[EXPRESSO] Asterix & Friends iOS | SPQR

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While it isn’t very popular in the U.S. (or anywhere outside Europe, i guess), the Asterix & Obelix comic series its fondly remembered here in Italy, and it’s definitely one of the best things to come out of the “Italy VS France” senseless rivarly, as it focuses on a small Gaul village resisting the Roman Empire conquest with the titular heroes and a magic potion of superstrenght.

Many adaptations were made, as animated and live-action movies (the last one came out in 2018), and of course, videogames, from Atari 2600 onwards, and since 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the series (i guess this the reason), we got a remastered port of 2006 Asterix & Obelix XXL 2: Mission Las Vegum, with an upcoming third game.

And in 2016, Namco Bandai released… this for smarthphones.

I stalled talking about it because there’s really nothing to say. You’ve played any of those Facebook/browser games where you run a farm or something? You’ve played this. You click on things to get resources, you use them to build facilities in the village, you collect characters to stack as fighting fodder in the mindless battles (represented as classic cartoon “scuffle clouds”), use said resources to power them, and fend off the always encroaching roman assaults, which keep happening even if you’re not playing.

Because the timed events, the trifecta of currencies, daily log-in bonuses aren’t enough, let’s really force the hand of “retention” upon the players, either you play this forever every day or fuck you with a rusty menhir. No middle ground.

And to do that you mostly wait out timers or cough up the green, with aggressive in-game ads to boot. At the very least the cartoony graphic style is in tone with the works of Renè Goscinny (RIP) and Albert Udenzo.

Go read those, instead, i highly recommend it!

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[EXPRESSO] Jurassic Pinball NSWITCHDDL |Triassic Bore

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I do know i wasn’t expecting much when i picked this up on sale for like a buck and seventy cents.

I mean, if you see what other titles Enjoy Up Games publishes, you really won’t expect much from a single pinball table. Yeah, instead of the Pinball Fx/Pinball Arcade/Zen Pinball business model of a free client from where to try, see and get what table you like from their selection, Enjoy Up Games just sold the table for cheap as stand alone download.

Which it’s odd and makes me feel like i’m pickin on a small child, but i don’t feel that bad because this rotten kid is hurling obscenities and throwing shit at me because i dared to exist there and then.

Budget game, yeah, but i expect some competence from a modern release. Jurassic Pinball instead does even less than old compilation on GBA or PS2 did, not bothering to even have a small info section on the missions, the criteria to win or activate them. Just play and aim at the blinky things, eventually you’ll trigger a mission, in most cases by pure chance, because the physics are dung.

Balls either move up at absurd speed giving you no time to use the crap tilt function, or just suddendly lose all momentum in the very middle of the table, because they feel like it. I’ve played old pinball games that require you to get used to the physics, but even old Game Boy pinball games give you a better sense of control, here you always feel in the sclerotic manos of fate.

So, in a way, it won’t matter than the mission are very pedestrian and random, and that there’s literally nothing besides leaderboards. Not even a two player mode.

Don’t bother. Not even on sale.

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[EXPRESSO] Il Signor Diavolo (2019) | “Superstition, fear, and jealousy”

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To most of you in the english speaking regions, the name Pupi Avati most likely doesn’t ring a bell., but movie buffs may remember him as the director of The House With The Laughing Windows, and this movie (title translates to “Mr. Devil”, roughly, and came out a couple of days ago in Italy) marks its return to the horror genre since 1996’s The Mysterious Enchanter.

Set in the northern Italy of 1952, the movie follows a ministry inspector, Furiò (yes, with an “i”) Momentè, tasked to clean the reputation of the church regarding the murder of a teen, believed to be possessed by the locals, killed by a fourtheen year old boy named Carl. As he travels to Venice to investigate, he reads the reports of previous interrogatories with the boy, learning of how Carl and his friend Paul lived happily, until the arrival of Emilio, the deformed single heir of a powerful woman, and popular opinion is that he tore to pieces his own little sister.

Paul shows off and publicly humiliates Emilio, whom, angered, snarls at him with monstruous teeth, and weird things start happening in the archaic small town, still largely beholden to supersistion and a tangible, fearful belief in the Devil.

It’s an old school horror movie, in many ways (there some practical gore done by Sergio Stivaletti, better known for his work with Dario Argento), with a good atmosphere, and it’s intriguing to see the inspector wading through the files and trying to discern the truth, wrapped as it is in a shroud of confusion and beliefs borne from pious peasant minds prone to burn the witch, all serving a conflict of religious and political interests, with an ambiguous but satisfying outcome.

Quite good, despite the “slo-mo” effects being a little too “old school”.

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Don’t expect a review of the Lion King remake

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Just figure i’d say it fiy, but don’t expect a review of The Lion King “live-action” (whatever the fuck it is) remake anytime soon. I refuse, after seeing the Dumbo live-action i’ve basically had enough, Disney clearly doesn’t care at all, no need to, so why bother? The dobloons will pour in anyway.

I’m not saying i won’t review it EVER, i’m saying i’m not seeing it in theathers, maybe in a couple years or if a want to go on a “live-action remake” review spree, these movies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, come on.

Sorry, i just can’t force myself to care, even for a quick EXPRESSO review, it ain’t worth just to say  Kemono Friends characters emote better.

I’ll have a review of another recent italian horror movie, so look forward to that.

Bye!

Shark Shock (2017) [REVIEW]| Rednecks VS Electro Shark

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Sans Peter Gabriel. Sadly.

It’s worth noting right away that you might already have seen this, it’s Trailer Park Shark, retitled as Shark Shock for the UK DVD release i bought. I would lament about the dvd cover (shown above) being false adverting, but there are jet skis and trailers in the movie, water though is far from crystaline since it takes place (and is filmed) in Lousiana, with waters as murky and brown as you can get. Continua a leggere “Shark Shock (2017) [REVIEW]| Rednecks VS Electro Shark”

[EXPRESSO] The Nest (2019) | Scrambled, Scrambled Eggs

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Oddly enough as it may sound, there’s not many italian horror movies screening in cinemas here in Italy.

So when i saw the trailer for The Nest, i was intrigued, even more because it didn’t look like one of those (relatively) cheap production when it clearly redubbed despite being filmed in Italy and with a lot of italians in the cast, like The Music Box/Il Carillon.

The story involves a wheelchair bound boy, Samuel, who is raised in this humongous estate, treated with a princely respect by his family and servants, all bound to the estate by a rigid set of rules set to ensur “the program” is respected at all costs. But Samuel feels more and more like a caged songbird, moved around by the wishes of his stern mother, even more restless due to the recent weird happenings and the arrival of a young girl called Denise..

The Nest is a movie with some good performances, a good atmosphere, an intriguing plot revolving the cultish family and the drama that inevitably festers in an enviroment like that, but it’s also a movie that reminded me of Hereditary. And i don’t mean that as a compliment, but here it truly feels like the horror parts were forced in by a producer, as they stick out like a sore thumb, underveloped, clichè and almost vestigial.

Then… the ending, which i’m just gonna spoil because it’s so fuckin stupid it deserves shame. Zombies. Out of nowhere, i’m sure the scriptwriter thought he established it before, but it didn’t, at all. I hate this ending because it doesn’t gel with anything, and reminded me of the shit Fragasso and Mattei pulled in the 80’s, i truly hate to say this about a movie with some self-respect and ambition.

Decent, but frustratingly uneven.

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P.S.: It’s worth noting that there’s another movie simply called “The Nest” , it’s a 2016 fairly obscure italo-swiss production (so it explains why they named this one “The Nest – Il Nido”), directed by Klaudia Reynicke, maybe more talked about after Love Me Tender, her new movie which had its debut in Swiss cinemas this 9th of august.

[EXPRESSO] Crawl (2019) | Lator Gator

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My first thought when i heard the subject was: isn’t this like Bait/Shark 3D, but with a crocodile and a house instead of a shark and a submerged mart?

Nothing wrong with it, given how Bait is one of better shark movies of the lot (definitely a fuckton better among the endless pile of exploitation and B-Z cinema the marine predator attracts), and it’s not a rip-off of it anyway, it has a similar premise of being locked in the same location as an aggressive killer animal/monster. Which could also describe Aliens, so let’s just move to the plot.

Haley Keller is an underperforming swimmer, but hasn’t talked with her father (who also was her swimming coach for many years) in a long time, and their parents separated. But she goes to check on him when informed of a hurricane hitting their old house, and they find themselves trapped in the basement with alligators, with the water level constantly rising, and no help in sight.

Because what better bonding experience than trying to survive being eaten by Schnappi’s cousins can you wish for? Alexandra Aja (Piranha 3D, the 2006 The Hills Have Eyes remake, the 2012 Maniac remake, Horns) is back again with a relatively simple premise, one that could be seen in many low budget z-grade movies, but here is executed really well, with some stylish and brutal kills, tense scenes, a well known but still damn brutal primeval creature that’s lethal , no need to crossbred it with octopuses, sharks, isotopes, trilobites, etc.

Great pratical gore, great CG on the alligator, decent kill count, likeable characters, a perfect pace without any dull moment (just some brief moments of reprieve and character building), this has everything you may want from a fun “killer croc/alligator movie”, which are usually not this bloody good.

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[EXPRESSO] The Quake (2018) | Daijishin

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Disaster movies aren’t exactly my bag, but this time isn’t about american setpieces and explosion porn, it’s a norwegian thriller about a distraught geologist, Kristian Elkjord, who years ago was able to save his family and other people from a previous earthquake, but was also consumed by guilt over the many people who died, and became obsessed by his work and research. So much he practically abandoned his family.

When he hears of a friend/colleague dying, he starts looking through his notes and alternative theories about the methods of detecting and reading telluric activity, he realizes he was onto something, and tries to convince his old boss that an earthquake of gynormic proportion is about to break out in Oslo, but he dismisses it as him being paranoid as hell, even more since the technology they have now made monitoring sismic activity even better than before.

But because the movie would stop 40 minutes in otherwise, Kristian is right about the earthquake, and tries to grab his family and run away before it happens, but he has to rescue them from a crumbling skyscraper in the center of the city during the aftershocks.

If you’re here mostly for the spectacle of Mother Earth undoing the work of man in a fell, catastrophic swoop (which delivers in the final act), then The Quake isn’t for you, because it’s mostly about Kristian trying to make amends with his family left behind for a cause he found to be more important, feeling responsable for not having done more before.

Which isn’t a bad thing since the drama is compelling, acting is good, but characters and direction feel a bit too dry, especially in the action scenes of the last act.

Not “good”, but quite, quite close, a B++, if you will. Worth seeing, still.

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P.S.: Also, this seems to be a follow up of sort to a movie called The Wave (cited in the american tagline), which i didn’t see or knew existed.

[EXPRESSO] Fighting With My Family (2019) | Wrestle for it!

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Preface: i was not familiar with the real life events this is based upon, or the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family, about the wrestler Paige.

And one could have made some educated guesses that some of the events didn’t actually happen, i didn’t even know it’s basically a dramatization of a documentary based on a true story. I did know it had Dwayne Johnson, Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn and Florence Pugh (recently seen in Midsommar) in it, and i was already sold on that.

Zak and Saraya Vebis, brother and sister, since the age of 10 are trained by their parent in their work and family tradition: putting up wrestling events and training other kids in their gym in ol’ Norwich, UK. They grow up with the dream of making it big, until Zak and Saraya manage to attend a try-out event, but only Saraya is ultimately accepted, which crushes Zak’s long held dream.

So Saraya moves to Florida to train and try to actually be signed into a league, and Zak stays in Norwich to attend to his newborn son and the family gym.

You’ve heard this story before, you know where it goes, but it’s done without over-romanticizing the sport/craft in question, with believable character arcs, believable characters, a great cast, and it isn’t a glorified ad for the WWE, or its’ public, for that matter. And more importantly, it has a honest, big hearted attitude about the drama, so it never feels too contrivedly syrupy or more dramatic just for the sake of being dramatic, but more grounded in reality.

Not a complain about the movie itself, but there’s a bitter aftertaste to it knowing this year the WWE strikes a 10 million deal with Saudi Arabia for pay-for-view shows, so no women division, because Saudi Arabia.

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Magical Senpai (2019) Anime First Impressions | Magashi Kashi

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I feel like getting some use of my Crunchyroll subscription (which in Italy isn’t a great deal like it is for the States), so let’s talk about the first 3 episodes of Magical Senpai, let’s do a “first impression sorta thing”.

The premise is quite simple: non-Hotaru Shidare of Dagashi Kashi is not a publicity stunt weirdo obsessed with candy products, but a girl that opened a Magic Club in the school, and wants to recruit other members by just being obsessed about magic instead of candy. But as a random freshman finds out when deciding to see what the club was like…. she is awful at doing magic tricks. She tries her best, but she’s still awful, really, really catastrophically awful at it.

The freshman is basically strung along her well meant but failing attempts at magic and excessively talkative behaviour, and their hijinxs (eventually, going by the opening and the mediocre song used for it) attract other weird characters to the club.. Continua a leggere “Magical Senpai (2019) Anime First Impressions | Magashi Kashi”