[EXPRESSO] Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (2023) | Dynasty Gauls

We’re going into “eurocomics” territory today (AGAIN), as in, the beloved Asterix & Obelix series, which is indeed quite nostalgic for many older folks that grew up by either reading the many print adventures of the titular duo of gauls, or the many animated movies based on them, and it’s regardless a very influential comic book series, even to this day.

While i’m very familiar with the series, i can’t say as much for the many Asterix & Obelix live-action movies.

I really can’t compare how it fares against the previous ones, so keep that in mind.

This time we have the village deal with, Fu Yi, the daughter of the current Empress of China which – alongside with her trusted bodyguard – escaped to ask help in saving the Empress and stopping the schemes of an evil prince that guns for the throne.

Honestly i think the idea of having them go to China is timely (and no, this is not based on an existing story, it’s an original script), and it’s perfect for the deliberately implausibile-but-not-quite approach to history the series always had, i mean, it’s a movie where we have Ceasar use “vibrating cum ringtone” carrier pigeons, and soccer player Ibrahimovic plays a divo centhurion that has the Roman soldier sing his Queen-style knock-off anthem.

So yeah, french actors in cartoony costumes that can send a person flying into the stratosphere with a single flick can have some wuxia stuff to contend with, why not, but the characters of Asterix and Obelix are on point and the comedy it’s pretty cute.

I mean, it’s aimed at a “young audiences-family” target (as it would be), and for that i feel it’s a decent silly romp, you could far worse in terms of live-action films based on old comics.

Asterix & Obelix XXL: Romastered PS4 [REVIEW] | For Toutatis!

Oddly, this was the last of the Asterix XXL series to get the remaster treament, the first being XXL 2 in 2018, then we had the brand new XXL 3 in 2019, then the “romastered” version of the first game in 2020, the one we’re talking about today, to celebrate the release of a new Asterix & Obelix movie in theathers.

One of the live-action ones, but still, it’s new Asterix & Obelix material!

Originally developed for PS2, Gamecube and PC (with a GBA version that’s basically another game entirely) by defunct french studio Etranges Libellules and published by Atari Europe, this remaster was instead published by Microids (which pretty much took the place Infogrames had back then) and developed by the quite non-defunct (at the time of writing, anyway) french Osome Studios.

The plot sees the titular duo wander off of their little Gaul village to the ol’ boar hunt only to come back and find out Ceasar (yes, Julius Caius Ceasar from Caligula, exactly) has somehow managed to storm the village, capturing most people and sending them off to various distant ends of the Roman empire in order to have locked out sight and mind, hopefully for good.

But with the help of a fired roman spy, you find out that most of the imprisoned gauls most likely managed to get a piece of the map indicating their location, as Ceasar took the extra step – just in case – of ripping the map in pieces and scattering them in various locations.

Good enough as an excuse in terms of videogame logic to have Asterix & Obelix travel to various places like Egypt, Normandy, Greece and Helvetia, freeing their fellow gaul citizens and getting more pieces of the map along the way.

Continua a leggere “Asterix & Obelix XXL: Romastered PS4 [REVIEW] | For Toutatis!”

[EXPRESSO] Dante (2022) | Not Produced by EA Games

One of the advantage of being Italy-based is being able to easily see new movies from old italian directors that will never make the jump overseas, even on streaming, like this new romanticized retelling of the life of Dante Alighieri, released in theathers here in late September, simply called “Dante” and directed by Pupi Avati (famous for The House With The Laughing Windows, and also 2019’s Il Signor Diavolo).

Don’t ever say i don’t strive for variety, because i can assure you even here this is a niche release.

Regardless, it’s a period piece set in Reinassance Italy and fittingly follows Giovani Boccaccio’s ( the author of the Decameron and the first biographer of Dante, essential for cementing The Divine Comedy’s influence over time) efforts in redacting a piece about the life of the tuscanian poet, roughly 30 years after Dante’s death in 1321, coming in contact with people that were close to the poet and gathering new insight as he journeys to Ravenna in order to give Dante’s daughter monetary compensation on behalf of the city of Florence.

…it’s actually pretty good, as it goes for a realistic, grounded approach, does not shy away from the many unsavory aspects of the period or Dante’s life as a whole, be it the aftermath of the black plague, the political and religious intrigues in Florence leading to Dante fighting on the field and being exiled by the pope, the later years of extreme poverty, and not just quoting passages from his opus or his love for Beatrice.

All with a great italian cast, good costumes, some weird visuals, making for a good movie with a very niche target audience, even more since it’s definitely not an oversimplified digest of Dante Alighieri’s life and legacy made for audiences not versed in literature.

[EXPRESSO] Black Parthenope (2022) | ♫ Goin’ Naples Underground ♫

Bringing you more new italian horror movies coverage, the new ones that just kinda “sprout” out of nowhere into the programming schedule of my local cinemas, with no fanfare and almost no national marketing budget to speak of.

And i guess this is the year of smaller italian horror movies like this that frustrate me, as they make good use of distinctive regional italian locations and have some potential, but kinda squander it or are afflicted by fairly big flaws.

Black Parthenope is a horror thriller set in the incredibly extensive set of underground catacombs and tunnels of Naples, the so called “Naples Underground”, where some business people met in order to sell the entire “underground city” to a company that’ll make parking lots out of it, but they get lost and haunted by the neopolitean folklore legend of the “Monaciello” (meaning “small monk”), a wronged soul that was shunned and then killed in the underground tunnels, forever seeking revenge on anyone that walks his haunting grounds.

The Neapolis Underground setting it’s great, some of the scenes manage to create a decent atmosphere, the cast it’s decent and it’s a well produced movie… but it’s almost brought down entirely by how shallow, grating and obnoxious the characters are, to say nothing of the aggressively awful dialogue, and how uneven and often middlesome direction can be, falling back to cliches in a way telling of this being a feature debut for the director in question.

While the final part partially redeems the movie from “proper bad” territory, the first act almost makes you wanna give up on it entirely, but at least you can tell that this movie was always meant to be a thriller-horror movie, unlike the previosly reviewed The Bunker Game.

Even so, it’s definitely not a bad effort!

Dynasty Warriors (2021) [REVIEW] | Wuxia Warriors Of The Three Kingdoms

One last review to end this year’s Musou May (and yes i want to make this a regular column) proper, and it couldn’t be anything else than the Dynasty Warriors live-action film that came out last year in Chinese territories and has landed on Netflix pretty much everywhere. In 2021.

I genuinely did not knew it arrived last summer, and somehow Netflix forgot to tell me they even had it, shocking given my cronology, and due to me genuinely looking forward more to the movie than to mainline Dynasty Warriors games, as i’ve lamented before.

Though it’s one that both leaves you with a lot and very little to talk about, at least in terms of plot, since the series it’s one of the many adaptations of the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms novel, and despite their over the top nature, the games stayed fairly loyal to the source material in terms of characters and events, heck, even on stuff like the sparing supernatural-magic elements.

Continua a leggere “Dynasty Warriors (2021) [REVIEW] | Wuxia Warriors Of The Three Kingdoms”

Fate EXTELLA: The Umbral Star PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay

Ah yes, the Fate musous. Yes, Plural.

One that took surprisingly long, despite being one of the more requested crossovers with the formula, according to many japanese surveys results.

And oddly wasn’t snapped up by Tecmo Koei, but by Marvelous, which is both a good and a bad thing, for reasons we’re gonna get into later. But regardless, it’s nice to be reminded that these kind of games aren’t actually a patented formula…. at least i don’t think anymore, but still, this game is another proof that you can attempt a similar formula and Koei won’t sue off the back of their old, very vague patent.

I mean, they did make a “sequel” after this, so i’d think it’s safe to say that at least you can make “musou-likes”, if you so desire. And if the company that owns Senran Kagura can have more than a crack at it, you know the “low budget” excuse doesn’t quite hold as you’d expect and/or hope.

Continua a leggere “Fate EXTELLA: The Umbral Star PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay”

[EXPRESSO] Tutankhamun: The Last Exhibition (2022) | Here Comes The Centhury Boy

Docufilm time!

This one is an italian production directed by Ernesto Pagano, with some narration by Manuel Agnelli in the original italian release, and by Iggy Pop in the english/international one.

The documentary goes into the early discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by english aristocrat Howard Carver, talking about the impact on western popular culture the discovery had (including popularizing the “pharaoh’s curse” in various medias) and showing the preparations made for a London based exhibition that started in 2019 to put on the display the many treasures and relics found inside.

All with commentaries by various “talking heads” from the egyptian, italian and british side of things.

It’s not a bad documentary, necessarily, but it’s one that feels like it has to appeal to everyone, so it doesn’t quite committ to a certain direction nor goes into any detail. For example, in a docufilm about Tutankhamun you don’t learn much that wasn’t already common knowledge, you’d think they took the opportunity to actually go further and try to depict who this young pharaoh was a person (more than in a couple of passing lines, anyway), his lineage, the historical background he lived in…

Heck, i would have preferred some more footage of the exhibition itself (since due to COVID pandemic the tour stopped and Egypt decided not to move the artifacts out of the Giza museum), but nope, we have a cool narrating voice trying to fashion some kind of fictionalized “epic” scenes… only to then move to scenes of people slowly misuring, cataloguing and inspecting the artifacts.

It’s not “offensive” nor a complete bore, and it’s short, just 80 minutes long, but that exacerbates the feel this was made just to have something out celebrating the 100th anniversary of “King Tut”’s tomb being discovered.

[EXPRESSO] The Northman (2022) | VIKINGS, RAISE THE SHIELD WALL

Robert Eggers is back, this time not going for a psychological horror-thriller, but a way more straightforward tale of revenge, based on the legend of scandinavian prince Amleth (upon which Shakespear himself based his tragedy), here a young boy welcoming his father back, only to killed by his uncle for the throne and spouse. Amleth escapes, woving bloody vengeance.

Years pass, and as he wanders the lands as a berserker unit, he heards the name of his uncle and then concocts a plan to reach the isolated island where he scurried back some time ago, and exact his long held life-time wov made to his brutally murdered father.

And indeed brutal is the keyword here, as this movie really warrants the title of a “brutal viking epic”, as it depicts this nordic barbaric world inhabited by cruel men more akin to beasts, where pillage and murder exist on daily bases, villages hold ritual sacrifices (even human if need be) to appease their gods, mystical rites are held, witches reveal visions of inescapable fate, etc.

It’s that kind of barbarian middle ages, and The Northman sure as hell doesn’t shy away from showing raids, people being burned alive in houses (and a lot more graphic stuff), and it’s fittingly inhabited by refreshingly unapologetical, unflinchingly brutal characters that all perfectly fit in this world, as even what in other movie would be “the hero” it’s arguably even more despicable than the “villain”.

A lot of style (with Eggers’ touch easily recognizable in some weird psychedelic sequences), great characters, amazing atmosphere, superb cast and a captivating, graphic vengeance tale that enraptures from beginning to end.

It’s just hard to look away, even when a guy it’s getting an unrequested Skeletor-style “nosejob”.

To quote Nathan Explosion yet again: “Brutal”. In all the right ways.

Paripi Koumei / Ya Boy Kongming! (2022) [ANIME FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

(Impressions based upon the first 3 episodes)

I stumbled by chance into this new anime, and i feel it was meant to be, given my love for Romance Of The Three Kingdoms i’m not gonna skim over a new anime with good ol’ Zhuge Liang (AKA Kongming) as the protagonist, especially since it’s not a historical tale, but a sort of isekai-ish story where, after his death by illness in the Wuzhang Plains, sees him reincarnated as his young self in modern Shibuya during Halloween.

He gets drunk as a skunk and enjoys the party life that night, then the next day he’s helped by a young girl, an aspiring singer called Eiko, realizes what actually happened to him, and decides to help her back by serving as her “career strategist”, but first he needs a job to secure some “war funds”.

Luckily Eiko works and sings at a club run by a huge ROTTK nerd, so “ya boy” Kongming is hired as a barman.

Continua a leggere “Paripi Koumei / Ya Boy Kongming! (2022) [ANIME FIRST IMPRESSIONS]”

Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires PS4 [DEMO] [HANDS-ON]

With the game officially launching in the west in less than a month, Koei finally released the demo for Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires…. properly, i saw plenty of people that managed to get it via the Microsoft Store by fenagling with the regional accounts, but even those versions made available for non-english speaking territories had english in it.

Whatever, the demo is out now pretty much everywhere on consoles, and it includes the tutorial for the basic combat and the battle of Changsha, but NOT the Diplomacy phases and political managerie.

Make sense since they want to showcase the revamped Castle Sieges, by letting you play the battle of Changsha on the invading or defensive’s side, and also the revised Edit Mode, it’s an Empires game after, and you will be able to carry over the created officers’ data to the full game.

Continua a leggere “Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires PS4 [DEMO] [HANDS-ON]”