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The Northman Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

I went into this movie pretty blind. Running mostly off the trailer. Knowing only very little about Vikings. Only time I have heard the word Northman, was in Hellblade. Nevertheless, the trailer did more then enough to go out and see it opening night. Now, multiple days later, since I needed some time to really think about it, and lose track of days, lets dive in and discuss shall we.

(Blogger Note. A lot of names here have accents. I tried to figure out how to type them, but everything I found did not work. So, my apologies for not spelling your names with the necessary accents.)

Synopsis

After a brief bit of narration, the movie gets started with a young boy, Amleth, seeing his Father, The King, and his men returning to the village. After a successful battle. Racing to tell his Mom and they greet him on arrival. After the celebrations, we see the King had been badly injured. Seeing his time is near. Wanting to die in battle, but also needing to prepare his Son to succeed him. Against her wishes, he takes him to perform a ritual. Bottling his last tear, and swearing to avenge him if he were to fall. Which happens the next day, when a band of men, led by his uncle kills him and tries to kill Amleth. Managing to escape when he cuts off the nose of one of his pursuers. Making it back to the village. Witnessing more of his Uncle’s men killing people, and in his perspective; Kidnap his Mom to be his Uncle’s Queen. When the noseless guy returns. Saying the boy died in the sea. Amleth uses that to slip away by boat. Swearing he would return and avenge his Father, kill his Uncle and save his Mother. Years later, we catch up with him. Now, an adult and a member of a Viking group. On there way to Raid a village. Preparing through a ceremony to help them tap into their animalistic natures before hand, and overwhelm the village. Killing the fighters, enslaving the ones they deem fit and burning everyone else in a fire. That night, he stumbles upon the Seeress. Who tells him his time for vengeance is near. His Uncle’s kingdom has been overrun and is starting anew in Iceland. The Slaves they caught today, are heading there. Refueled by this, he slices his hair short, changes his clothes and brands himself. Sneaking onto the boat after it departs and where I will leave it

REVIEW

They did something very interesting, and that was they did not hold back here. They didn’t try to polish and work around how things were like back then. Going with history. Showing the ceremonies, rituals and how vicious the fights were. Especially, when the Vikings raided the village and how they treated those they defeated. It did have a side effect of, you can’t really get behind anyone. All of the guys are kind of terrible. The Queen has been broken and driven mad by what had been done to her. You get the romance between Amleth and Olga, but her goal is to escape slavery and she is a slave because of Amleth and his berserker group. With that said though, still applaud Robert Eggers and Sjon for seeping so much history of how things were and putting together a fantastic story of Tragedy.

This was shot beautifully. Loved the use of fire and torches to light up everything. Making for some shots that look beautiful, such as when they are preparing for the Raid, and the He witch is silhouetted by the campfire and the warriors getting into mindset, with some awesome music topping it off. While others that looked dirty and gritty. We will get into some issues with the music later, but for what it is worth. The soundtrack was great. The fight scenes were choreographed wonderfully. They were not smooth, but they were frantic and brutal. Being just in your face, win by any means, fights to the death that were fun to watch.

The cast was spot on, with the exception of one. Starting with the positive though. Alexander Skarsgard was great as Amleth. Coming off as a walking death machine. Not just ready to take on any treat, but believe that he can. Nicole Kidman was exceptional. Delivering the twist fantastically. Where she reveals that it was her behind the King’s death. That she was a slave who was forced upon and that was how Amleth was born and being kept around because of that and needed to do something to maintain her life and not go back to slavery. Anya Taylor-Joy was great as Olga of The Birch Forest. Bring the fiery spirit of a slave who was having none of their crap to life. Bjork was fun as The Seeress. Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Elliot Rose, and Willem Dafoe were all excellent.

On the flipside of that, we got a mixed and a negative. Starting with the mixed, we got Gustav Lindh as Thorir. When he did not really have to show emotion. Just be smug to the slaves, he was good and when he did. When his friend’s were killed. It was bad and it stood out in the scene.

On the negative side, and I am not just getting old. I loved the soundtrack but when you have people talking, in some really good, but thick accents. Turn it down, just a little. So, you know, I can follow what is being said.

Grade

So, this is why it is so late. Really wanted to think this over. Let it stew a bit in my head. Definitely a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll. This was not a movie that is for me. Kind of reminding me of when I reviewed The Huntress a few years ago, and how I passed on grading it. Which is not what I am doing now. Very different circumstances and different movies. Personal feelings aside though. It is a beautifully directed movie. Excellent soundtrack. The cast did a wonderful job at bringing the characters and feel of the movie together. Bringing you back to how things were and weaving a sense of history to it. It is not going to be a movie for everyone, but if you can handle a brutal, tragedy tale. Then you will enjoy this, if not, I would pass on it. Final Grade – A

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

AVP Aliens vs Predators: Ultimate Prey Audiobook

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

I was thrilled to see this drop on Audible. Was a massive fan of Alien: Bug Hunt and thrilled to see Jonathon Maberry coming back for Aliens vs Predators. I love the Yautja (Predator) and will always take them and the Xenomorphs being brought together. Now, that I have listened to it, multiple times, lets dive in, but just like before. I will do my best to skirt around any major spoilers. Do my nest to talk about the stories within without blowing anything major.

**Synopsis**

Ultimate Prey brings us Stretching from the old west to current day. On fierce foreign planets and deep space voyage in far away futures. Characters finding themselves caught in a timeless fight between extraterrestrials. One, running solely off of instincts. The other, bound by pride and honor of the hunt. While many, are unsuspecting. Dealing with something much larger then themselves. Others, are aware of the situation, but everyone will be digging down deep within, to find out how far they can push themselves and finding allies in unsuspected places.

**Review**

Going into it, was most excited for the Yautja and coming out of it, they were my favorite part. How much we got a deep dive into their lifestyles and actions. How much honor and pride they take, in not just the Hunt but their every day lives. the differing opinions they have on humans and how, not only did some of them change based around their encounters, but how they changed the people they were around.

A lot of the writers did something interesting. Which was done in the movies, but did click for me here and that was how different people reacted when dealing with a Yautja vs when they dealt with a Xenomorph. How scared and filled with terror a xenomorph they’d get when encountered by their more animalistic ways. While, their was base level of fear when staring at the Yautja. There was a morbid curiosity, in the foe that more resembles them in a way. More fear would tick in when the mask came off, but by then curiosity had already set in. This was not all the time of course, but was interesting when this did play out.

Loved the callback and references some utilized, such as the Raid on Area 51 event for the basis of their story. Bo’Kui being the ancestor from the Yautja from Drug Wars, in Predator: If it Bleeds anthology. A sequel to Predators and Scott Sigler bringing his world from Aliens: Phalanx back. Fun moments for people who have been following along and great way to get people to go back and enjoy what came before.

I loved the complex character work they bring us throughout. Abuse victim finding the strength to stand up for themselves. A trans character, who had been poisoned and left for dead on a planet in the middle of the battling species. Finding an unlikely ally, who is in a similar situation. On the flip side, you have Yautja’s who are coming to light with issues of their own. Broken pride and honor running deeper then they thought. All of which elevated the stories over just being about the hunt.

Alright, shout out time. Everyone killed it. Standing ovation to Jonathon Maberry and Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Again, can’t imagine how hard it was to narrow this down to fifteen and getting just the right placement. All of the writers did amazing. Pouring so much love and care into their stories and they would be. Even the couple, I was not a fan of, were still good. Just compared to the rest of the lot kind of fell flat. Starting with, Chris Ryall, Steven L. Sears, Delilah S. Dawson, David Barnett, Mira Grant, Susanne L. Lambdin, Jess Landry, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Yvonne Navarro, Curtis C. Chen, Roshin “Rush” Bhatia, Maurice Broaddus, E.C. Myers, Scott Sigler, Jonathon Maberry and Louis Ozawa. We got to call out the narrators as well, being an audiobook and all, and they did an excellent job breathing life into their characters and stories. Starting with, Bradford Hastings, Nicol Zanzarella, Stephanie Weeks, Feordor Chin, Timothy Andrés Padon, Soneela Nankani, Chelsea Stephens, Hilary Huber, Erica Sullivan, Sura Siu and Shiromi Arserio.

My Favorites

3. Abuse, Interrupted 2. First Hunt 1. Blood and Honor

This was a blast of an anthology. From great character work, deep dives into the Yautja and some terrifying moments with the Xenomorphs and some peeks up their own hierarchy. The pacing was perfect and even the ones I didn’t really take to I would listen to again. Just because I had such a good time in general. Check it out if you haven’t. Final Grade – S

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As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

The Batman Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

My intrigue level was rivaling my excitement going into the newest installment of Batman. Beyond the point of getting upset over casting of the Dark Knight. Proving the doubters wrong over and over when it comes to who wears the cape and cowl and willing to see what Robert can do with the character Liked the idea of this being an inexperienced Batman who is learning the ropes. Throw in Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman and they had the making of something good. Now, that it is in the books, let’s discuss.

**SYNOPSIS**

Movie kicks off, with Riddler watching the Mayor. Who after sees his family off, they are going trick-or-treating, turns on the debate. Talking to someone on the phone. Not happy his opponent is in a dead heap with him. Riddler attacks him when he gets off the phone, and begins to set the scene. From there, we jump to various ongoing crimes and a voice over from Bruce. Talking about how he has been doing this for two years and isn’t sure what kind of impact, if any, he has been having. That when Bat Signal comes on, it is not just a call, but spreads fear in those, that at any moment, he will seep out of the shadows and get them. And we see, most of the criminals flee at the sight. Staying clear of the dark, except for a gang at the train station, and sure enough, Batman comes out of the shadows. Taking the fight to them and putting the fear of god, in the guy they were attacking. Making his way to the Mayors. Being let into the crime scene, by Gordon. To the chagrin of most of the cops on the scene. Evaluating the scene. Seeing that a card had been left behind for him specifically, before the commissioner chases him out. Back at the cave, Bruce has removed the contact with the camera inside. Going back through what he saw at the scene. Printing out images of the riddle and sypher. Writing in his journal everything that transpired during the night. When we met Alfred. Where they get into an argument over Alfred needing Bruce to be Bruce and do things for the company and Bruce having no time for any of that. Telling him he is not his Dad, as he walks away. Catching back up with Alfred after a shower. Who has been working on the sypher. Together they come up with the word drive. With Gordon, they go to the Mayor’s Garage. Finding a thumb drive in one, with the Mayors thumb attached to it. Inside, were pictures of the Mayor, with another woman outside of the Iceberg Lounge. A mafia club run by the Penguin. Batman makes his way over and brawls his way to a conversation. Penguin denies knowing anything about knowing the girl, but the bartender, Selina takes interest in it. Batman noticing her watching and when he recognizes her boots from a pair in the photo. Follows her out of the club and back to her apartment. Finding the girl there. Only he doesn’t go in. Watching Selina get into gear of her own and sneak out. Following her to the Mayor’s where he catches he busting in the safe. Stealing a passport. After a brief scuffle, learns that the Mayor had stolen the women’s passport and she is to traumatized to say what she knows, but he gets her to agree to take her back so he could talk to her. Only, when they get back. Find the apartment is trashed and she is gone. On the TV, the news is reporting the body of Commissioner had been found. Video had gone viral of The Riddler introducing himself, with Commissioner strapped to a rat maze. Adding to the mystery that would only get deeper from here, but where I leave it for now.

**REVIEW**

I adored the story so much. The mystery was laid out exactly right. Pacing and rising tension was perfect and climax that was well told and seeing the aftermath of everything after, was chef’s kiss. How a mistranslation was able to create so much confusion. Misleading you to consider Penguin, Batman and then finally, Falcone.

Riddler’s motivation was well told. Growing up in dilapidated orphanages with promises never kept. Showing how a corrupt Gotham create this villain and even how from his perspective, Thomas Wayne would appear guilty. Since he never got to explain what happened with the reporter and it was his foundation that was being pillaged by the corrupt officials.

Loved how the Batman was used here. Being early into his Crime Fighting, he had tech and detective abilities, but hasn’t quite put it all together. But did have the reputation, of something to be feared. When the Bat signal came out and everything would get tense and people were afraid. How he would rush into fights and tank damage, but would overwhelm his opponents with overall brutality. Putting the fear into not just bad guys but those he is trying to save as well, and all of this brutality and anger is starting to bleed through to when he was Bruce.
As much as I loved the portrayal as Batman, think Robert Pattinson may have shined his brightest as Bruce Wayne. Spending all his time, as Batman. Being around the violence and misery. All the while not seeing the positive impact he set out for, was making him miserable. Making him want to put on the mask and get back to it, and miserable even having to pretend to care about anything related to Bruce. By the end, learning that he was in fact making an impact just not the one he wanted. That the lesson he was preaching was one of vengeance and people gluing to that. That he would have to change and be better and I am really looking forward to seeing where they go from here on that note.

The fight scenes were great and cinematography was gorgeous. The score they had for batman was interesting in a good way. While The Batmobile was incredible.

Had already droned on about Robert Pattinson, he was great at the role. Lets take a moment to shine a light on the rest. Jeffery Wright was the perfect choice for Gordon. Him and Robert had some really good chemistry together. A lot of fun seeing them working together on the screen. Same with Andy Serkis’s Alfred, who I want to see much more of in the sequel. Paul Dano was incredible as Riddler. Bringing out the arrogance in the highly intelligent villain. Who seemed like someone who you’d encounter in the real world. Collin Farrell was perfect on making Penguin an interesting character. John Turturro was a surprise to see as Falcone, and knocked it out of the park, especially with Zoe Kravitz’s Selina Kyle. Who played a good Catwoman. She had the moves, looked great, and left me wanting to see more of her in this world as well.

This is very much a mixed aspect of the movie. While I loved the cinematography. There were a few rough spots, where things were to dark for their own. Example, is toward the end at Falcone’s, when Batman was fighting through the hall. Only light from gun flashes. Which, is great, but the flashes were so rapid, that I was pretty much blind through most of it. This might have just been a my eyes kind of deal or might not be there when I watch at home, but for now. It’s in the mixed category.

But that is all I got for you. This was a thrilling, psychological ride, with a ton of good action and horror themed moments. Actors and actresses did a ton to flesh their characters out and left them with places to grow and move forward from here. Go forth and check it out. Keep the Joker in the asylum and bring me the Court of Owls. Final Grade – S

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As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

AEW Revolution 2022 Predictions

By: Justin Hopkins

AEW PPV are always hard to try and predict, for the best of reasons. You can make an argument on nearly every match on who should walk away with the win. While at the same time. A spicy story waiting the one who doesn’t at the same time. Revolution is staked with blood feuds, match of the year candidates and overall fun matches on paper. Stifled with potential from top to bottom. So, lets pull out the tin foil hats and try and predict the show shall we.

Hook vs QT Marshall

We will start with the softball choice here. Hook is the man. Riding a wave of momentum that isn’t stopping now.

Winner – Hook

Kings of the Black Throne vs Death Triangle and Erick Redbeard

The reason this didn’t go up yesterday. Had a feeling they weren’t done and they gave us this six man. With the return of Erick Redbeard to sub for the injured Fenix and glad to see him. This will be a fun match on the Buy In and while it could go to Death Triangle and Redbeard. House of Black need it much more.

Winner- Kings of the Black Throne

Leyla Hirsch vs Kris Statlander

Well, easy choices gone now. Kris took the first match, which is what kicked off this rivalry and sent Leyla to the dark side. Both of these two are incredible and could be top of the division in no time. Could have Leyla win to lead to a more brutal rubber match. Kris is teasing showing another side of her. With the orphan comment could be teasing a double turn, but Leyla just turned…. More words to try and stall. Can’t even go with my heart cause I love them both… Screw it..

Winner – Leyla Hirsch

Andrade El Idolo, Isiah Kassidy and Matt Hardy vs Sting Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara

Before Rampage. Believed it was going to be a slam dunk. Win for the good guys and set the table for the Hardy Boy reunion. Now I am not to sure though. They could have Matt Hardy wonder off. Doing the erratic thing still. Make it appear it’ll go the way you think. For Darby and Sammy clash from what happened on Rampage. I am going to go for that actually.

Winner- Andrade El Idolo, Isiah Kassidy and Matt Hardy

Eddie Kingston vs Chris Jericho

There is a universe, where Eddie loses this match. Sending him into a bit of a spiral. Having to regroup and think about what he wants. Finding his motivation and coming back and going on a tear to the belt. Getting the emotional moment of winning the Championship. In this world, Eddie is winning this one, and starting the momentum to the Championship now.

Winner- Eddie Kingston

TBS Championship Match – Tay Conti Vs Jade Cargill (Champion)

While Tay could make for a good choice in giving Jade her first loss. It might be too soon. Jade has continued to improve by leaps and bounds and really making this run just what this belt needs. Not quite the time to pull the plug on it.

Winner and still TBS Champion – Jade Cargill

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match – Keith Lee vs Wardlow vs Ricky Starks vs Will Hobbs vs Orange Cassidy vs Christian Cage

Sweet Death how am I suppose to choose. Match is just going to be awesome. Some much destruction. People are going to be launched left and right. Can never sleep on Orange. Hobbs can make a break at any moment. Twenty Twenty Two can be the year of Starks, Christian is a legend, and how can one not bask in the glory of Keith Lee. Keith Lee is a difficult choice to go against, but We got Wardlow. The wave of momentum is really starting to pick up and story of him and MJF is simmering. Match is going to be insane, but at the end of the day, going with….

Winner – Wardlow

AEW Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match – reDRagon vs Young Bucks vs Jurassic Express (Champions)

It is coming due for a heel team to collect the tag team belts. That won’t be tonight thought. the reDRagon Young Buck story doesn’t need the belts. Think they are going to cost themselves the match and the belts stay where they are.

Winner – Jurassic Express

Bryan Danielson vs Jon Moxley

Hey, another match that I have no idea where it can go. Think the American Dragon is going to get the win after a hard fought battle. Setting up not just the team, but the fallout later and Mox finally getting the win he has never had after a long drawn out story.

Winner – Bryan Danielson

AEW Women’s Championship – Thunder Rosa vs Dr. Britt Baker (Champion)

This story can go in so many ways. I genuinely have no idea which way they can go. Going to go the way that sets up a rematch at St. Patrick’s Day Slam the easiest and most interesting.

Winner and new Women’s Champion – Thunder Rosa

CM Punk vs MJF Dog Collar Match

What a fucking feud. The promos and interactions have been nothing short of legendary that will be looked back on in, how to set up feuds, for years to come. It doesn’t feel right to go against him, but an MJF loss would send him spiraling against Wardlow and Punk could move on. Tired of the distractions and wanting his title shot.

Winner – CM Punk

AEW Heavyweight Championship Adam Cole vs Hangman Adam Page

I refuse to make the obvious joke. This match has it’s work cut out for it, to follow everything we have seen this far, but if anyone can do it. Think these two can. Don’t see Hangman’s time come to an end just yet and Cole can take his first loss.

Winner – Hangman Adam Page

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

No Exit Movie Review

**SPOILER WARNING**

So, this one kind of snuck up on me. Despite the fact that streaming services have been putting out some banger movies. I have continued to overlook them. Like an idiot that I am. Fortunately, saw a trailer for this one and marked it on the calendar. What I saw was very enticing. Snowed in group, with one of them being a kidnapper, and one of them is Dennis Haysbert. That is all I needed to see. Now, let’s dive in and talk about it, shall we.

**SYNOPSIS**

The movie kicks off at an Inpatient NA Meeting. Fellow Jade telling a story that Darby is uninterested in. Having heard this story from her already. This is Darby’s 11th day on seventh stint through Rehab and she is having doubts about being there, but is here on court order. The meeting is interrupted by a phone call for Darby. Telling her that her Mother is set to go into surgery for a brain aneurysm and that she should call her Sister, Devon, but they won’t let her call because of facility rules and that she has lied about reasons to call people before. That night she goes to Jade and blackmails her to use her cellphone. Getting ahold of her sister, who will not help her get out. Not having time to deal with her issues at the moment. Telling her to stay in rehab, but Darby breaks out. Stealing Mike’s car and find a baggie of cocaine in the car. Trying to get ahold of Devon, but she isn’t answering. After awhile and the storm getting worse and worse. She pulls aside to check the phone that keeps going off. Finding texts from Devon telling her to not come. Taking a moment to fantasies over taking the drugs she found. When a cop snaps her back to reality. Informing her that the storm has shut down the roads up ahead and she could either go back or stop at the rec center that a few others have gone to. When she gets there, finding an old couple, Ed and Sandi. Lars who is playing with matches, and Ash who is asleep. When Ed says that he had a bar for a moment out by the tree. She goes back outside to try her luck. When she is outside, hears a loud sound and a scream. Finding a child tied up in a van. Promising to come back for her. Darby slowly makes her way back inside, after Ed comes out. Looking around the room. Can’t get a signal to call for help. Up to her to try and figure out whose van it is and how to get the girl to safety and that is where I will leave it for now.

**REVIEW**

I really enjoyed a lot of the aspects this movie had to offer. It wasn’t some action spectacular, but focused on psychological components and human character. Everyone feels like they are grounded in reality. Darby is a flawed person who is doing the best she can to overcome her struggles and fears of losing her Mother. Finding herself in this situation and doing what she is capable of to try and save the girl and that bad people can come in different shades. Spoiler on that aspect in three. Two. One….

Okay, so this movie, both got me and didn’t get me in both senses of the word. I thought at first they were making Lars way to obvious. Playing with the matches and outburst during the card game. So, bit of a surprise when they revealed him first. Ash, not so much. Way to early and Lars was not going to be a lone wolf by any means, and of course his partner would be the first one she talked to. Only to turn it around and have a shocking surprise in that Sandi was involved as well. Seemingly coming from nowhere. Poor Ed, I feel so bad. Not only because I suspected him from the trailer, but was such a good guy. Believe he could have won their money back. I would have played Poker with him. Speaking of which…

I really liked the Idea of the playing BS instead of Poker. Being a game with the same deception reads that poker has. Darby’s addiction issues, allowed her to be apart of the game without having to gamble and focus solely on her mission of trying to figure out whose van it is.

Havana Rose Liu stole the show here. Playing up every part of who Darby is. Seeing the struggles she is having with her addiction at the start. To how much she wants to just go home and be with her Mom. Powerful scenes of whenever she is handling the drugs in the car and bathroom. Seeing on her face a wealth of emotions. Both good and bad, Havana killed it here. Dennis Haysbert was great as per the norm. Dale Dickey was great. A great amount of chemistry between her and Dennis. For such a young kid, Mila Harris did a great job as the kidnapped Jay. Danny Ramirez had a a lot flair and charisma as Ash and David Rysdahl was good as Lars.

While this movie wasn’t loaded with action. The attacks were pretty brutal, especially when the nail gun started getting utilized. Darby getting her arm nailed to the wall and having top remove it with the hammer and Lars getting a nail to the head was brutal…Well done all around.

I don’t have anything negative to say. I know it is a shocker, but this was a really good movie. Psychological thriller that had a great pace. Loved how grounded it felt. Performances from a group of people who brought it all together perfectly. Would gladly suggest giving this one a shot. Final Grade – A

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As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

Genwunner plays Pokemon Legends: Arceus

By: Justin Hopkins

So, this is later then I was expecting. Wanted to have this up on Tuesday, but, and this may be a hint at final thoughts, I couldn’t put it down. So much I wanted to do and trying to do as much as I could and I am nearly at the finish line. No sense in holding off any longer. Reviews are piling up and time to get the train going. I was excited, from the trailer, looked like they were shaking up the gameplay in a big way, and after so long of the same formula. Had no idea what to expect and hype was real. So, after a bit of a disappointing trip the last go around. Time to unretire Mui for another adventure.

Mui’s Journey

Game starts off with us talking to Arceus, in a dark void. Falling through after the conversation and coming to on Prelude Beach. Being waken up by Professor Laventon and three Pokemon, Rowlett, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott. Who scamper off after Laventon talks to Mui. Who has no idea where we are or what is going on. Catching them for him, he takes us back to Jubilife Village. Centuries back in time from our normal stomping grounds. A place that doesn’t know much about Pokemon, fears them and are wary over the new person. After meeting with Captain Cyllene. Letting us have a place to stay for the night, but would have to pass as trial tomorrow to stay or be expelled out of the village and possibly die out in the wild. Overnight, lightning comes out of the rift we fell out of. Rei wakes us up, and takes us to Cyllene’s office. Giving us the challenge to catch three pokemon, Shinx, Starly, and Bidoof. Before we leave, Laventon offers us one of the three and after some thought, Shida the Rowlett became pokemon number one. Each representing how Pokemon are going to react to noticing you in the wild. Either going to ignore, run, or attack. After catching them, we are accepted into the Survey Corp at rank zero and instructed to go see Kamado. Commander of the Galaxy Expedition Team and challenges me to combat, Sumo throwing Mui into a wall. Warning us that not everyone will take kindly to us right away. Rei taught us how to craft and we got to run about the Obsidian Fieldlands for a bit and some requests from civilians and workers. Getting to Rank one and ending the day. When we wake up, have a meeting with Kamado, along with Irdia and Adaman. Leaders of the Pearl and Diamond Clan. Pearl believing in the god of time. The other, god of space. The Lightning from the other night have riled up the lords around the world. Sent to go talk to Klevor’s warden to find out more. Learning that Klevor won’t even let him get close. After a long time thinking. Laventon comes up with the idea to throw his food at him. I go back armed with Balms and start throwing them at his face. After a long sequence of him trying to attack me while I smacked him in the face with his food. Managed to settle him back to his normal state, and we were off to do the same with the next Lord, Lilith. Before we could do that though, have to appease one of the Pearl’s members and track down stolen goods. Leading us to the bandits, The Misfortune sisters, Coin, Charm, and Clover. Who coughs up the goods after we beat them. Returning it to her and calming down an out of control Ursaluna. Finally getting access to Lilligant and calming down their Lord and moved onto the next, a place without a lord. Since Arcanine drown saving him pup. Palina refusing to rush the young Growlithe’s traning. However when the Misfortune Sisters arrived and stole on of the Growlithes. The Growlithe evolves into Arcanine and becomes the Lord, and immediately, goes into Frenzy and another Balming fight later. We move on, with the new Lord in his place. Moving slowly on and doing the same to the fourth, Electrode, and even faster to deal with Avatugg. Due to the unmerciful attacks from Glalies and Abomasnow. Everyone cheering that all the lords are calmed, but that night, the rift acts up again, but Kamado in blaming us. To the point he expels us from the village. Much to the dismay of Iridia and Adaman. Told that we would be welcomed back if we can solve the issues. Resisting the urge to burn down the village as we left. Running into Volo who takes us to Madame Cognita. Telling us about the pokemon at the lakes and the red chain.. and that is where I am going to leave it for the time being.

Review

They took a big gamble, changing up the formula this much. Battles being a minimum, and putting the whole focus on exploration and catching pokemon. Helping to build a pokedex and educate the people in the village so they wouldn’t be as afraid of them. While at the same time, knowing which ones to be worried about, cause oh will some of them mess you up just the same.

That may have been my favorite part of the game though. Can still initiate the battles and do things the old way, but the new aspects are fantastic. Had so much fun trying to stealth around, failing because I am bad, and being chased by angry pokemon. At one point, had a Luxray after me, that became a pack of Luxray. Thought I lost them, but didn’t see I had angered another pokemon and an Alpha Alakazam flew in from out of nowhere. Scaring me off the side of a hill. Loved seeing Ghastly and Haunter rising up out of the ground, warmed my heart and made me laugh as I had to run again. Making the world so much more fun to travel around. See everything they had to offer because of the way the pokemon acted and reacted to your presence was such a delight. Which really went into immersing me into the game.

Another massive plus was that I was genuinely amused by most of the NPC characters that I dealt with throughout my playthrough. Never related more to a character than when Cyllene wouldn’t eat with us, because she wanted to enjoyed her meals better alone. From some fun requests like, investigate the Mr. Mime that was messing with the one guy. Helping a woman somewhat overcome her fear of Starly and continue having to go find the lost worker, Wanda. Loved watching the village grow, especially the shop. and meeting the different members of Diamond and Pearl, even Melli. Not everyone was a hit, but majority of them were fun.

I loved the art style they used in the game. Following Brilliant Diamond this felt like a giant leap forward. Did a really good job at adding emotions to the characters when they are talking and interacting with each other. Liked the biomes and territories that certain pokemon could be tracked down to. Such as Turtwig in a little lake, in the Droning Meadows, for example. The scenery and colors were beautiful and loved looking out across the terrain when I was flying around.

The little thinks such as the link cable so you didn’t have to trade pokemon to get them to evolve. Waiting for so long for stuff like this. Finally get to fill the pokedex without having to bring in another person. They were nearly perfect, but for one part.

Mixed feelings now surrounding request number 22, eerie apparitions in the night. The sole reason why I haven’t completed the Dex at the moment of writing this. I am all up for challenges, and all for running around the world, but it becomes quite different when you are trying to spot tiny purple lights. Some places have one left and I am pulling my hair out trying to find it. It gets real monotonous after a while. They have done these before, but never finished them and am actually trying this time, but wow it gets you down after a while.

Thought they could have done more with the Misfortune Sisters. They were fine, but reveal being they were just rowdy “bandits” was kind of anti-climactic. Now, admittedly, I did it to myself. Saw a couple story threads they could’ve went with. Particularly after we are kicked out of the village. Almost showed have gone further with Kamado being a baddie as well. Particularly knowing where Galaxy would end up becoming.

If you are into Pokemon for competitive side of the games. This game might not be all of that for you, but I am not one of those people. The battles tend to rank pretty low, and this game delivered so much of what I did like. Loved how the game looks and being able to run among/from the wild pokemon. Felt like the world was alive and NPCs were fun to interact with and did enjoy the direction the story went, and the surprise at the end took me off guard and would gladly suggest trying this game out. Final Grade – S

As always, I hope you enjoyed….

Thank You For Reading!!!!

DC Forever Evil Deck Building Game

By: Justin Hopkins

I have a lot of love for Deck Builders. Ever since I started picking up the hobby. Gravitated toward them right away cause of my love of cards in general and lead me to buy my first deck builder, Resident Evil Alliance and had a blast with it. Adored the cards and way the gameplay was. So, much so, that I was quick to pick up a new one, in the form of DC Forever Evil. A game where you play as one of many DC Rogue Gallery to take down the Justice League. About all it took to sell me on it. With us in a brand new year and desire to mix up what I talk about. Couldn’t think of anything more that I wanted to then this, so with that said, let’s dive in shall we.

Gameplay

The game starts up with you picking your oversized Supervillain and passing out the cards to 2 to 4 players. Consisting of 7 punch cards and 3 Invulnerability one. That is your deck. In the middle of the table, with the top five spread out in a line, making up the lime-up. With a vertical stack next to it. Stack of Kick cards on top, weaknesses on the bottom, and stack on Superhero Cards in the center. Should have at least 8, but can add any up to 12, or more in some cases. Shuffle them up and put them facedown, except for The Flash. He always lines up first and face up. From there you are ready to begin. Shuffle your deck of ten, and draw five. Count up how much power in your hand. Total being how much you can spent one the line-up, buy a kick, or if you have enough, take out a superhero. You can spend up to the number of power or less in your hand. Say if you have 9. Can spend up to or less than nine. Once your turn is over, any cards you used, acquired or still in your hand goes into discard pile. Replacing any empty spot in the Line-up that you took, so as to always have at least 5. If you beat a Superhero, that card goes to your discard as well. Keeping the next one in line, until the end of your turn and everyone resolves their First Appearance attack and move on to the next person in line. Play continues till there are no more Superhero cards left or you cannot make a Line-up consisting of five. Collect all of your cards and count the Victory points in the bottom left side of each card. Along with any Victory Point Tokens you have acquired along the way. Highest number wins. In case of a tie, the players who has the most Superhero cards is the winner.

Review

I have had such a blast playing Forever Evil. At this point, my favorite Deck Builders and top three favorite games in general. It can start off a bit slow, as Deck Builders do, but things pick up very quickly, because this game gives you so much to do. Setting up on-going cards, location cards, destruction cards to get rid of negative ones and Vulnerabilities and defensive cards. You still need to collect Power, because once Superheroes start falling it can go quick from there, but these cards early on, will not only go a long way to help in that cause, but also protect your stuff from your friends.

One of my favorite aspects of this game is how much it values being on offense. Not just with going after Superheroes, but messing with other players around the table. Being a general nuisance and screwing up what they have built and have in there hand. Freezing cards in The line-up that you know they need, sending ongoing cards back to their discard to a card that will allow you to commander any ongoing cards they have and use them for yourself for a turn. As trolly as all of this sounds, and it can be, there is legitimate strategies to run with this style. If you don’t have enough power to take a Superhero down, and you are worried they might. Any one of these moves can buy you another round to try and get the cards you need.

Forever Evil almost welcomes expansion packs to be added and I have added more then a few. The likes of Birds of Prey, Arrow and a few others to make a bit of a chaotic deck. Adding new ways to play, dynamics, cards to play as, and go against. A long with a rather tricky Rotation Mechanic. Really making each game feel unique and different from one another because of the way you chose or character you are playing as.

Forever Evil is a fantastic game, with some beautiful cards, and a ton of replay value. It is a game with a lot of different strategies to play around with, and never feels like you are sitting around waiting for what you need to start making progress. Easily lends itself to add expansion packs to flesh out the game more. Definitely makes me want to check out bigger box sets like Teen Titans and Heroes Unite. As far as Forever Evil goes though. Would gladly suggest picking it up yourselves and giving it a shot.

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

Aliens: Bug Hunt Audible Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

So, I was a bit hesitant going into this one. With anthologies, you can get some good stuff, but have to sypher through a slew of bad to get to them. Kind of mixed on the idea of the Colonial Marnie’s taking point. Sure they were fun, but thought it might get bland following them throughout 18 stories. But, I do love me some Xenomorphs and the idea that they would be mixing in some new aliens and strange tales was enough to sell me on giving it a shot. Before we do the dive in routine, let me say one thing. I was really torn on how to do this. Debated on breaking this up into multiple bits, but that would cause me to go more into spoilers then I care to. So, I will break it down as a whole. Things you can expect and go into more detail on a few later down the line at appropriate moments. Sparing the big twists and turns when I can. Okay? Okay, sounds good. Let’s dive in shall we.

Synopsis

As it says on the back of the book, we got 18 stories from across the Alien Universe. Following mostly Colonial Marines, some new, such as Corporal Sykes and London to some names we know, like Hicks and Hudson to name a few. Along with a few others who are in desperate fights against Xenomorphs, other alien creatures and various messes created by the always wonderful Weyland-Yutani. To stories that diverge straight into very strange, very bizarre direction that I respect way to much to give anything away and as short as this is, where I am leaving off for the time being.

Review

Lets get the shoutout and round of applause out of the way. First one going to Jonathon Maberry. Can’t imagine how hard it was to narrow it down to these 18 stories, but to get it in the right order to keep the pace moving along at just the right pace. Then you get the authors, Paul Kupperberg, Dan Abnett, Rachel Caine, Yvonne Navarro, Christopher Golden, Matt Forbeck, Ray Garton, Weston Ochse, David Farland, Larry Correia, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Brian Keene, Heather Graham, Mike Resnick and Marina J. Lostetter, Jonathon Maberry, James A. Moore, Scott Sigler, and Tim Lebbon. Can tell they really care about this universe and put some serious thought into their stories and they weaved some really fun stories. Since we are dealing with an audiobook, we got to give the narrators their roses as well, James Anderson Foster, Eric G. Dove, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Nicol Zanzarella, James Patrick Cronin, Suzanne Elise Freeman, Andrew Eiden. Michael David Axtell, Grover Gardner, Priya Ayyar, Peter Berkrot, Emily Sutton-Smith, Hilary Huber, and R.C. Bray. A audiobook lives and dies on narration and they all did great. Even when they were more monotone then it might have should. Somehow works for the story in question and adds that much more to it.

What really helped out was just how different each story was. Mixing up the plots from rescue missions to scientific research. Worlds that were at peace before chaos broke out. In some cases we got to listen to the carnage breaking loose to being dropped right into the middle of it. From Xenomorphs and different variations that a Xeno’s impregnated, I will never get the words, Blue Moon Centipede out of my head, and just different alien lifeforms in general. Making each story feeling fresh and exciting. But that wasn’t the only way they kept you on your toes. Good endings were not a given and at anytime, heroes could fall and some, there were none of those to be found.

While we got plenty of new and interesting characters and settings. When they did go to the well of characters and places we do know. They handled them with care. Really showing there love of them as a whole. Which is good in some of their cases because they got real bold in some of these. Like in, No Good Deed. Which is in my top three favorites from this set. Along with, Dark Mother, played it real gutsy and both of them worked.

Then we get to the weird ones. Dangerous Prey, Episode 22, and to a point, No Good Deed. No Good Deed not going to far off, just a character, but the others go way off the wall compared to the rest of the stories. Dangerous Prey, did it beautifully. My favorite of the lot. Catching me completely off guard by what is happening and just hanging on to every moment of it. On the flip side of that, was Episode 22. On my first listen to it, when not much a a fan. Have warmed up to it, but still not really for me, but that doesn’t make it bad.

None of these are bad stories. They can take Alien: Bug Hunt and use it as the script for an awesome show on any streaming service. Sure I didn’t like Episode 22 or Dark Mother as much as I did, Zero To Hero or Hugs To Die For, but they are not bad in the slightest. Episode 22 could easily be someone else’s favorite very easily, just not for me, and that is why I will gladly suggest anyone to check this out. There is a ton of fun things to appeal to not just fans of the movies, but those who just like Science Fiction in general. Final Grade – S

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As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

Scream 2022 Movie Review

**SPOILER WARNING**

By: Justin Hopkins

Being excited for Scream was almost a given. They’ve never really had a miss. I even really liked Scream 3 which is often pointed to as their weakest entry. Which is something to be proud of. Seeing how bad some other franchises have gotten. Scream has a lot going for them going in. The best final girl in Sydney, an iconic costume in Ghost face, and the way they weave meta and where the horror scene is at today all building intrigue. There is some worry, since this is the first one since the loss of the great Wes Craven and new team coming in, but after four hits under Scream’s belt. Had no reason to doubt. With that said, lets dive in and see how they did.

Synopsis

The movie kicks us off with, Tara. While Texting her friend Amber gets a call on the landline, from who turn out to be the killer, and another round of questions kicks off. To save Amber’s life. Revolving around the Stab movie Franchise, despite her only knowing Elevated horror. She knocks out the first two, but trips on the third. Tara tries to run for the door. Wanting to save her friend, but opens the door to the killer. Who gets a slice in. Backing her into the house, but is only safe momentarily before she is attacked again, and we cut to title screen. Coming back we meet Sam and Boyfriend Richie. When Sam gets a call. Informing her that her Sister Tara was attacked. She is okay, but in the hospital, and Sam and Richie are off to Woodsboro. While we meet the friend group. Liv, Mindy, Chad, Amber, and Wes. None of which are happy with Wes for calling Sam. After a brief conversation, calling each other out and addressing Liv’s Creepy Stalker. They had of to the hospital. We join up with Sam and Richie, with Sam getting caught up on the history of the town since he doesn’t know and never saw the Stab movies, before we get the happy reunion at the hospital. Friends leave the sister’s alone and we go off to the bar with them. Amber is not happy with Sam being back. She was a troubled teen and left abruptly in the middle of the night. The conversation is cut off by the stalker arriving and getting into an altercation with Chad. Threatening them on his way out, but is taken out by Ghostface in the alley. Back at the hospital, we see Sam waking up. Richie watching Stab movies for research reasons and she says she is going to get some food, but is really going to take anti-psychotics and we see the deceased Billy Loomis appear in the mirror. Talking to her about family secrets. Phone call snapping her out and it is the killer. Who says they know about her secrets and she calls him out and Sam is attacked from behind. Managing to fight them off and get away. Gets interrogated and told to leave town by Hicks. Sam returns to Tara and openly tells her the truth. About why Dad left and why she went off the rails when Sam learned that Billy Loomis was her real Dad. To which, Tara throws her out. For bringing up all of this now of all times. With nowhere else to go, Sam and Richie turns to the past for help and leads them to Dewey and where I will leave this for now.

Review

I love how they put this “Requel” together. The way they brought in the new characters, by having a few of them being related to the older characters who are gone now. Such as Randy’s Niece and Nephew being Minx and Chad. Along with creepy stalker being a relative of Stu. While it is a bit of a stretch for Sam being Billy’s kid. I am willing to go along with it because we got Skeet Ulrich back and it did play well in the climax.

I always love the conversations in these movies where they break down the rules in play for the movie. The class room conversation in 4, to Randy in one through three. Only fitting that it6 fell to his niece here and she knocked it out of the park. Loved the flow of the conversation and her frantic energy bounced off everyone’s questions really well. Creating a really fun scenes in the process. Speaking of fun..

The murders were brutal and I loved it. There is a simplicity with Ghostface that I just adore. Not a lot of crazy traps or elaborate deaths. Just using a knife for majority of the time. Quick attacks to the neck or rapid shots to the body. Only making it look more brutal. Lingering on the blade stuck in ones neck or the quick little jab when they took out the stalker, while Red Right Hand played. Chef’s kisses and round of applause all around.

While, I won’t be talking about who the killers are quite yet. I do want to talk about the motives, cause there motives made me laugh way to hard, in a good way. Having it be two toxic fans of the Stab movies, who were upset over the direction the film series went and were attempting to force it to go back to basics by giving them true story material to work with, that is just excellent and how it feels dealing with a toxic fan. Bravo to those who worked this out.

On to the cast and crew and they did a good job. Jasmin Savoy Brown being my favorite of the bunch. Her and Chad, played by Mason Gooding were the movie knowledge characters of the group, and Mason was good, but Jasmin brought the manic energy of the two and stole the scenes she was in because of her obsession on the topic. Jenna Ortega did a lovely job as Tara. She kept taking a beating throughout and felt really bad for her and Jenna did great portraying that. Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, and Sonia Ammar did a solid job rounding out the rest of the friend group. Although we did get more of Sonia. We didn’t get enough Liv. Going off the scene with Mindy where she was snapping over constantly being accused of being the killer only to be called to boring to be the killer. She was real creepy in that scene and loved it. Wish we got more following it. It was fun to see Heather Matarazzo back. Neve Campbell is still the best finale girl of all time. She is taking none of this. Just opening fire on closed doors. Telling off the killer and it is wonderful. David Arquette had a great send off to his character and Courtney Cox was there. She felt like Gale, but did not have a lot to do. Now, lets talk about Melissa Barrera.

I am still torn on what to think about her performance as Sam. The things she did right, was fantastic. Her just coming out with the secret and telling Tara the truth. The ending when she was taking out the one killer and wiping the blade clean, just like Papa, was one of the best moments in the movie. She felt like a strong but flawed character, but felt like they only scraped the tip of the iceberg here and left a lot on the table. Would like to have seen them play up suspicion around her a bit more and dive more into it. Need to see this one again before I can say how much I like the character or not, but they have set the table perfect to really explore this character more in sequels.

They really failed on the mystery part of this. You can easily piece this together pretty quickly. We will start with Richie, the boyfriend who knows nothing about any of this and is assertive about this. Only character who is downed by a light shove to a door. While every other character is tanking bullets and stab wounds. While Amber is just so confrontational and dirty looks. This was the least effective reveal in the series.

Finale

So final thoughts on Scream 2022. Going into it, Scream hasn’t had a miss yet and that doesn’t change now. Forgot how awesome the Ghostface costume looks on the big screen. Some fun kills and great moment. Mixed the older generation well enough with the younger. Could have given Gale a bit more to do, but didn’t really take me out of it to much. Loved the retelling of scenes with slight alterations to them. The new cast of characters were a lot of fun. Especially Tara and Mindy. While setting up a good future and interesting story to tell with Sam. Future looks bright for this franchise and would suggest checking this out in theaters. Final Grade – B+

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As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

My Top 10 Movies of 2021

By: Justin Hopkins

Another trip back down the road. A calendar years worth of movies to weigh with invisible qualities that, only the one putting their list together can see. What movies made them feel something. Happiness, sadness, suspense and thrills. Fan favorites being taken off from the list cause of little tick. Making space for an unpopular one. Making a list that is uniquely your own. Which is what makes them so much fun. To see why they chose they way they did and pick up some that you may have overlooked or missed, because it was easy to do in 2021. So, with all of that said, let’s dive in shall we.

10. Malignant

Style and creativity helps lock down the tenth spot on my list. Despite the fact I gave it a bit of a mediocre grade. Annabelle Wallis did a really good job as Madison. Which went a long way in paying off a climax that stays with you long after the movie is over.

9. Psych 3: This is Gus

I had to. I love this group so much and every time they put out a movie it is such a delight. James Rodriguez and Dulé Hill never fail to entertain. The fight in the bathroom was over the top in the best possible ways and Timothy Omundson can pull on the heart strings with almost ease. A must if you were a fan of the show and check out the show if you haven’t so you can enjoy this one.

8. Spiral

I know, I am shocked to. Had given up on the Saw movies after 3, and was disappointed in that one. This movie was more then just look at the elaborate traps that the series had seemed to fall into. Presenting us with an intriguing story and mystery around it, and while there were a lot of solid performances, Chris Rock is the one that sealed it for me. He excelled in his performance and should stick to the genre for a while.

7. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

This felt like the sequel that should have come out a long time ago. Cast, setting everything was spot on and future looks bright for them moving on.

6. Kate

I love this movie so much. This was such a fun movie. From the fight sequences, colors, music. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was spectacular, by making you care about a character that you know is doomed.. I actually thought it would be higher on the list, but it’s been that kind of year.

5. Cruella

They made fashion war entertaining. Took a character as vile as Cruella and made her a sympathetic hero. Not a small feat, but they managed to pull it off. Of course, having Emma Stone as Cruella, makes it so much easier for them.

4. Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City

The fanboy in me had an absolute blast with this. Loved the changes they made to keep those who know the story off kilter and had they not made Leon a joke. This could have been number 1.

3. The Suicide Squad

Hey look, a dark, mature Comic Book Movie that is actually fun to watch. Margot is still excels as Harley. Idris Elba and Daniela Malchior were amazing additions and can’t believe it took this long to get villain John Cena. Even Joel Kinnaman made us care about the death of Rick Flag and he was awful in the first go around.

2. Spider-Man No Way Home

What can I say that hasn’t been beaten to death the last few weeks. It has everything. Nostalgia, emotional thrill ride, excellent moments and scenes. They took you on a ride throughout and ended on a bittersweet moment. An excellent movie that nearly knocked off the number one movie.. or well movies.

1.Fear Street Trilogy

Is it a cheat putting all three of them together; maybe, but the three work so well together that I can’t ignore them. Had me on the edge of my seat and emotions swinging wildly. Characters that I couldn’t stand and swung wildly the other way and was pulling for them to make it. Cliffhangers that had escalated everything perfectly, and a reveal that was a hundred percent the opposite of what I thought I was expecting. Had me hooked and engaged and they even had great and gruesome kills. 1994, 1978, and 1666 came together and fit together seamlessly and made for a stunning story, and claims the number one spot on my list.

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!

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