Movies

The Evil Morty Misnomer


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Heralded by the haunting melodies of “For the Damaged Coda” and surrounded by the vacuum bloated corpses of the Citadel of Ricks’ undesirables, lies proof of the return of arguably the most interesting character in the Rick and Morty canon: Evil Morty.

 

 

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This is a character audiences have known nearly nothing about save for the lengths he would go to get revenge on Rick C137. However, this isn’t an article about the fan speculation surrounding this character and his origins. Rather, it’s a theory about the fans and the way the use of language impacts fan perception.

 

The human mind is wired to operate in binaries, so it’s no surprise that language developed that way as well. In Saussurean structuralism, a system of linguistic study that was popularized by early 20th century linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, it is binary opposition that imparts meaning on the individual words.  

 

 

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Strong versus weak. Smart versus dumb. Good versus evil. Calling Eyepatch Morty “Evil Morty” implies that there is a good counterpart to oppose him. This is a major disservice to the intentionally morally nihilistic world that
Rick and Morty has developed, especially if one comes to the conclusion that our Rick is going to be the good that opposes the so-called Evil Morty.

Throughout Rick and Morty, it has become abundantly clear that there is no “greater good” or “higher purpose.” Existence is a lot like taking Jerry on an adventure—pointless and cruel.

 

 

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The only laws are the natural scientific laws, and for Rick, those are more or less just...  guidelines. This has been pointed out time and time again within the show, and it’s in this universe that values intellect, motivation, and self interest above all else that Rick and EyePatch Morty thrive. Eyepatch Morty’s grand machinations are currently unknown, but the reason he is so dangerous is because his methods might differ from Rick’s, he is achieving his goals much in the same way Rick would; by doing whatever it takes.

 

 

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Rick is loud, boisterous, and narcissistic, burping his way through any scenario effortlessly, with time to spare to belittle any and all parties involved. It’s these traits that make him an entertaining character to watch, especially because his motivations are typically very clear (which may or may not be because he is shouting them at the top of his lungs and appending expletives to them).

 

 

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Enter Eyepatch Morty: a character that has proven to be resourceful, cunning, and remorseless in the same vein as Rick. He’s attempting to beat the universe’s smartest egomaniac, which in just about any other narrative would paint Eyepatch Morty as a hero. He is ostensibly an underdog that is exercising two major strengths that Rick does not possess. He is more adept at manipulating people, and he will undoubtedly be consistently underestimated as a Morty.

 

 

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Rick uses every advantage he has to accomplish his goals, and any antagonist going up against Rick would be expected to do the same, even if their methods are more gruesome than entertaining.

 

While what’s seen of Eyepatch Morty can be considered pretty reprehensible, the same can be said of how Rick’s actions are portrayed week after week. With his supreme intellect and lack of personal ethics he can do whatever he wants without any serious obstacles or repercussions, regardless of who he hurts along the way. Eyepatch Morty has the same liberties. In fact, for the most part Rick is rewarded for his lack of foibles and his willingness to cross nearly any line due to the lack of any sort of karmic balance. It’s a safe bet that when Eyepatch Morty reveals what he has spent so long planning it will be the most diabolical and malicious act thus far portrayed within the show. Rick is likely to attempt to thwart it, but the conflict won’t be one of good and evil—it will be a conflict of two egos competing in self interest. Eyepatch Morty is likely Rick’s equal, but that by no means makes him evil, because in the universe of Rick and Morty there is no such thing as objective evil, outside of a little shop run by the Devil of course.

 

 

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So don't call him "Evil Morty" call him "Eyepatch Morty." If Rick and Morty is going to be in a universe where good and evil exist, well, this is surely a story about the bad guys.

 

 

 

juiceslingerphoto    Josh Jones is flexing his literary theory muscles and is excited to hear your thoughts on this as well. You can get in contact with him on Twitter @The_Juice_Jones.

Posted by Lucas Eubank in Movies

VALERIAN: It doesn’t work! Why!?

Valerian, the new film from French filmmaker Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, The Professional), was released two weeks ago, going up against Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

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After the financial (not necessarily critical) success of Lucy and the continual success of his company, EuropaCorp, Besson finally had the clout to make his dream project. Valerian is an adaptation of the Valerian and Laureline comics series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. Besson has reportedly wanted to make this film for over 20 years, but he instead made The Fifth Element—a pastiche to the Valerian books and the works of Jean “Moebius” Giraud.

So now that it’s out, did the dream become a reality? Has Luc Besson given us another masterpiece on the same level as The Professional and The Fifth Element?

Sadly, no.

I did not like Valerian, but it’s certainly not a completely flawed movie. in fact, part of the frustration I have with this film are the things that do work quite wonderfully. The practical effects are really great. There is some suit and puppet work that I could easily see influencing a generation of people who want to get into special effects. There are big interesting sci-fi ideas at play (Big Market, the dimensional portal creating a planet, the City of Alpha) that make the world feel large and established. Besson knows how to make things look fantastic in a frame, and this was no doubt a beautiful film. You could take stills from this movie and hang them on your wall, and there are sections of Alexandre Desplat’s score that I really loved. This was also not your typical blockbuster film about destroying everything but rather a film about connection. These were all great, interesting elements.

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But these elements don’t stop the film from being a real mess. It’s like walking into a child’s bedroom to find they stapled all their belongings to the ceiling. It’s super weird, and you might even tell people they have to check it out, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a mess. So what are the major issues holding back Valerian? Why does The Fifth Element work but this stumbles?

It’s all the surface stuff. There is a lot of great stuff at the core (see all the stuff I previously mentioned). But the leads are truly bad, and these are the people you’re supposed to go on this journey with. Dane DeHaan gives a performance that could kill his career if he wasn’t already an established indie actor. Between this and his turn as Harry Osbourne, it’s become apparent that DeHaan isn’t a bad actor (I loved him in The Place Beyond the Pines) but an actor that needs a strong director to guide him, and Besson has never been known as an actor’s director. DeHaan feels like he’s giving a performance akin to a Keanu Reeves impression—not like the actual Keanu Reeves but more of an impression of the person in your first comedy class that is doing their Keanu Reeves. It’s brutal. And he’s the main  character of the film. Would this film have worked better if you did in fact have that kind of Kurt Russell/Harrison Ford/Bruce Willis “seen-it-all-unimpressed” actor in the role? I have no doubt. Valerian is a character we’re supposed to believe is the best and has a world-weary cynicism to him, and DeHaan just doesn’t bring that.

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Cara Delevingne may indeed end up being a fine actress but between this and Suicide Squad, she’ll have trouble convincing people of that. It’s not really her fault as both films give her little to do but pose and look good. The fifteen-minute chunk of this film that features just her sans Valerian was pretty good and made me wish the movie was just about her. Those scenes don’t have her just reacting to Valerian but doing her own thing.

Rihanna is fine, but she really just has a two scene cameo. Without trying to give anything away, the character Rihanna plays continues Besson’s strange sexual politics with holdovers from The Professional and The Fifth Element.

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In addition to poorly directed actors, another aspect holding this film back is its runtime. There are longer movies, and if a movie is working runtimes don’t really matter. But Valerian feels LONG. I believe there was a hope of creating cliffhanger elements—scenes with “What will happen?” moments from action to action, creating a feeling of suspense. Valerian tries for that, but it doesn’t quite work. I imagine it’s because I didn’t care for the characters, so I just wanted things to move on rather than furthering an inconsequential side journey.

It’s also worth noting the amount of confusing plot elements. The group I was with had so many questions about certain elements that we couldn’t answer. That’s not the biggest deal in the world with a film like this about character motivation and set pieces. But if you’re watching and find yourself going “Wait, what?” know you weren’t alone. For example, Valerian spends the majority of the film being a soldier that doesn’t take orders. But in a pivotal moment, Valerian claims he’s just a soldier who only ever takes orders. He then stops taking orders, acting like it’s the first time in his life he’s ever done that to prove to Laureline that he can be more than an obedient soldier.  Laureline apparently believed Valerian was just an obedient soldier, even though he’d been ignoring orders the entire film. It’s… weird.

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So that’s Valerian, a film that has an interesting core but so many surface issues. The themes it presents aren’t strong enough to get past the runtime. I’d still encourage audiences to go see the movie—it’s a visual feast with some interesting ideas on its mind. But don’t expect to love any of the characters or walk away with any quotable lines. Marvel at the mess and then wonder why no one cleaned it up.

2/5

But what did you think Thumpers? Am I way off base? Did you love these characters? What were some of your favorite scenes let me know @Jurassicalien on twitter and be sure to tag @HyperRPG

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Posted by Cameron Rice in Movies
(Get Your Comics) On the Floor

(Get Your Comics) On the Floor

To those who say Comic-Con isn’t about comics anymore, we say…sure it is! And we made this music video to drive that point home. 

If you didn’t catch our new original music video “Get Your Comics (On the Floor)” featuring Abby Trott, Chris Bramante and Matt Acevedo, check it out on our YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMyz79bRpI

Here’s what the Internet had to say about it: 

“Addictive…a catchy salute…’Get Your Comics (On the Floor)’ delivers a strong message to those who have become too enamored of the cinema and TV marketing machines swallowing most of the attention.” -SyFy

http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/infectious-new-sdcc-music-video-remembers-that-comics-started-it-all

” ‘Comics on the Floor’ from the team at Hyper RPG is tons of fun! We loved seeing all the different things they chronicled at #SDCC2017!” -Comic-Con International 

“It’s insanely catchy, almost frustratingly so.” -io9 

http://io9.gizmodo.com/music-video-celebrates-that-comic-con-still-is-about-th-1797361869

“The video is…a fun reminder of the often underpaid creators who give us the characters and storylines that we love.” -The Mary Sue 

https://www.themarysue.com/share-the-comics-creator-love-with-this-sdcc-music-video/

Posted by Malika Lim in Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming Spidey’s back, but is he better than ever?

With Spider-Man: Homecoming, we finally welcome Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a Spider-Man film many were demanding, but it’s also a character in Marvel that many feel was already done very well. Despite the fact that some now seem to disregard Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films (which is foolish), they still hold a special place in so many of our hearts.  Spider-Man: Homecoming had to carve its own path while showing that it had a reason to exists to the general movie-going public beyond “Oh, cool Spider-Man is on screen with Iron Man.”

So how is it?

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It’s good! Spider-Man: Homecoming is good. It’s very good.

But it’s not great.  And I’ll get into why in a bit. But let’s talk about what works.

The casting is pitch perfect. Holland is an amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker, a combo that’s proven hard to pull off but Holland rises to the occasion. He plays Peter as someone with a sense of longing and imbues that with Spider-Man as well. Often, even in the comics, Spider-Man can be portrayed as very cool and smooth while the alter ego Peter is either just a cypher or an obvious stab at the polar opposite of cool. He can be a hard nut to crack, but Holland and the writers cracked this nut masterfully.

Michael Keaton as The Vulture is great. I’ll own up to being a big-time Keaton fan boy,  so I was in the bag with him from the start, but he truly is great, and the script gives him a lot to chew on. Marvel has a problems with their villains—something even the hardest of hardcore fans can admit. But Keaton breaks through and really stands out. It might be because his motivation isn’t about destroying New York or taking over the world or harnessing the Infinity Stones. Keaton’s Vulture was simply interested in profit to provide for his family and dealing with anyone who got in his way. We get to see this simple, stripped down motivation and storytelling with a great actor, and it paid off in a big way.

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The rest of the cast was also fantastic, and the diversity in the film (from people with actual lines to people populating the background) was awesome. It never called attention to itself, but this New York—Peter’s New York—was filled to the brim with people of different backgrounds, skin color, and sexual preferences. You know, kind of like how big cities actually are in America. It made this cinematic Spider-Man feel like he lived in a world we recognize.

The action is a lot of fun. There are scenes that are pure, stand-out Spider-Man scenes. The heroic moments in D.C. and the fight on the Staten Island Ferry are great. It was also nice to see a Spider-Man film where the third act didn’t involve the villain attempting to kidnap and kill the female lead to lure out Peter. We’ve seen that five times now—didn’t need it a sixth.  

And this is also Spider-Man’s movie. There was concern going in about how much Iron Man would be in the film or take over the film. RDJ is a commanding screen presence, so it’s understandable why, from a studio standpoint, you’d want him in the movie as much a possible. But luckily we don’t see that. He comes in, does the things he needs to do, pushes the story and plot forward, and gives the movie back to Spider-Man. This is exactly what needed to happen.

The movie is also very funny. It provided the right amount of laughs, giving us comedy that led us to the dramatic moments and dramatic moments that were eased by the comedy.

So it’s a very good movie.

But it’s not a great one.

What holds it back from being great? Well that’s going to take a bit of explaining so buckle up.

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*SPOILERS AHEAD*

 

Before I dive into this stuff, I want to talk about the idea of the necessity for preexisting knowledge of the source. If you’re familiar with outside sources (the comics, other movies, etc.), is that knowledge one must have in order to enjoy a new piece of work in a different medium? For example, “I know everything about the Harry Potter books, so therefore this character that had one line in the film is actually a great film character because I know the books.” The outside knowledge will help inform your enjoyment of the new piece of work. Personally, I am of the mind that a movie needs to stand on its own two feet—the text of the film is key over outside sources. Outside knowledge is great, but at the end of the day, the movie needs to be able to be a great movie; not hoping people will bring with them their prior knowledge.

I bring this up because outside of Peter, the Vulture, and Ned, the character work in this film is very surface-level.

Let me ask you a question: Ignoring the comics or what you remember from the 90s cartoon, what do we know about Liz Allen?

Other than what she looks like? We know she’s a senior, and is in some of the same clubs as Peter and… that’s about it.

In this film, what do we know about Aunt May Parker? Other people find her attractive and she’s been through a lot recently.

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The people on Vulture’s crew? One’s an inventor and the other is a villain reveal, but we don’t really know anything about them. Do they have families? Why are they following the Vulture? Is it just money?

I ask these questions because surrounding your main character with people we know and grow to either like or dislike help inform the film and the main character’s journey.  For all the talk of this being a high school John Hughes movie, I’d argue John Hugues imbued his characters with a lot more depth and understanding of who they are. High school movies only truly work when you know about the people in that high school, and again, beyond what they look like, we don’t know much about the people Peter is in school with. We know how Peter feels about them, but how do they feel about Peter?

A big part of the Spider-Man mythos is Peter being late and unreliable with lame excuses for both because he can’t let people know the real reasons for his tardiness. We see that in this film, but it helps to deepen those moments if we know the people he’s letting down—if we understand why they’re disappointed. We want Peter to get to where he said he would be because we like him and we like the people he made the promise to. I’m not saying every character needed monologues or giant moments to spoonfeed to us exactly their story. It can be small things. We get a nice moment with Liz, seeing she has an adventurous or rebellious personality when she tries to talk Peter into swimming at the hotel pool. We needed a little more of those moments.

An example of someone in the movie we do get to know through his actions and moments is Flash Thompson.  Flash was the bully, but we also see him trying to answer questions in class, vying for Peter’s spot on the academic decathlon team, and weaseling his way out of danger with the trophy. Little small character moments and beats like that totally informed me of who this Flash Thompson was. He didn’t need a speech or a one on one scene with Peter; small beats said a ton. A few more character could have used that.

“Why does this matter? If the villain works and the main character works, isn’t that enough?”

Depending on the film, yes. But Spider-Man is so much about making sacrifices for other people that I think we need to know more about those people. I question his motivation, and that’s a thing that keeps a good movie from being a great movie.


On top of the surface supporting cast, Spider-Man: Homecoming lacks some emotional depth. That’s not to say it has no emotional depth. The basic story is Peter learning that he’s already Spider-Man and that he doesn’t need the fancy gadgets to be who he already is—a very simple idea and one that would work for people of high school age. And it does work, there’s not a lack of depth there.

What I’m talking about is a more of an overall deepness. There’s a thing holding this film back from reaching the levels of greatness that many other superhero films have: the other character. In this case, “the other character” is Uncle Ben (or lack thereof).

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Before anyone sends me any outraged Tweets, I’m not saying they needed to do the origin again. No, no, no. I didn’t need to see Peter get bitten by the spider, I didn’t need to see the wrestling match, hell, I didn’t even need to see Ben be cast and get shot just to say the line. This film as it is works perfectly fine without casting someone in the role of Uncle Ben. But to never mention him at all is… odd. They make very vague reference to him (a line about May being through a lot lately), but again, I take the film text to be king above all outside knowledge. Ben’s name is never said, and all we get is that vague moment. Judging by what we saw in the film, we could believe that Ben just went off to Vegas, we could believe Ben never existed and May just lost her job, we could believe that Ben was abducted by the aliens from Avengers and will return in a future film.

You may say “Cameron, of course that didn’t happen.” But my point is that the film—ignoring all the history of the comics and knowledge of past films—doesn’t prove any of those silly theories wrong. Frankly, it just feels like a studio move to avoid an audience yelling “Oh, not another origin!” It doesn’t feel natural, mainly because there are very natural moments Ben could have come up and not derailed or changed the film. Here’s a few:

  1. When Tony tells Peter to “let this one go,” Peter could argue why he can’t just let one go—letting one go means something bad happens.
  2. When The Vulture explains why he does what he does for his family, Peter could mention his family or reflect on the family he just lost.
  3. When The Vulture talks about the virtues of blue collar work and the little people versus the big people, Peter could slightly understand after growing up with his blue collar aunt and uncle.
  4. And perhaps the easiest missed opportunity, when Iron Man tells Peter to worry about street crime (something that killed Uncle Ben), Peter seemed more concerned about becoming an Avenger. He could have had a moment of realization—he could save people like Uncle Ben.

These are all actual scenes in the movie that missed an opportunity, and that’s where the frustration lies. Very natural moments for Peter to either connect or understand or add some depth by talking about Uncle Ben were completely avoided.

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Heroes work, not just because of their ability, but because of their motivator. Superman isn’t Superman just because he’s an alien that landed on earth. He’s Superman because the Kents found him. Batman isn’t Batman just because his parents died. He’s Batman because he was raised by Alfred. Spider-Man isn’t Spider-Man just because he got bit by a Spider that gave him powers. He’s Spider-man because he was given a great lesson by his Uncle Ben. As it stands, without Uncle Ben truly being a part of this world, we have a Spider-Man that’s Spider-Man because he got bit by a spider that gave him powers and he lives in a world with other heroes, so he might as well be one, too. That’s not bad. It’s good. It’s fine. But it’s not deep. We see a Spider-Man who, when crushed and facing defeat thinks of the words uttered by Tony Stark and not those uttered by May or Ben or Liz or Ned. We see a Spider-Man whose motivated by becoming a hero and not by protecting his friends, his family, and his neighborhood.

Those are my main issues, and they were fairly difficult to talk about. The movie hit on so many levels but missed some key moments. What I’m asking for wouldn’t have altered the story—same structure, same cast, same moments that already exist. It’s just those little things that can ripple and hold a film back.

And that’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Go see this movie The cast is great, it’s colorful and fun, and it has some great Spidey moments.

My final verdict:
4/5

But what do you think? Did this movie totally work for you, or were there things you were hoping to see? And where do they go in the sequel? Let me know on twitter @Jurassicalien and tag @Hyper_RPG as well!

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Posted by Cameron Rice in Movies

Baby Driver – The Hype is Real

 

 

I could simply tell you that Baby Driver is awesome and that you should go see it right now, and I could just stop there. End of review: 5/5.

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But… I’ll give ya a little more than that.

Baby, the titular driver of the film, suffers from tinnitus brought on by an accident he suffered as a kid. As a result, he constantly wears ear buds from various ipods to drown out the ringing. He also does this to pump himself up when he’s the getaway driver for a series of crimes. The crimes are organized by Kevin Spacey (who’s playing a part he could do in his sleep, but that doesn’t mean he’s not awesome to watch). Spacey’s character makes it a rule to use different crews for different jobs, but Baby is his constant—his good luck charm.

After completing one last owed job to Spacey, Baby meets a local diner waitress named Deborah. Just as it looks like his relationship and life are about to begin, Spacey brings him in for yet another… one last job.

Those are the basics of the plot, but it’s not what makes the movie special. It’s the little details. Wright is the kind of director who fills his films with wonderful small moments—a propulsive edit and small background pieces that make the movie more and more rewarding on rewatch. The entire opening credits are so much fun as Baby walks to get coffee in a very impressive single take with lyrics to the song he’s listening to popping up in the background.

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And there is no way to talk about this film without talking about the soundtrack. Simply put, it’s amazing and incredibly diverse. The film is wall-to-wall music. Music is so pervasive that the few times there’s no music, it stands out (deliberately so). It’s the kind of film that in the 90s would have gotten two CD releases (Think your Romeo + Juliets, and Trainspottings). I feel that, much like Guardians, if people see this movie in droves then this soundtrack could become a big deal. But it’s not just good music for the sake of good music. It’s music often used to define a character—not just Baby, but also Deborah and the people in his crew.

It’s a simple story told very very well. Everything about it just works.

The cast is great, Jamie Foxx is the kind of villain you want in this film: you never know what he might do next. Jon Hamm does a wonderful job as the guy who acts like a friend. From the bottom to the top, the cast is doing good work; especially the central couple. Fact is, these two play the type of character you can see young people really falling for. Lily James is incredibly likable. And it’d be easy to dismiss Ansel Elgort as Baby, but hopefully audiences can see his mastery in this film. He doesn’t speak much, and most of the role is just staring blankly or dancing to music, but that’s actually very hard to pull off. And “pull off,” he does.

Baby Driver is wonderful to look at, the romance is very sweet and cute without feeling cloying, and the action is just fantastic. Frankly, if they released this as a GTA movie, I’d buy it—there’s a lot of huge explosions and cop chases.

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I’m glad Wright made something original though.

To some extent it’s a crime power fantasy: someone who can drive fast, listen to great music, and fall in love with a beautiful girl all while looking really cool doing it. But like a good crime power fantasy, we see the downside, and Baby, as opposed to someone like Henry Hill in Goodfellas, does not want this life.

(l to r) Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Baby (Ansel Elgort) and Bats (JAMIE FOXX) discuss the next heist in TriStar Pictures' BABY DRIVER.

Bottom line, go to the theater, sit back, and enjoy the ride that is Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver.

What did you think Thumpers? Did you like it? Agree or disagree? You buying this soundtrack? What songs do you like driving to? Let me know @Jurassicalien and be sure to tag HyperRPG as well!

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Posted by Cameron Rice in Movies

Lego Batman Blu-Ray Review

In the world of streaming and downloadable media, some of us here at Hyper still enjoy getting BluRays. Be it for their special features or different cuts, picture quality and just nice packaging. We want to tell you, if some of the newest releases are worth picking up.

 

THE FILM: Lego Batman.

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FORMAT: 4K

HOW’S THE MOVIE:

Our team of Adam, Agustin and Hector already reviewed it!  Check that out here:

 

CAMERON’S THOUGHTS:

Good. not great. It had some 3rd act issues, but it was generally fun with a lot of laughs.

PICTURE:  

It’s a modern cartoon from a major studio, so it looks great. They’d really have to mess up for this to look bad on a nice TV.

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THE MEAT AND POTATOES:

The main reasons we here LOVE and support physical media are the special features and the picture quality.

Even bad movies often come with some AMAZING special features that make the disc worth purchasing.

SO HOW ARE THE SPECIAL FEATURES:

Just like the film as a whole, good but not great.

We have:

  • Some short “making of” featurettes (which recycle some material) lasting no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Four deleted scenes.
  • A look at some short film contest winners in a promotion before the films release (Will Arnett introduces these).
  • A commentary track from the director and crew.
  • Four new shorts made for this release featuring the film’s voice cast (except, glaringly, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred. Why he’s the only one, I don’t know, and it’s very clearly NOT him).

None of these features are bad. But for a film that was such a big hit featuring such a beloved character,

I do wish there was a little more. This release feels thin, especially compared to The Lego Movie release.

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My favorite special feature was the deleted scene section because the scenes were very funny and actually showed different progression of the film.

Some of the scenes were still in storyboard form or barely finished computer generation. If you’re a fan of animation, this holds some interest.

The “making of” was fine but scarce. The new exclusive shorts didn’t do much for me but, admittedly, humor is subjective (keep in mind, I did find the film funny).

The commentary track, though interesting, features so many people that it feels a bit all over the place. The fact that the actors, many of whom are great improvisers, are not a part of the commentary was disappointing.

The contest material was very sweet, but I don’t imagine wanting to watch it more than once after you’ve seen it.31795593c12e0c1d1b

FINAL VERDICT:  

Though a good film, this ends up feeling like a standard modern day kids’ movie BluRay release. Unless you’re a huge fan of the film, just grab this on discount or when there’s an iTunes sale.

There could have been a lot more. And this is a good movie, but we want to look at the whole package. The special features just aren’t doing it. It feels like something you’d throw on for kids that you’re babysitting; not so much an interesting look at an intricate movie that a film fan typically wants from physical media’s special features.

There are a few things here and there, but it’s hard to justify dropping $30 on the disc for such scarce feature.  

BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK? Did you grab this disc? Do you disagree with my take? What are some special features that WOULD have made you purchase this disc? Let me know on twitter @Jurassicalien and be sure to tag @Hyper_RPG

Posted by Cameron Rice in Movies
The Mummy – Are there any saving graces?

The Mummy – Are there any saving graces?

Cameron Rice

The Mummy had almost everything going against it. From trailers that quickly became easy Internet fodder to the announcement that the film would be the first in a multi-film cinematic universe (something audiences don’t seem to be terribly interested in unless it’s coming from Marvel Studios), The Mummy just had a general lack of buzz and excitement.

But that’s all stuff outside the film. Perhaps the film could actually be great, simply suffering from the curse of bad marketing and studio hubris. Maybe, taken on it’s own, we could have ourselves a fun little adventure film with some thrills, much like we saw in the Brendan Fraser films. So, pre-publicity aside, how is The Mummy?

I’m here to report that The Mummy is bad. Very bad.

Tom Cruise stars as Nick—a soldier of fortune who hunts down ancient artifacts and sells them on the black market. With his partner, Sergeant Chris Vail (Jake Johnson in a role that was clearly meant to be comedic but just comes off as irritating), Nick uncovers the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (played by Sofia Boutella). Nick also enlists the help of Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) because Nick had a one night stand with her and stole the map to Ahmanet. So, Jenny hates Nick, but of course they fall in love and see more in each other because movie. Jenny was given the map by her boss, Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe: the only one who seems to realize he’s in a big ol’ pile of schlock and is consequently the best part of the film). Jekyll and Jennifer work for an organization that discovers monsters… or preserves monsters… or fights monsters (here’s your universe building). Nick becomes cursed for opening the tomb and unleashing Ahmanet. Mummy stuff happens: soul sucking, sand waves, spiders, etc. A race ensues to break the curse before the entire planet crumbles under Ahmanet’s rule.

So what’s the problem? I’m certainly not expecting a Mummy film from the writer of the first two Transformers movies and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be Oscar quality. The summer movie season is often one that we associate with this kind of dumb fun. Personally, I’m someone who tends to enjoy Roland Emmerich’s brand of summer schlock. So what happened here?

Well the devil’s in the details, so let’s talk details.
From a story standpoint, this film has six total writers: three with a “story by” credit and three with an actual screenplay credit. And perhaps because of this, the film is very inconsistent. Ahmanet seems to get new powers just as the film needs her to get new powers. This isn’t the biggest deal, except she never uses her old powers again, even when it would seem helpful to use her old powers. Half the film she seems to be able to control birds and bugs, but we never see that again (like the scene in the woods—woods that probably had a lot of birds and bugs.) The weapons of man seem to affect Ahmanet up until they just don’t anymore. She can lure Tom Cruise to her until she suddenly can’t anymore (probably because he’s such a good guy [or maybe because he’s in love]). It’s not that the character needs to use her powers all the time. It just seems odd that at times when certain powers would be very useful, she just doesn’t use them. Maybe she forgets she has them? Regarding the power of the curse, Tom Cruise can survive a violent fiery plane crash, but a spear killed the last guy who was cursed by Ahmanet, and he never came back?

“Cruise’s character is all over the map; he’s a literal soldier that’s also a treasure hunter. He’s a piece of crap who jumps head first into everything without thinking of the consequences.”

Okay, some of this may seem like nitpicking, but it’s the smallest things that can pull us out of a film like this. Enough about story, let’s talk about character.
Cruise’s character is all over the map; he’s a literal soldier that’s also a treasure hunter. He’s a piece of crap who jumps head first into everything without thinking of the consequences. He stole from this woman and almost left her to be killed by a mummy, but he apparently has real feelings for her. There’s at least three scenes of Cruise looking right into camera while he’s told exposition. His personal stuff aside, I like Tom Cruise as an actor and do enjoy most of his films. But just to say it straight up, he’s too old for this kind of role now. Tom Cruise looks great for his age (hell, he looks great for my age), but at 54, a character who just can’t get his act together and who’s a real rascal in the Army does not gel. It feels like a part written for someone in their mid 30s. It seems like Cruise was interested, and being one of the few big stars that can still bring an audience today, Universal put him in the film and didn’t change the character in the script to better suit Cruise. Literally everyone else in this film besides him and Crowe (who is actually younger than Cruise and whose job is to explain the world, playing an older expert-like character) is in their 30s. This also adds a level of “yeech” when Cruise and Boutella kiss in this film. Or when Cruise eyeballs Wallis’ midriff and talks about their one night stand. Yeech, indeed.

I’m not saying Cruise can’t do action movies. Far from it. I love the Mission Impossible films. But those films allow Cruise to play a man and character appropriate for his age. He’s also not kissing on girls 20 years younger then him.

The Mummy does two things that are true sins in an adventure film. Firstly, one of the reasons we watch adventure films is to see our heroes get placed in dangerous situations and see how they get out of them. When faced with great peril, how will our heroes get out of the pickle? For one such scene in The Mummy, the answer is…

“It was just a dream.”

Right when it looks like things are going to be very bad for our hero, he wakes up in a different place. That sucks. Secondly, in multiple situations, Cruise gets out of danger, not because of anything he does or because he uses his mind or skill, but because outside parties who we haven’t previously met come in and save him. Is this character really capable of anything or just lucky? Dreams and character introductions are not satisfying ways to have our heroes get out of tight spots.

Perhaps most upsetting about this film is its special effects. I can’t recall a big summer release that had such glaringly bad Bad CGCGI since X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Every studio adventure movie has CG, but you never want it to pull you out, and this film had a lot of CG that pulled me out—be it rats, skeleton men, or Jake Johnson dead man effects (Yes, Johnson dies and then plays exposition machine to Cruise, blatantly taking from An American Werewolf in London.). I hate seeing poor CG effects in instances that didn’t need to be CG in the first place. Ahmanet has a CG undead army that would have been more effective if they had men in suits. Instead we get an “I Am Legend” vibe that just feels outdated.. It’s odd because Universal knows how to do effect films. Look at The Fast films and the recent Jurassic World. Regardless of the quality of those films from the script standpoint, the effects are great. This film just looks and feels cheap.

Are there any saving graces? Boutella is trying and doing a fine enough job with what little she is given. She’s an interesting actress and has a commanding presence on screen. The idea of her playing a monster is a smart one. I wish she had more to do, but the bit of fun she does get to have is good. For me, the honest-to-God highlight of this movie is Russell Crowe. He realizes the kind of film he’s in, and he just eats it up. He’s big and broad and cheesy, and in a film like this, that’s super welcomed. To be honest, if he’s the Nick-Fury-like character for the Dark Universe, then I’ll be on board. I wished we could have seen more of him in The Mummy.

the-mummy-russell-crowe-dr-jekyll

So that’s The Mummy: an adventure film that isn’t exciting and a horror film that isn’t scary. It just exists with some minor highlights. I will give credit that the film is only two hours long. In the day of the modern blockbuster that feels the need to be almost three hours, this was a nice literal change of pace.

Where does this leave the Dark Universe? It’s hard to say. With casts and directors announced already, we’ll probably get another one or two in the series, even if this film doesn’t do very well. In the stack of Mummy movies, it’s better then The Dragon Emperor but not by much.

Find the Russell Crowe scenes. Skip the rest.

1.5/5

Posted by Cameron Rice in Movies, 0 comments