of 10

Sword Art Online: Alicization

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Yes people Sword Art Online is back for it’s third season which of course will probably start up all the discussions again on how many people are going to hate on this. I don’t care and I’m proud to say it too: I freaking LOVE this show. The first episode of this new season was 47 minutes long and it was a very strong start of this new arc in my opinion. Kirito and Asuna, as well as a bunch of other fan favorite characters all make a welcome return, with an episode that felt a lot like we were back in the first season of this wonderful anime. Some great action sequences (Yay, we had dragons), a new and mysterious world, and a lot of questions is pretty much what I experienced while watching this opening episode. I do have to say that in all honesty there was a lot of information thrown at us, and some of it still hasn’t really registered with me. But I’m pretty sure with a whopping 50 episode count, there will be enough time to explain all this. Either way, I really had a good time watching it and can’t wait to see how the new season will progress.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Last Impression

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I’m mad!!! Where is show number six!!!!!!

So, observant readers will probably notice that I mentioned I would be watching six shows. But I have only written about five of them. Where is number six? Well, it’s not a new show and it is only a continuation of last season. I’m of course talking about an anime that needs no introduction (and if it does, where have you been all this time): Attack on Titan. The third season so far, while having a totally different vibe than the previous two, has been a total joy to watch. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will stay that way, because right now, it’s slowly turning into my favorite season so far.Well this post is long enough now, so it’s time to put an end to this. I hope you like the choices that I have made (and feel free to let me know in the comments), and I look forward to discussing all these new shows in the upcoming weeks with you. I hope everyone will have a lot of fun watching this season. Thanks for reading and see you on the next post!

Venom, American movie (2018)

I think it’s a safe bet to say that even if you don’t like comic books, everyone has probably heard of the name Spiderman. One of the most popular comic book characters ever created, he has been webslinging his way throughout hundreds of comics as far back as 1962. Every superhero of course also needs some foes to fight, and Spiderman is definitely not an exception to that rule. Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Vulture are just a few of the names that our friendly neighbourhood spider has had to face over the years. However, there will always be an enemy that is just a little bit more memorable than all of the others combined. And for Spiderman that foe was introduced way back in 1988: Venom. This horrific looking character became an instant fan favorite, and fans were overjoyed to hear that he would be making an appearance in the Spiderman 3 movie from 2007 starring Tobey Maguire. Sadly the movie wasn’t very good and Venom himself was woefully underused. Okay, enough with the history lessons. This year Venom has finally gotten his own movie, weirdly enough with his nemesis Spiderman being absent. So can a movie like this work like that? Well, the short answer is: yes, it most certainly can.

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Sometimes you just need to have a civilised talk to work things out.

Eddie Brock is an investigative journalist that seems to have it made. He is soon to marry the love of his life Anne Weying, and he has a job that seems to be going very well for him. As is usally the case when things go well, it’s all about to come crashing down on him. The Life Foundation, a bio-engineering corporation that Anne works for, has been conducting experiments with something they have found in outer space. It’s CEO, a man named Carlton Drake seems to be a very benovelent man, but this is all a front. Eddie has become very suspicious of him especially when he is approached by one of the employees of the company, Dora Skirth. She tells Eddie about the experiments that have been going on and helps him enter the building one evening to find proof. However, while investigating, the hapless journalist inadvertently becomes infected by a parasitic lifeform. Not just any lifeform though, but one that gives him powers that have never before been seen on Earth. It has yet to be determined if the entity that calls itself Venom is a friend or a foe though. Meanwhile Carlton Drake will stop at nothing to get his lifeform back, no matter who will die in the process….

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This is exactly the reason why you should always wait for your turn at the counter.

I’m seriously beginning to hate the critics these days. This movie has been torn to shreds by pretty much every single one of them and I have to wonder if some of them have even seen the movie. I said it quite recently in a review for Skyscraper I think that in general the critics have made it a sport to trash films that only offer fun. The problem is though that when people start to read those “reviews” their mindset is already influenced and some might even avoid going to the film altogether. Which would be a real shame as Venom is simply put a really fun film.While it’s certainly not perfect, it doesn’t deserve all the bashing that is currently directed at it by the so called experts. Eddie Brock is played by one of my favorite actors from the current era, Tom Hardy. He is a man who can pretty much handle every role they throw at him. In this film, he plays a character that is a bit of a loser for lack of a better word, but still comes out on top by becoming a (anti-) hero. I wouldn’t say it’s his best performance if I’m honest, but still he looks like he had a lot of fun in playing the role.

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Honestly he really is a nice guy once you get to know him.

But besides playing the role of Eddie, he also performs the voice of the alien symbiote Venom. The scenes where he is having discussions with himself and his alien alter ego provided some of the funniest moments in this movie. I love it when Venom just wants to go all out and eat people, but Brock tries to reason with this monster. It was surprising to me that this film contained a lot of (dark) humor. I honestly did not expect to find that in this movie, but it really worked. The rest of the actors in this film just simply don’t have very memorable parts. Michelle Williams who is always an accomplished actress plays the love interest of Eddie. But her role was to small for her to be able to really shine. The relatively unknown actor Riz Ahmed was cast as the villain Carlton Drake but I honestly didn’t find his role very impressive. It was too flat to really have that evil edge so to speak. Then again that also could have something to do with the script which wasn’t one of the strongest ones I have seen in these type of films.

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Talk to the hand…..

However the action and CGI sequences more than made up for this. When you first see the full Venom suit make an appearance it is really an extraordinary sight. It serves as a welcome reminder to see how much computer generated special effects have really progressed. The film was a bit slow in the first half hour or so, but then kicks into full gear, and I really found myself entertained for most of it’s runtime. Another complaint I have heard a number of times is that this movie didn’t get an R-rating. Granted Venom’s character certainly is violent, and the film had most of that violence shown off screen, but that didn’t mean that the movie was any worse because of that. So in the end Venom is another example of how the critics again rather unfairly treated this film as total garbage. It’s not the best superhero movie ever made, nor is it perfect, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable film that’s well worth seeing in the theatres. In other words, don’t always believe everything people write (including this post). Just go and see it with an open mind, and form your own opinion on it. You might be very surprised…

I give Venom a 8 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: My top 10 Solo Boardgames (part 1)

You all still know Arthifis right? He and I did a fun collab post earlier this week about the art of commenting, and if you missed that one you can find it right here. So why mention him again? Well for starters he is a great guy and if you are not yet following his blog, you should do so immediately. His posts are diverse, often offer some great advice on the art of blogging, and are always a joy to read. And I did already mention he was a great guy right? Anyways a few weeks ago he asked me if I could maybe do a top 10 list for my favorite solo boardgames. Well, how can I say no to a request like that? So Arthifis, this post is for you! I decided to break this one down into two parts, so you all don’t have to scroll for ages or get incredibly bored by it all. I love playing boardgames but I don’t always have people I can play them with. So that’s why I love the fact that there are some really cool games out there that can be played on your own, and be just as much fun as if you are playing with a group.

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Now, this list is made up of games that I own myself, but in no way is it near complete. There is a huge range of boardgames out there that I haven’t played yet, and offer some great solo options as well. But, that said, I still hope you will enjoy going through this and find something you might like. If you want to see some of the games I feature in this post in action, you might want to check out the channel the Vitruvian Gamer over on Youtube. It’s hosted by Kurt, truly one of the nicest guys you are ever likely to meet, and he always has amazing playthrough videos amongs other things that are well worth the watch. I have provided a link here if you are interested and want to subscribe to his channel. I’m sure he will appreciate it. So, with all that out of the way, let’s go and start the countdown shall we?

10: Fuse

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Not every game needs to be complex or take hours to play. Fuse is a fun dice game, where you literally race against the clock to prevent bombs going of on a spaceship. There is a timer that counts down from the 10 minute mark, and within that time you have to defuse bombs with your dice. Some of these are easy, and some are extremely hard. In the meantime the ship’s A.I. System talks to you (provided by a free App) and becomes ever more crazy when the clock nears the zero mark. It’s just a fun, quick little game that can be learned in minutes. If you want a more indepth look at this, you might want to check out my review for it here.

9. Legacy of Dragonholt

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Well, most of you have probably heard of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. The problem with roleplaying games however is that hardly any of them can be played solo. This one though, is totally different. It’s a game that is kind of a choose your own adventure where you are taken on a epic quest throughout a fantasy realm. I haven’t yet had a chance to really dive into this one, but you can expect a review for it somewhere along the way. I love the way it looks, and the game is huge and will take you many days to complete. Also it has a very detailed character creation system, but still offers little to no rules, that are mostly learned by just delving into the game itself.

8. Death Angel: The Space Hulk cardgame

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This cardgame based on the popular boardgame of the same name, takes you on journey into the bowels of a derelict spacecraft. You take control of a squad of Terminator Space Marines, that have a mission to carry out. However the ship is infested by the vicious Genestealer aliens, and succes is by no means certain. This game is nailbiting and very tough. Every round you have to make splitsecond decisions where you give orders to your troops. These orders can mean life or dead for your squad. As more Marines are killed off, the game becomes ever more challenging. This is a truly great game, but sadly it’s one that is now out of print. Still the good news is that there are still a few websites that have the game on offer. If you like movies such as Alien, this is one game you might want to check out.

7. Samurai Spirit

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This game is so much fun. It places you in the middle of a village that is getting attacked by a series of bandits, and you have to defend it. And by you I mean a bunch of samurai that have mystic powers, and can even transform into animal spirits. It brings back memories of classic Samurai films from Japanese cinema. This is also a game that is very easy to learn and has a lot of replayability in it as well. There are a huge number of different options available to you, and that is what makes this game so much fun to play. It’s another game that I wrote a post on, so if you want some more information for this just click on the link provided right here.

6. Hostage Negotiator

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This game is specifically designed to be played solo. And not only that it is one that really has one of the most unique settings ever. If you have seen the film the Negotiator it can almost be said that this is the game version of that film. A really unsteady individual has taken captive a number of people, and it is up to you to talk the guy or girl down. The game pretty much takes you through a conversation with the terrorist, while you try to negotiate with him or her to release the hostages. You can buy cards that offer you more options in such negotiations, and depending on the stress level of the captor, you will have a number of them open to you. This is another nailbiter, where you race against time to save a set number of people. If too many hostages die, it’s game over. There are quite a few expansions available for this game as well, that will pit you against different kinds of kidnappers.

Well…that’s it for part one. Stay tuned for part two next week, where I will be covering some of my alltime favorite games. Thanks for reading and I hope you will all have a great weekend!

The Void, Canadian/American movie (2016)

God, I hate hospitals. I don’t know if I have ever said this to you all, but really I do. Then again I don’t think that there are many people out there that like hospitals in the first place. But seriously, the smell alone once you enter the place, is enough to make me turn on my feet and walk on out of there. I have so far had to experience a hospital only twice in my life, both times for nothing serious. But, that did mean I also had to stay there at night. And really things are even worse then you know? Honestly, I think they are some of the creepiest buildings created by men. Tell me that I am wrong? So why all this talk of hospitals? Am I making plans to go there soon? Hell to the no! Interesting that I should mention hell though. With Halloween creeping up on our doorsteps soon, I thought it was nice to once again turn back to one of my favorite moviegenres: horror. And after the rather gloomy review I wrote yesterday , it’s time for something a bit more lighthearted. Well, at least something a bit more uplifting? Though come to think of it, this film is anything but uplifting. Unless you can find comfort in a descent straight down into the bowels of hell….

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Some people really can’t read signs. Caution stand back? Duh…..

Police Deputy Daniel Carter is enjoying a nice and quiet night in his patrol car when a man comes stumbling out of the woods he is parked next to. Daniel at first thinks it’s some drunken teenager, but soon finds out that the man is covered in blood. Rushing the wounded man to his car, he screeches off intending to take the man to a hospital. The only one available is one that is a largely abandoned due to a fire. It also happens to be the place where his estranged wife works, Allison Fraser. Once he arrives there the man is quickly taken away to be helped by one of the doctors on duty a man called Richard. But it’s then when strange things are beginning to happen. A nurse brutally kills one of the patients and attacks Daniel. He barely manages to defend himself and escape the sudden attack. But when white robed people are beginning to surround the hospital, the true nightmare begins. It’s going to be a night that Daniel will never forget. A darkness, oh so evil has been awakened and the deputy soon finds himself in what can only be called a place taken straight from the most foulest places of hell itself….

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SOMEbody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. 

It is no real secret that I am huge fan of The Thing, and if there is one movie that this one reminded me of, it’s that classic. This is one of those great, gory, a little bit gross, but oh so fun creature movies. It’s low budget, but it certainly doesn’t show that at all. Right from the very start of this film, the movie sets a very creepy and chilling tone and builds up the pace. I loved the way that this film did that. At first you don’t quite know yet what is going on. It seems there’s some kind of cult, maybe even something drugrelated things, but then when the first totally disgusting creature makes it’s appearance, the film goes into full on horror mode. The movie is gory, no hiding that fact. A lof of sickening, oozing and dripping fluids are spent in this movie but it gets nowhere near as bad as for instance Evil Dead. A creature feature stands or falls with the way the monsters are shown, and in this the movie doesn’t disappoint. A lot of designs are very unique (and suitably horrifying), and it also isn’t one of those films where you only see them as shadows in darkness. Still, this isn’t a blockbuster so don’t expect to see state of the art effects. But they are effective, no question about that.

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Nope…not creepy at all….

Another thing this movie has going for it, is it’s setting. As I mentioned, a hospital is a pretty scary place to begin with. But it has to be said that the sets in this film are really wonderfully created. As it’s a rundown building, it only adds to the atmosphere this film has. Most of the actors in this film are relatively unknowns, but I have to admit that the acting in this film is quite decent. The main hero of the movie, Daniel, is played by actor Aaron Poole. He manages to create a likeable character that tries to make the most out of a totally abnormal situation. He really carries most of the movie on his own, though his fellow supporting cast members do some admirable jobs themselves. None of the characters are very well worked out though, so don’t expect to grow really attached to them. That’s a little bit of a missed opportunity I think, as it would have made the film just a little bit better in my opinion. But honestly it doesn’t ruin the movie in any way for me, as there are enough scares and intense scenes that make this film very enjoyable.

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You know that things are bad when they start bringing out the axe!

I do think the film loses a little bit of momentum near the end. It’s luckily not enough to undo everything that came before it, but I do feel the ending could have been a little bit better. All in all though The Void was a very pleasant surprise. If you love low budget horror movies, or are a fan of the old Carpenter flicks, I urge you to try this one out. I think it’s one of the better horror movies that I have seen in a while. If you don’t like your horrormovies in the gory way though, this one is best avoided. So I guess this is it for this erm, did I mention in the beginning “uplifting” review? Okay, guess it didn’t really pan out that way after all. Well, can’t win them all I guess. Hope you still enjoyed reading this one though, and I will see you on the next one! Thanks for reading!

I give The Void a 8 out of 10 score.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, American movie (2018)

One of my favorite parts of going to a movie theatre, besides eating snacks, is the previews. It’s always exciting to see new and interesting trailers for movies that will be coming out later in the year. However these days, trailers have changed a lot from what they were years ago. While the main purpose of one is of course getting you excited for an upcoming film, nowadays I think that trailers quite often just give away too much. Sometimes whole plotpoints are revealed, and at times this certainly make me regret looking at one in the first place. Now I know what you are going to say: Why watch them then? I think that is a very good question. A good trailer for me, is one that shows you scenes to give you enough of a tease to look forward to a film, while at the same time holding back enough to not ruin the movie itself. It’s an art that not every one seems to have mastered. So why bring this up right now? Well, I will answer that with another question. What if a trailer shows you the entire film in a little over two minutes? Don’t think that can be done? Think again!

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Wait….wasn’t this movie called Ant-man? This looks more like Giant-man!

With all the succes Marvel has had it gave the studio free rein to experiment with characters that are not as well known to the moviegoing audience. Three years ago we got Ant-man, a film that I went to the theatres for with little to no expectations. It ended up being a very nice and lighthearted film, with a lot of humor, some great special effects and a terrific lead in the form of Paul Rudd who played the role of Scott Lang. After this year’s incredible Avengers Infinity War movie (yes I know I still haven’t written a review for that one yet lol), the question on everybody’s mind was: where was Ant-man? Erm, well on some people’s minds anyway. Ant-man and the Wasp answers that question, at least sort of. In any case, we again meet up with Scott Lang, who has been under house arrest and is very close to the end of his sentence. He is trying to be a better father for his daughter, and it seems he is succeeding on that part.

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That’s more like it. Was getting confused there for a second!

But of course eventually, as it always does, bad stuff starts to happen again. His former love interest Hope, has been trying to find a way together with her father to bring back her mother who disappeared into the quantum realm several years ago. But wait, wasn’t she supposed to be dead? Well…yes, but after having Scott return from that place where nobody is supposed to return from, it gave Hope some much needed erm…hope. Of course, our favorite mini sized hero eventually gets dragged into this, and just in time as well, as a new player appears on the scene in the form of Ghost. While in the middle of a deal for trying to obtain an important piece of technology in order to gain access to the quantum realm, Hope gets attacked by this mysterious figure. Just who is Ghost, and what is he or she trying to accomplish? Whatever it might be, it seems to tie in directly to Hope’s mother…

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Is it just me, or does this seem like a character that looks like it walked away out of an anime?

Now, I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned the fact that a full movie can be shown in a trailer. Antman and the Wasp’s trailer accomplished it. There was nothing, and I really mean nothing, in this movie that was a surprise. The trailer really shows you everything, and there wasn’t a single scene in the film that showed me something that I wasn’t expecting. I really thought this was maybe just me, but a friend of mine who had also seen the movie, said the exact same thing. And even well known You Tuber Tyrone Magnus (If you don’t know him yet, go check him out. He has over 1.2 million subscribers, and is totally awesome), made a video review pointing this out. Now I don’t exactly know what this says about the movie itself though. Sure the trailer maybe showed too much, but thinking back on it, I don’t know how they could have done it in any other way. As really there wasn’t anything else worth showing to tease the movie going audience into seeing this film.

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I guess they both smell really bad as they both have masks on. 

Does this mean that this is a bad film though? Well….for one thing this is a comedy movie. And as many of you know I’m not a fan of those. Where the first movie really had some delightful comedic moments, it also had a serious edge to it, and the comedy served simply to lighten the mood. Here it was the other way around: it was full on comedy mode, with jokes that sometimes worked, but also a lot of times fell flat. Without spoiling too much, the humor also felt out of place especially when you find out the nature of this film’s villain. And to be honest, that “villain” wasn’t the best we have seen in a Marvel movie. After all the darkness of Infinity War I can understand that Marvel wanted something lighter to follow in the wake of that movie. But I don’t know if this film completely succeeded at that. But it has to be said, it really isn’t a bad movie, as there is also enough to enjoy.

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I’m as shocked as you are about the final score: Are you crazy?!

Paul Rudd certainly once again serves up the magic as he really brings to life his character in the best way possible. He really does a great job to show he is a father who would do anything for his daughter, and his on screen chemistry with Evangeline Lily who plays Hope aka the Wasp, is also a delight to see. Michael Douglas is always a solid actor, and I really liked the way he evolved his character of Hank Pym into a more symphatetic and likeable one. Criminally underused was actress Michelle Pfeiffer who just had a very small part in the film. I really would have loved to see more of this incredible actress, but sadly that was not to be. Oh well…there is probably always the inevitable sequel. The action scenes and special effects were great, but there certainly weren’t many of them. This is a small movie for Marvel standards, and one that seems befitting to the size of it’s main character. Overall, I was disappointed by this one. But it could be I was just expecting too much or the trailer just ruined it for me. While I was still entertained by the film, it had just too little to offer to make this one of the better Marvel films. If you like comedies, you can add another point to the overall rating below.

I give Ant-man and the Wasp a 6 out of 10 score.

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Anime tv series (2018)

It is early sunday morning and raining outside, when I enter my darkened room. An eerie sense of calm enters my body when I switch on my xbox 360 and television, take up my controller and place my headset on my ears. The screen shows the logo of the game, Unreal Tournament 3, and I scroll through the menu to select the gametype: Deathmatch. The word alone causes fear amongst players. Not to me though. I press enter and after a small loading screen I get taken to the arena where the match is about to start. Three, two, one…..play! I move slowly trying to get my bearings and then the first opponent appears. I make a show as if I am trying to raise my weapon: Bammm…I’m dead! Five minutes into the game and I haven’t made a single kill yet. I can hear players laughing and calling out my name: “ Haha…this Raistlin guy is such a noob! He must have just bought the game, what a fool!” With five more minutes left a grin of mischief appears on my face. Like a demon I start playing the game in earnest. My opponents are dropping like flies, and the overhead voice thunders” Massacre……” A thirty plus kill streak without dying…in just a few short minutes I have completely taken over the lead and win the game…….

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You can almost hear Arnold Schwarzenegger screaming: BILLY!!!!

So you are probably wondering what the hell you just read. Or if I am just making up a story. Well….no. During my gaming days there was one game I was good at: and that was Unreal Tournament 3, an online first person shooter where I at one point was number 10 on the worldwide Xbox 360 ranking lists. The scene I just described was something I did a lot in that game. Pretend I was a total klutz, only to turn the tables on every one later. So why bring this up now? Well the anime I am about to review is about a shooting game as well, though much more advanced then the ones we are used to playing right now. You might recall that in the second season of Sword Art Online Kirito entered a new virtual reality game called Gun Gale Online that used guns instead of swords (although that did not stop Kirito from using one anyway). In this spinoff series we again enter that dark gameworld, but instead of focussing on the main cast we get introduced to a new group of characters.

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Peek-a-boo!!

Karen Kohiruimaki is a university student who is abnormally tall for a woman, a fact that she has never really come to terms with. But then she discovers the Gun Gale Online game which allows her to create a character that is the exact opposite of what she is in real life. Her alter ego, or avatar called Llenn is a very small and cute girl, dressed in pink. Yes, not exactly someone you would find in a brutal shooter game. But Llenn is someone who should not be underestimated. After playing for a while Karen gets better at the game, and Llenn gets a reputation and the nickname “Pink Devil” .Soon she meets up with a mysterious woman called Pitohui, who apparently is an ace in the game. The two of them team up, and also make a promise: if Llenn ever manages to defeat Pito they will meet each other in real life. The warriorwoman introduces Llenn to the squad jam game type where groups of players will try to defeat each other. But it soon becomes clear that Pitohui might have a completely different agenda….

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Let me teach you to play with the stick…erm…wait that just sounded weird….

Well let’s get this out of the way first: This show is not as good as Sword Art Online. There, I have said it. Is that a bad thing though? Nope, not in the case of this anime anyway. What we have here is very light show that focusses more on action than on the story itself. Which is not to say that there isn’t a message hidden inside this one if you look hard enough. Karen manages to overcome her complex of being tall by playing the game. And I for one could very much relate to that kind of story. I was never very good at sports, but by playing games such as Unreal Tournament I managed to create a kind of confidence in myself that I was good at other things. We all probably have things in real life that we have a problem with and might even cause us to lose faith in ourselves at times. But sometimes it’s nice to just disappear for a while in a make believe world and in that way discover things inside yourself you might never have thought you possessed.

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If soldiers looked like this in real life I don’t think there would ever be any kind of wars.

As I said, the story does take a backseat in this anime, but the action more than makes up for that. There are some really cool gunfights in this show, and one battle in particual where Pitohui takes on a enormous group of enemies pretty much by herself is truly memorable. As far as the characters go they just aren’t as interesting as the ones in the original series. Llenn is a very cute character, and a good fighter and you do grow to love her over the course of the series. But..she really hasn’t got much depth to her. Then there is M, a sidekick of Pitohui that reminded me of Billy in the movie Predator. He had an interesting kind of background but they could really have done much more with him. It was Pitohui however, that definitely was the driving force of the show. I just loved her (except when she started laughing hysterically, that just grated on my nerves). In a way her character arc was pretty tragic especially when the series progresses and you find out more about her motivations.

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This is an outtake..somehow they forgot to draw her eyes.

All in all this 12 part spinoff series was a pretty pleasant surprise. The animation itself, while not groundbreaking was good enough, and the numerous action sequences offer some truly edge of your seat moments. If you are a fan of Sword Art Online, it’s hard to say if you are going to like this. There are a few very small references made to the second season arc of the show, which are also kind of fun to discover, but otherwise this series stands on it’s own. As I am a fan myself and enjoyed the entire SAO series I would say that if you did not have a problem with it’s second season, you might want to give this one a try. Don’t expect this to be a third season of the main show though but keep your expectations low. And if you are not a fan, it all depends on whether you like action heavy animes. For me this show worked, but I can also understand people that gave this one a pass or stopped wathing it.

I give Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online 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.