Game Reviews: Lego Ninjago Movie (PS4)

IMG_2784.JPGI am not exactly a connoisseur of the Lego video game franchise. I’ve dabbled in mostly Star Wars and enjoyed some of it, but never quite was the one that needed to collect every achievement or beat any of the games for that matter. They mostly collect dust in my gaming cabinet of all the different systems I have.

I went to the ol’ Redbox at the grocery store, and rented Roman J. Israel, Esq and as I went to check out, it offered a free game rental.

“Sweet,” I said.

I touched the kiosk touchscreen and viewed the options. There were 4.

“What the hell,” I said.

One was PES 2017. I already play Fifa, and as we all know, once you go Fifa you don’t go to PES. This is like a cardinal sin of gaming.

The other was Assassins Creed: Origins. I am fairly interested in this title, however, I didn’t envision me having enough time to really get into the story, especially since I already was renting a movie.

Then there was a game, that appeared to almost be a ripoff of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The last was Lego Ninjago Movie. I remember my son wanting to play this for our Nintendo Switch, so I said, “maybe he can test it out.”

I came home and told my 6 year old the treasure I got. He was excited as can be until we popped in the game and had to go through Master Wu’s dojo game tutorial. It was essential for the game, maybe, but a bit long. I was hoping to just leave after the game began and let him on his campaign, but something happened.

Garmadon attacked the beach and all of a sudden it was an aerial attack with the green dragon to defend the city. Wow. This looked actually pretty fun. The graphics were pretty good and it felt almost like an arcade game from the 90s. I’m using actual pictures from our gameplay.

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I stayed at my sons side. He began his quest and I learned how to play and navigate the more difficult challenges. We beat the first couple levels taking turns, then dumb me finally noticed the icon in the top right of the screen.

This game was 2 players!

With a split screen, we played as Vader intended for Luke … at his side, father and son, ruling Ninjago Island together. We battled countless obstacles. Found lots of gold bricks. Fell down into countless waters. But somehow, someway, always found a way to the end of the stage. The graphics are rather good and the obstacles are not too repetitive. Some of the bosses take a little time to beat, but that should be expected. The developer really did a tremendous job making it suited for kids (and parents) with very little gaming skill. They want it to be fun, and a little challenging.

I woke up today, and my Ninjago warrior woke us up. Not the 6 year old.

My 3 year old.

“Ninjago!” he said, in his 3 year old voice.

“What?” I said, rolling over in bed.

Minutes later, my 3 year old runs back into my bedroom with something in his tiny hands. It’s the Redbox cd case with the game inside (I did eventually watch Roman J. Esquire).

“Ninjago!” he said again.

Wow. What a creative Lego game developer bunch. My 3 year old watched with Ninjago envy. He wanted to be like his big brother. We popped in the game again, and all of a sudden, looking at the clock, he has played another 8 hours straight.

Maybe my parenting sucks.

Maybe I like having to get him past the more difficult puzzles. Gamer Dads look invincible when they can beat anything in Ninjago.

But now, my son is halfway through. We have 3 hours to return the game, or I face the the stiff $3 late additional day fee.

Damn you Redbox … Damn you and your marketing tricks!

Movie Reviews: London Has Fallen

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London Has Fallen directed by Babak Najafi

Just in case moviegoers were confused whether or not London Has Fallen was a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, the marketing folks made sure to clarify that. With White House Down, Air Force One, the last season of 24, and Vantage Point all telling similar stories, the movie populace could have easily confused this for one of those Redbox Ripoff movies. You know, the low budget films shot for under a million bucks in an attempt to bait and confuse people.

To me, I think I might have been more entertained with the Redbox Ripoff flick.

I mean, how many times can a President be put under siege with the only guy to save him is his best friend and secret service agent. What are the odds? And let’s be honest, what is the point of it all when there is a line of succession? (Ironically enough the plot of the latest Jack Bauer Keifer Sutherland TV show) Heads of State are important people, but in Democracies, there is really little point.

I know, the classic “Revenge at all costs” plot makes it clear that logic isn’t the point of motive.

If you want to watch this film, go ahead. Turn off your brain. You might as well play some Call of Duty in my opinion because at least that has some inventive storytelling.

The movie does have some pretty kick ass special effects, mostly in the attack sequence. But with that said, some of the effects were downright CGI-ish. Morgan Freeman was pretty good playing himself. Gerard Butler picks up another paycheck. I assume he has pretty much given up trying to be a real actor. Aaron Eckhart plays the typecast role that was predominant of the 80s and 90s.

I did beat Call of Duty Advanced Warfare on the same night I watched this. Kevin Spacey made for a better villain.

Movie Rating: 2/10 London Bridges

Movie Reviews: Hail, Caeser

hail-cesar.jpgHail, Caeser directed by the Coen Brothers

There are good Coen Brothers movies and annoying Coen Brother movies. In a rare feat, some manage to step toes in both categories.

Hail, Caeser has it’s ass squarely in the annoying category.

The previews pretty much sum up the plot. George Clooney is a star actor who is abducted in a convolutedly boring plot that is more a setup for visuals rather than entertainment, humor, or intrigue. In many ways, it reminded me of Burn After Reading and a little of Barton Fink (without the cerebral ending).

Like with many Coen Brother films today, critics and reviewers are too afraid to give their true opinion. Even if utterly confused and bored at spending an entire movie trying to read between hidden meaning and allegorical double takes, they give it a pass.

There a bunch of dancing from Channing Tatum (huge stretch).

A bunch of confused looks from George Clooney (huge stretch).

Francis McDormand speaks fast and is neurotic (huge stretch).

Scarlett Johansson plays it sultry with an accent (huge stretch).

Jonah Hill plays it boring and straight (Huuuuuge stretch).

And Josh Brolin essentially plays the same character that he did in Inherent Vice. (Big Whoop).

The big mystery was seeing how the new Han Solo acted (why oh why would they make a damn original prequel?????) He was ok.

I went into the film with little hopes, and left thankful they haven’t gone back to make a sequel to Fargo, The Big Lebowski, or Raising Arizona, and for that, Hail the Coen Brothers.

Movie Rating: 4 out of 10 Russian Submarines

Movie Reviews: A Hologram for the King

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A Hologram for the King directed by Tom Tykwer

What do you get with Tom Hanks wants to go back to the well and recapture lost cinematic glory?

He finds a “fish out of water script” and uses his magic to get it greenlit.

Think about it.

Splash was literally a fish out of water story.

Joe vs the Volcano had him facing … a volcano.

He played a kid who grew overnight in Big and headed for NYC.

In Castaway, he talked to a volleyball on a deserted island.

In Larry Crowne, he was an downsized worker going back to college.

In The Terminal, he was a foreigner stuck in an airport for the entire damn movie.

You see, Tom Hanks believes in this trope. His career is built upon it. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see him in the trailer for this film. An American businessman in Saudi Arabia? An eccentric taxi driver? Unknown foreign customs?

I wasn’t exactly there in the theater with a bucket full of popcorn, but I did catch this last weekend at the ol’ Redbox at the grocery store. For $1.50 I was able to see Tom Hanks in his full fish-out-of-water glory and he performed it exactly how I imagined it.

It was unremarkably boring.

If you don’t understand what that means, watch The Terminal, except on mute, and you’ll fully realize this terminology. The movie had a couple entertaining moments, but the message of business guilt and forbidden romance seemed a bit mixed to me.

Overall Rating: 4/10 underwater encounters