Shmee Gets Folded In To A Wrinkle In Time!

A Wrinkle In Time is a favorite from my childhood.  It was read to me when I was very young, and then I read it by myself latter, multiple times, so it was never a mystery to me why it was never made in to a major motion picture.  It is a weird book, and it would take a lot of effort to get right, and it would probably not get a lot of return on that effort.  Unfortunately for Ava DuVernay, her A Wrinkle In Time gets so caught up trying to wow us with magic and wonder that it doesn’t tell an engaging story.

The plot for the movie is similar to the one from the book.  Meg Murry (Storm Reid) has been a troubled kid since the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine) four years prior.  A scientist who believes that you can travel the stars with only your mind.  It turns out that he was right, and he is lost in the stars, so Meg, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and friend from school Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) will go out to look for him with the help of the Mrs.’.  A group of space traveling supernatural beings, and Oprah.

Obviously since I love the book, I have no real problems with the plot of the movie.  The problem is that it is a little threadbare.  We know that Meg has issues, and that she has to deal with them so she can be a ‘warrior’ and find her father, but I am never sure that she really does.  A Wrinkle In Time says Meg does, and she does get less grumpy, but really she just moves from place to place while a giant Oprah Mrs. Which tells her affirming things.  When in actuality it seems like only The Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis) gives her any useful advice.  Letting her know that it is okay to be scared of the answers to life’s questions, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking them anyway.

You would hope that with the story having issues that maybe the spectacle would make up for it, and they tried.  A $100 Million budget allows you to do whatever you want, but not well enough to not look cheesy.  Someone should have come along beside DuVernay and told her that she should scale things back a bit.  Like maybe have Oprah be normal sized, so the visual effects artists don’t have to do a poor job of digitally painting her on to the scenery, and so she can better interact with the other actors.  It is not just Oprah though, nothing ever looks 100% like it should, which is a shame.

The actors are all okay.  Though they are not given a lot to do except smile weirdly or look amazed while caught in an extreme close up.  So close.  If a child’s face doesn’t fit on a movie theater screen, you need to back up the camera a bit.  Storm Reid does her best to show Meg’s transition from troubled to ‘warrior’, but she doesn’t quite get the scenes necessary to make it work.  However, they did manage to pull it all together for an emotional punch at the end.

I wanted to love A Wrinkle In Time, but instead it was merely okay.  It had parts that worked, but they get lost between the poor plotting and bad CGI.  Kids will probably still like this movie, and it is fine family fare, but this is not the classic that I am sure Disney was hoping for.  That way they could green light the next four books.  I am sure that in ten years Disney will try again, and maybe then they will get it right.

Shmee Makes Hats Out Of Monsters!

I have had Monster Hunter: World since it came out, and even though I have played quite a bit of it, I have never posted a review because I felt that I had only scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, and I still feel that way, but I am going to let you know my thoughts on the title anyway.  It is massive and fun, but sometimes the thought of actually playing it overwhelms me.

Monster Hunter: World is a streamlined and much better looking version of every other Monster Hunter game out there, but if you have already played other Monster Hunter games, then you probably don’t need this review because you are knee deep in some Flying T-Rex’s flesh right now.  For everyone else, Monster Hunter: World is a game where you go out in to a varied landscape and hunt all sorts of large creatures, and then turn their parts in to better equipment, so you can fight even bigger monsters in cooler parts of the world.  You do this until you fight a dragon as big as a mountain.

That may sounds like a massive grind, and it is.  The whole game is based around grinding massive animals to get really cool stuff.  Of course when you go out and hunt those creatures, you will probably not get the bones or pelts you need, so you will have to do this a few times.  That may sound dull, but the monsters are awesome, and the world they have created is like a real place.  It is magical to see how all these beasts interact with each other.  They have created a really good ecosystem simulation for these mythical beasts, and they let you murder (or capture) all of it.

Another awesome part of the game is that every weapon in Monster Hunter: World, makes the game feel different.  You will have to drastically change your play style if you decide to move on from the weapon you are currently using (it is a good idea to YouTube the weapon before using it), and there are fourteen different weapon types, and each of those weapons has a myriad of upgrades you can grind from those poor, poor massive deadly creatures.  Then it gets even better if you play with friends (if you can figure out how to play with your fiends)!

This game will not be for everyone.  If you hate long drawn out battles versus boss type creatures, maybe you should skip Monster Hunter: World, or perhaps borrow a friend’s copy before laying down your hard earned cash, but the monsters are different enough that you will have to change your strategy for every monster you face, and that keeps things fresh.  You can also just start using a different weapon if you want change things up for a while.  I am having a good time with it, but due to the prep and the time required for fighting the monsters, I can only play at little bit at a time.  Others have not had that problem.  At all.  I recommend it, but just know what you are getting in to before starting Capcom’s most successful game of all time.

Shmee Shoots A Lot Arrows With Merida!

Games with Gold has given us two Disney games back to back this year.  The first being the interesting yet flawed racer Split Second, and now a true ‘Disney’ game in that it is based off of Pixar’s Brave.  Brave: The Video Game is better than most licensed platformers, but that is not a high bar to clear.  That it is playable and has some fun moments means it is already better than 90% of the other licensed dreck out there.  It will not however be a game that you long to play day in and day out.

In order to gamify Merida’s story, Behaviour Interactive had to change a lot of Brave’s plot.  Instead of roaming about with Merida’s mother bear looking for a way to undo the spell, Merida now knows exactly what she has to do, and that is to use a variety of arrow and sword types to clear out all the blighted creatures from her father’s kingdom.  Then the Witch’s magic will work properly again, and she will be able to change Merida’s mother back.  Merida will also get help from her Mother and her brothers from time to time.

At first I thought Brave would just have a lazy hack and slash mechanic that would allow kids to button spam their way through this game, and it can probably still be played that way by exclusively using the sword and setting the game on easy, but the arrows are much more fun.  They shoot by just aiming the right analog stick the way you want to shoot.  In other words, Brave: The Video Game is a twin stick shooter/platformer, and in the moments when they are throwing a lot of different enemies at you and you are constantly changing arrow types to do the most damage, it is a lot of fun.  Even more fun, it has co-op where one person plays Merida and one person plays a giant wisp.  A wisp with Merida’s powers and equipment, so it is great for a parent to play with a younger child.  Which is what I am doing right now.

Unfortunately, it falls down in most other areas.  The graphics are fine, but dark and muddy, and everything looks the same.  There is no real gameplay variety.  You will jump from one place to the next, and then once you get to a purple ‘blighted’ area, you will shoot all the spawning monsters.  Clear that and you will jump around some more.  You will do this around eight times then finish the game.

Listen, Brave: The Video Game is a game for kids and their parents to play together, and it works rather well as Timmy’s first twin stick shooter, but once you are done with it, I don’t think you will go back for more.  The ‘hidden’ items are all easy to find and get to, and the game itself is quite easy, but if your daughter loves Merida and playing video games, it is worth downloading to show her how to make a blue orb shoot arrows all over the place.

Shmee Witnesses The Frankenstein Chronicles!

It is hard to keep track of the almost infinite number of shows Netflix has, but my wife’s love period pieces combined with my love of light horror made The Frankenstein Chronicles very interesting.  Now, if you are from across the pond you may be wondering what the big deal is.  This show is from 2015, but due to channels changing and going under and a myriad of rights issues it has taken three years to hit North America, and it is now called a Netflix Original.  Of course the main reason to watch this show is to see if Sean Bean’s character can live through it.

The Frankenstein Chronicles takes place in London during the early 1800’s.  Which if you were not rich was apparently not a great time to be living in the city.  Much like Taboo and a lot of other new grimy period UK dramas, there are not a lot of balls or tee parties in this show.  Instead, Sean Bean plays a police officer that patrols the water ways, and one day a child washes up on shore.  Which sadly isn’t that uncommon, but in this case it looks like it is several children all sewn together.  Not unlike Mary Shelley’s infamous (at the time) novel.

The story and the actors really make this show work.  Not to mention the time period makes for a great setting since scientific medicine is just starting to take hold, but it is making the uneducated and superstitious populace very nervous.  Unfortunately, you can tell it is a non BBC show.  While the costumes and the actors are great, it feels like they are always in the same three rooms all the time.  Which is the long way of saying it feels like they blew their budget hiring Sean Bean, but he was worth cash in this case since he carries the show.

If a little blood and Sean Bean don’t scare you, The Frankenstein Chronicles is worth watching.  It is interesting, and there are some slight chills and thrills woven deftly in to this tale, as you would hope with Frankenstein being right in the title.  Now that Netflix owns it, I hope they pick it up for a few more seasons.

Shmee Tries Out A Logitech G433!

I recently got a Thrustmaster Ghost Recon Wildlands Y-350x from Xbox’s own Major Nelson, and for the most part I really like it.  It gives a good representation of 7.1 surround sound, and it fits on my large melon head.  The problem is that it doesn’t have inline controls, or a USB dongle, so to use it with my PC I need to loop it through an Xbox One controller.  While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is annoying to have it getting knocked around while playing games, or just using it with my PC in general, so to alleviate this issue, I picked up a refurbished red Logitech G433, and it is so much better.

The sound is crystal clear, even if a little muted, and the mic is a hundred times better.  Not to mention the cloth material it is covered with is just more comfortable to wear, and it is flexible enough to fit snuggly on my three-year-old’s head and mine while still being comfortable for both of us.  My issues so far are that it doesn’t have an Xbox One dongle, so it can only do surround on the PC (I guess I will still have to keep using my Y-350x), and the bass doesn’t quite hit hard enough for me.  What can I say, I like my bass.

Considering it is a basic simulated 7.1 surround sound headset, it is probably a little pricy at its suggested retail price.  Especially considering once you get over $100 mark there are a lot of options out there, but if you get one refurbished like I did for almost half the cost? Then it is probably one of the better cheap options out there.  I love Logitech’s gear, so I am probably a little biased, but I am very glad that I picked up this headset for my PC, and I like it so much that I might just put up with it being stereo only on my Xbox as well.