Aquaman Review

“Aquaman” takes its source material, embraces its comic book roots and turns it into something interesting.

When it comes to heroes, it is easy to make Aquaman a punchline. The trident-wielding King of Atlantis can talk to fish and is often looked as tame compared to more exciting heroes like Batman or Spider-Man.

But “Aquaman” takes its source material, embraces its comic book roots and turns it into something interesting. It is an ambitious take from rising director James Wan (“Saw” and “The Conjuring”). Wan’s horror roots make him an interesting choice for a superhero blockbuster, but the pairing works beautifully.

The world that Wan creates for Aquaman is lovely. He doesn’t try to make the source material dour or serious, but rather embraces the camp to make the world interesting. The underwater world has a unique look and is filled with captivating creatures. There is an octopus that can play the drums, giants crustaceans, ancient deep monsters, and horrific fish men that eat people alive.

The people of the sea use giant seahorses as mounts and ride great white sharks into battle while shooting water-powered laser rifles off their backs. It is a shame that the wonderful world of Aquaman isn’t used to tell a more interesting story, but rather another boilerplate hero tale.

The plot follows Aquaman, Jason Momoa (“Game of Thrones”), on his journey to become the King of Atlantis. Aquaman is a half-breed, with his mother being a deserted Queen of Atlantis and his father being a lighthouse keeper. He is an outcast from his people, being looked at as a bastard son of Atlantis. To save the world, Aquaman must go on a quest to take his place as the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis.

If that sounds familiar, it is because this is a story you have seen before. It is a bit of “Lord of the Rings,” with splashes of “Black Panther,” but without the finesse of either. However unlike “Black Panther,” there is no compelling social message or interesting villains.

Speaking of villains, “Aquaman” introduces two antagonists, Orm and Black Manta. Orm, Patrick Wilson (“Insidious”), is Aquaman’s half-brother and current king of Atlantis who wants to rule the seas as the Oceanmaster. It is a basic character, but Wilson hams up his performance, almost to the point where it is comical, to make it interesting. Black Manta, newcomer Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“The Get Down”), is more of a disappointment.

The classic Aquaman villain’s costume design is fantastic while being very comic-accurate, but the character was unnecessary. His origin is nonsensical and he ends up mostly being just a visual, but he does make for some strong action setpieces.

The screenplay does these villains no favors. The script is one of the film’s biggest weaknesses. It is painfully dumb at times, trying to do way too much. “Aquaman”  is trying to be an action movie, adventure film, romantic comedy and horror all rolled into one, with each genre working to varying degrees of success.

The scenes where Wan embraces his horror roots are terrific. It embraces the strangeness of the deep ocean and makes for some of the most memorable moments in the film. But romantic scenes between Aquaman and his love interest, Mera, Amber Heard (“The Danish Girl”), are lackluster. It also doesn’t help that Momoa and Heard don’t seem to have much chemistry with each other.

Another notable misstep in the film was the score. The music for the action was as generic as it gets. It shoehorns in horrendous licensed music like Pitbull’s “Ocean to Ocean,” a cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Then most strangely during scenes with Aquaman and Mera, there is sometimes plucky, upbeat music that is trying to trick you into buying their relationship.

However, many of these issues become afterthoughts due to stellar effects. There is a massive amount of detail poured every inch of this world and it is a joy to watch. Major respect goes out to the artists and animators for their work because they really bring to life the movie with their phenomenal work.

“Aquaman” is very reminiscent of James Cameron’s 2009 landmark hit “Avatar.” It has flaws and is dragged down by some unoriginality, but it features strong, detailed effects work that creates a striking, memorable world that makes “Aquaman” a worthwhile watch.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: 13 Suits That Would Be Awesome in a Sequel

Insomniac has done a tremendous job with Marvel’s Spider-Man. The landmark game is not only a joy to play, but has a ton of great fan service for Spidey fans. One of the best ways the game does this is with Spider-Man’s suits.

Insomniac has done a tremendous job with Marvel’s Spider-Man. The landmark game is not only a joy to play, but has a ton of great fan service for Spidey fans. One of the best ways the game does this is with Spider-Man’s suits. Spider-Man by far has the best gallery of suits of any superhero and Insomniac has put a lot of work into capturing them in the game.

With the release of the last downloadable content for the game, Silver Lining, the suit total now sits at 38. That is the most in a Spider-Man game and includes much-requested ones like the Sam Raimi suit. However, there are still many suits that would be great to see in a sequel:

Black Suit

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Let’s get this one out of the way. This is the most wanted suit that didn’t end up in the game and it was for good reason. In an interview with Kinda Funny Games, Creative Director Bryan Intihar addressed why the suit didn’t make an appearance.

“I think that something like that suit deserves its day in the spotlight, and I think just making it an unlockable suit wouldn’t do it justice,” Intihar said. “It’s one of the best stories for Spider-Man, and I think it’s a complex story, that story needs to be told and needs to be told in the way that Insomniac would tell it.”

Besides that, this suit speaks for itself. It is about as iconic as it gets, representing Peter’s first encounter with the alien symbiote that would go on to form Venom. It is likely to make an appearance in the next game and it will be exciting to see Insomniac’s take on this essential story.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

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While the other movie suits got some love in Marvel’s Spider-Man, the best live action suit didn’t make an appearance. Despite how you feel about 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, you cannot deny the beauty of this look. It is classic Spider-Man with a great webbing pattern and gorgeous white eyes. Sadly this is one we are not likely to see due to various issues that include licensing and promotional conflicts, but it sure would look lovely.

Assassin Spider-Man

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Assassin Spider-Man is a Spider-Man from another dimension and you are going to hear that phrase a few times in this article. Trained by Wolverine, this version of Peter has no qualms killing, working as an international assassin for hire. Basically, if Deadpool was Spider-Man, this would be his suit.

Cosmic Spider-Man

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This suit would be beautiful if done right in the game. Across all dimensions, this is the most powerful Spider-Man of all. This version of Pete possesses the Enigma Force, a powerful gift that has embedded multiple characters throughout dimensions in the Marvel universe. It grants Peter world-altering abilities such as flying, telekinesis, and a much-enhanced spider-sense.

In the event Spider-Verse, the dimension inhabited by Cosmic Spider-Man, Earth-13, acts as a safe haven for Spiders across the dimensions. He is the only Spider-Man that the Inheritors, vampires who travel dimensions hunting and devouring spider-people, truly fear.  That’s why Cosmic Spider-Man is a badass (even though he does get eaten by Solus).

Future Foundation Spider-Man

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This suit was given to Peter after he joined the Fantastic Four, renamed the Future Foundation, after the death of Johnny Storm. This black and white suit allows Peter to switch from Spider-Man suits to normal clothes on the fly thanks to the use of unstable molecules. It can switch to stealth mode in an instant, which sports an inverted color scheme. It is also impossible to get dirty, which is great for someone like Peter.

The Bombastic Bag-Man

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Talking about the Fantastic Four, here is a different time where Spidey found himself wearing a suit designed by Reed Richards. After Richards separated the alien symbiote from Peter, it completely destroyed his original suit. Peter had to use a classic Fantastic Four suit with a brown paper bag on his head to keep his identity secure. It also had a “kick me” note on the back, placed by Johnny Storm.

The Hornet

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This suit, designed by Mary Jane, was worn by Peter during Identity Crisis, when Spide-Man was on trial for murder. The suit also features a wing harness which was designed by Hobie Brown, also known as the Prowler. Hobie was unable to use the wings because they were too heavy, but Spider-Man was able to handle the weight due to his super strength. During this time, Peter also had three other aliases including Ricochet, Dusk and Prodigy.

Spider-Man 1602

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This version of Spidey is from the mind of legendary comic writer Neil Gaiman. In the Marvel 1602 universe, Peter Parquagh lives in London and is the apprentice of Sir Nicholas Fury. He goes by the alias of  “The Spider,” and fights crime after being bitten by an energy exposed spider. He was killed by Morlun during Spider-Verse, but this look is still very unique and would be nice to see in a game.

Sensational Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)

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Both Scarlet Spider suits are featured in Marvel’s Spider-Man, but Ben Reilly’s suit from his time as Spider-Man deserves some love as well. Ben Reilly, one of the many clones of Peter Parker, took up the mantle of Spider-Man during the infamous Clone Saga. Despite the polarizing nature of that story, the Sensational Spider-Man suit is really well designed. It features an awesome spider logo on the front with long arching legs and shiny metal wristlets.

House of M Spider-Man

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House of M is a weird, massive Marvel event, but at least it gave us this neat little suit.  In House of M, Scarlet Witch creates a pocket universe in which Pete has a perfect life. He is loved by everyone, married to Gwen Stacey and has a son with her.  Nevertheless, it isn’t the most drastic redesign for Spider-Man, but it is still great.

Aracnido Jr.

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Another one introduced in Spider-Verse.  The son of a wrestler, Aracnido Jr. became the guardian of Mexico City after gaining spider powers and witnessing the death of his father. His suit is inspired by luchador traditions and has stunning hues of blue and red. The original art style for him, drawn by Enrique Puig, is quite striking and could look fantastic in a game.

Space Suit Spider-Man

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This is a fun one Insomniac could throw in.  During Spider-Man: Worldwide, Spider-Man goes into space with Nick Fury in order to hack S.H.I.E.L.D. satellites to track down the villain Zodiac. Spider-Man eventually free falls to Paris, surviving the fall due to a web ball he creates. So yes, Spider-Man can survive a free fall from space.

Superior Spider-Man MK. 2

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This suit, designed by Otto Octavius while he was Spider-Man, is gorgeous yet lethal. The black and red outfit features carbonadium armor plating, retractable talons, enhanced lenses, and four mechanical spider arms for combat.

This suit is my personal favorite of all time. It is from one of Spider-Man strongest stories and represents Spider-Man’s relationship with one of his most iconic villains. It would be incredible to see in future games. The first edition of this suit is also wonderful, although more simple, and would be great to see used by Insomniac as well.

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What suits do you want to see?

Any suits that you really love that I missed? What suit do you use in Marvel’s Spider-Man? Anybody excited for the new Superior Spider-Man ongoing comic? Let me know below.

 

 

 

2018-19 NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 3

Last week was an utter disaster.  I had my worst week ever while making picks for the first time this year.  So I got to dig myself out of this hole, starting with this week’s picks:

Last week was an utter disaster.  I had my worst week ever while making picks for the first time this year.  So I got to dig myself out of this hole, starting with this week’s picks:

Continue reading “2018-19 NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 3”

Baker Mayfield Leads Browns to 21-17 Comeback Victory Against the Jets

Baker Mayfield, number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, made his regular season  debut Thursday night as the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 21-17 at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland. It was the Browns’ first win since December 24, 2016, and improved their record on the season to 1-1-1.

Starter Tyrod Taylor exited the game in the second quarter with a reported head injury. Mayfield entered the game with the Browns trailing 14-0 and a little over two minutes left to play in the half. On his first play from scrimmage Mayfield found receiver Jarvis Landry for a 14-yard gain. Landry lead the Browns in receiving on the night with eight receptions and 103 yards. The drive would end with Cleveland’s first points of the night, a field goal to make it 14-3.

The Browns offense, which was anemic in the first half, was given a spark by Mayfield. In the second half, he led three scoring drives to give the Browns the lead. Mayfield even caught a two-point conversion attempt on a Philly Special-like play to even the game at 14. Both of the Browns’ touchdown drives ended with Carlos Hyde rushing touchdowns, his third and fourth of the season respectively.  Mayfield ended the night with 201 yards on 17/23 passing.

Mayfield’s rookie counterpart on the Jets, Sam Darnold, was not as brilliant. After two touchdowns by former Brown Isaiah Crowell in the first half, the Jets offense stalled. In the second half, the Jets turned the ball over three times allowing the Browns to stage a comeback. Darnold finished the night with 169 passing yards, two interceptions and a passer rating of 38.3.  Both of his interceptions came with under two minutes to play, on drives where the Jets had an opportunity to take to lead.  The Jets have fallen to 1-2 on the young season.

Next week the Browns will fly out to Oakland to take on the Raiders, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see #6 under center for the Browns in that match-up.

 

2018-19 NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 2

Hey, I’m back. After my stellar record last year of 20-20-3 last year, I know people are frothing at the mouth to hear what I have to say. I missed week one, and missed A.J. Green’s touchdown party on Thursday night, but let’s get into the picks against the spread for week two:

Hey, I’m back. After my stellar record last year of 20-20-3 last year, I know people are frothing at the mouth to hear what I have to say. I missed week one, and missed A.J. Green’s touchdown party on Thursday night, but let’s get into the picks against the spread for week two:

Continue reading “2018-19 NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 2”

Dark Souls Remastered Delayed on Nintendo Switch

Bandai Namco announced Tuesday, April 17th that the highly-anticipated “Dark Souls Remastered” will be delayed on Nintendo Switch.

Bandai Namco announced Tuesday, April 17th that the highly-anticipated “Dark Souls Remastered” will be delayed on Nintendo Switch.

The game, originally intended to be released on May 25, now has the ambiguous release window of  Summer 2018.  According to Dark Souls’ Twitter the PC, Xbox One and PS4 versions of the remaster are still slated to release on May 25.

Also, the announced technical test for “Dark Souls Remastered” on Nintendo Switch has also been delayed to be closer to the release date.  With this delay, the release of the upcoming Solaire of Astora amiibo will also be pushed back to accompany the release of the Nintendo Switch version.

Dark Souls Remastered, which was announced during a Nintendo Direct in January, is a graphically enhanced version of the 2011 classic.  It features all downloadable content, enhanced textures, better performance, stronger online and 4k resolution on capable platforms.  It will retail on all platforms for $40.

This is a strange delay since the intended release date is only about a month away at this point.   The Nintendo Switch edition of this game is the most anticipated version of “Dark Souls Remastered.”  Switch owners were begging to take the punishment of Dark Souls on the go, and the fact that Bandai Namco can’t deliver the game on time as intended is a disappointment.

 

 

8 Developers Who Need to Make A VR Game

So many awesome developers have made great VR games so far, ranging from small developers, like Owlchemy Labs and Polyarc Games, to huge studios like Bethesda Game Studios and Capcom.  So, here are some game developers I think could make great VR experiences:

Respawn Entertainment

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There are a ton of VR shooters out there, but one studio I really want to make a VR shooter is Respawn Entertainment.

Respawn was founded in 2010 by members of the team that created iconic shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Their first release, Titanfall, was a major hit and has since spawned a sequel.

They could jump into VR with a new installment in the Titanfall series, which would be a dream for me, or do something brand new.

No matter what I expect the game will have some of the best shooting mechanics we have seen so far in VR and hopefully some great player mobility.

Luckily for us, they are currently working on a VR project for the Oculus Rift.

Arkane Studios

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I want Arkane to blow us away with a stellar stealth VR experience.

Known for their work on the Dishonored series and for 2017’s Prey, Arkane has offered some really great experiences over the last decade.

Stealth seems to be hard to nail in VR, but in Arkane’s hands, I bet they could whip up something special.

Dishonored had great stealth systems that presented mobility in a unique steampunk setting.  A world like that translated into virtual reality with strong stealth could truly immerse you.

The good news is Bethesda has already proven to be a believer in VR and hopefully will continue their already fantastic support.

Naughty Dog

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Naughty Dog is the easy choice to make a VR game.

Over the past decade, Naughty Dog has risen to be one of the premier developers in the industry after releasing the Uncharted series and The Last of Us.

I don’t know what they would do in VR, but why should I believe it wouldn’t be amazing?

They have been one of the most consistent developers in recent years and a VR game from them could be interesting.

I would really hope they would stray from their roots and make something completely new for the studio.

While something like Uncharted VR would be cool, I would prefer a brand new IP. A genre they have never approached before, such as Sci-Fi, could be a breathtaking experience.

PopCap

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This is the wildcard on the list. They are a pretty large developer, owned by EA, that has made a wide variety of games throughout their existence. They have made games like Bejeweled, Zuma, Feeding Frenzy, Peggle and more recently Plants vs. Zombies.

I could see their VR venture being from any number of these franchises they have developed. I think you could make a pretty cool Peggle game in VR. Feeding Frenzy in virtual reality could be kind of wired. But, Plants vs. Zombies seems to be the most likely candidate.

PopCap has made a strange jump with Plants vs. Zombies before by making it into a third person shooter with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. They could do something weird like that again or maybe return to the series’ roots.

Besides that, they could present something completely new.  In the end, however, I trust PopCap to make a really fun arcade-like experience for VR if they get the opportunity.

Telltale Games

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Telltale is in a strange spot right now. I feel like they are just stuck in this formula right now, and it has me really uninterested.

They just keep pumping out these games, mostly licensed, that all seem to follow the same threads. Plus they still struggle with their engine and optimizing their games properly.

I think VR would present a great opportunity for them. It would give them more area to explore new ideas and get out of this trap they have fallen into.

It might really allow them to get back to their and focus on what they do best: storytelling.  They were one of the first to present interactive storytelling to people and VR is the next advancement of that. I think they could come up with some really cool, ground-breaking ideas and tells a great narrative while doing so. Let’s just hope that it happens and runs at more than 10 frames a second.

Team Ico

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After playing The Last Guardian VR Demo I am completely sold on Team Ico making a full VR game.  To be honest I am not a huge fan of their work.  I recently played Shadow of the Colossus for the first time with the recent remake and I didn’t see why it was so beloved.

Regardless I think they could make a really heartfelt and unique experience for VR.  It was clear from playing the Last Guardian VR Demo that they understand how scale works.  Seeing Tricko, the bird dog creature from The Last Guardian, up close and personal was awe-inspiring.  I can only imagine if they did something similar with a game like Shadow of the Colossus.

The only issue is that the game would probably take a decade to come out.

Playground Games

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Playground Games has made some of my favorite driving games recently and I would love for them to dive into VR.

The Forza Horizon trilogy has been some of the most fun I have had in a racing game in a long time.  It is so hard for me to get into racing games today without them feeling like a complete waste of time.  But Forza Horizon, much like Burnout: Paradise, combined smooth driving with a huge open world filled with gorgeous landscapes.

Being able to drive in the outback with the dust kicking up into your face while gripping the wheel just sounds incredible, and hopefully, we will be able to experience it soon.

Blizzard

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I think Blizzard will eventually make a VR game, the only question pertains to when.  With Blizzard, you never know what to expect, but no matter what it will be quality.

Whether it will be a game set in one of their storied franchises or a brand new IP the potential is limitless.  They have revolutionized genres time and time again with games such as Diablo, World of Warcraft, Starcraft and most recently Overwatch.

Blizzard always looks at industry trends and reads them perfectly to give the people what they want, and I can’t wait till that happens with virtual reality.

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What Developer do you want to make a VR game?

What devs did I miss that you guys would think to make an awesome VR experience? Let me know in the comments below.