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] Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) | Vibranium Wars

For the record: i did enjoy the first Black Panther movie quite a lot when i saw it in theathers.

But i also saw how flippant is the quality of the MCU theathrical offerings, so expectations are as low as they have been for years. Especially with the passing of Chadwick Boseman, which is also honored and diegetically considered, as the death of T’Challa leaves Wakanda open to other nations trying to rob them of the Vibranium, forcing the reigning queen, the princess Shuri ( sister of the late T’Challa) and the remaining warrior women to fight for their land as Namor (i guess a different one from the Aquaman lore, despite the identical name) the king of a secret underwater-dwelling meso-american tribe rises up to force Wakanda into war.

After they take their sweet time, let’s be blunt, this one it’s almost 3 hours long, and boy you’ll feel it. It’s not even correct to say the movie it’s unnecessarily long, but it does take its time to set up various subplots and elaborate on the themes of legacy, inheritance and will that connect the Phase 4 Marvel movies together, as the characters deal with the emotional baggage left to them, which it’s fine but it feels like them ruminating/depending on the first movie to make you care this time too.

It’s the same issue plenty of these new Marvel movie have, and Wakanda Forever it’s no exception, arguably a little worse, which is a shame since the plot has some promise but never feels properly coherent, the cast it’s great, the villain is quite decent, but i found myself not really that invested in the new characters, the new kingdom and the new struggles Wakanda and its warriors face.

It’s a decent but unimpressive (and kinda bloated) sequel.

[EXPRESSO] Dampyr (2022) | Bonelli: The Masquerade

While i made clear i was very familiar with Dylan Dog’s source material in the review of Dylan Dog Dead Of Night, i can say quite the opposite for this new adaptation of an italian comic book series distribuited by Bonelli Editore, Dampyr, debutting at this year’s Lucca Comics & Games with renewed aspirations of a Bonelli MCU-thing.

So if you were looking for an in-depth review from a fan of the series, i’m not the guy this time, even if the situation it’s convenient for the sake of a more unbiased piece.

Set in the war torn Balkans during the early 1990s, Dampyr it’s about Harlan, a guy that manages to survive by posing as a dhampir (a half-human half-vampire hybrid in slavic folklore) for superstitious small villages, but it ends up dragged into the war as a unit of soldiers is attacked by vampires and Halan is brought there to help as a last resort. Little does he know he IS an actual dhampir, and the horrible dreams he constantly has are hints to his actual origins…

The vampire lore isn’t anything amazing but ain’t totally copy and pasted either, it has some inventions of its own (you can tell this was based on a comic book, regardless), acting by the international cast it’s fairly decent, the war-torn Balkans are a nicely bleak setting, production values aren’t shabby at all, the movie it’s definitely more than just “presentable”.

Overall, Dampyr it’s a fun, quite decent film, fairly entertaining but not much more, especially with some very cliched turns the story takes and the ouvert sequelbaiting. And the slightly confusing fact that two important characters basically look almost identical, like gothic vampire armored Alan Rickmans (or italian singer Renato Zero, for the “homies”) despite being played by different actors.

[EXPRESSO] Black Adam (2022) | Avenging The Stone

Dwayne Johnson first foray into actual superhero films happens to be in the DC Extended Universe, and it also happens to be very, very bad, but not for the reasons you’d think.

As in, i will argue that Morbius is still worse, but you could also counter with the premise of that movie having some potential, where in Black Adam there’s no effort put to anything, to the point where its way too generic, sharing the same symptoms seen in the regular cut of the Justice League movie, but actually worse, as the new group of heroes are blatant knock offs of Marvel’s roster (even if the characters themselves originally weren’t), with some straight up copying the Marvel’s shtick and mannerisms, when they don’t remind you of the X-Men.

Or the movie it’s just speedrunning every superhero movie cliches and recurrent flaws to the ground, with overly long exposition dumps, deranged abuse of slo-mo, predictable and unsatisfying narratives with the twists seen coming MILES away.

Do not forget a villain so lazy and boring you’ll pine for Justice League’s Steppenwolf.

The plot centers about the titular anti-hero Black Adam, an ancient egyptian man born slave than was bestowed incredible powers by the mage Shazam, and later sealed.

When he’s summoned back by a woman trying to stop a criminal empire, he unleashes his rage, prompting Amanda Waller to sick the Justice Society of superheroes to stop him, as he does not subscribe to the non-lethal kind of superhero combat.

The movie has some funny/cute scenes, and it tries to say something about the need for violence to fight the oppressors, etc, but as with everything in Black Adam, it’s mediocre at the very best, but always completely superficial and so generic it hurts. Even with Dwayne Johnson doing his thing.

[EXPRESSO] Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022) | Red Ribbon State

Gotta love the redundant title.

After debutting this summer in Japanese theathers, it finally received screenings here too, and i feel kinda sympathetic for this one, as it had to follow up on the new Broly movie with 3D CG style animation.

But “following up” isn’t quite the right way to put it, as Super Hero was actually written by Akira Toriyama himself, also curating the character design and came up with the story idea, so he’s surprisingly quite involved, instead of just approving concepts and little else.

So it makes sense for him to opt for a smaller story, to bring back the Red Ribbon army, as in a new faction that carries on their will and creates two new androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, calling themselves super heroes and then attacking Piccolo and Gohan….

to my surprise, the 3D CG styled animation it’s up to snuff, you know, being a theathrical full lenght release from Toei Animation and being a frigging Dragon Ball movie, it’s pretty good and i warmed up very quickly to the style chosen here, despite having some doubts from the early trailers.

The main issue is that while it deliberately focuses on a smaller scale story and brings backs a lot of old enemies, playing for nostalgic throwbacks and actually gets Gohan (whipped back into action by a really troubled Piccolo) involved into it…. i just wish they spent the screentime dedicated in remembering the audience this is canon to the Super anime series, well, developing better the new characters or the “superhero” angle that ultimately it’s just a – mostly – meatless hook leading to a bit more reharsh of old material than needed/necessary.

There are some pretty funny scenes, though, and overall it’s a decent movie, quite enjoyable, very entertaining indeed.

[EXPRESSO] Samaritan (2022) | Old Man Steel

Catching up to some of the later releases i didn’t cover yet, with the Amazon Prime Video exclusive Samaritan, as in Stallone wants to ride on the superhero train, and honestly why the fuck not?

I like this “i’m gonna make movies until i die on film” attitude, i really do.

The plot tells of a young boy, Sam, that believes the old guy living in front of him it’s actually Samaritan, a superhero thought to have died in an explosion 25 years ago, alongside his rival and brother, Nemesis, who planned to lure him and finally end it for good.

But there’s also a crime lord, Cyrus, who plans to become the new Nemesis, inherit his will, and Sam gets caught in his machinations while trying to score some cash for his mother…

It’s exactly what you’d think it would be, especially by factoring in Stallone as the lead character, and by that i mean it feels like a 90’s movie, in pretty much every aspect, from the setting of the city suburbs, the villain sporting a very 90s hairdo and personality (and a Robocop arcade machine in his lair), the lack of smarthphones, and of course the way the superhero elements are framed and used does remind one of older genre entries from that decade.

This isn’t a flaw, it’s just playing it “old school”, which means we can have a simpler story not overreliant on how many FX studios can you kill with crunch… albeit one where the twist it’s pretty easy to guess as the material will result very familiar, but not necessarily for the worst.

Decent cast, solid performances, fairly well produced (aside from one istance of that creepy digital deaging), overall Samaritan it’s a decent ol’ school superhero film and an enjoyable lil surprise.

[EXPRESSO] Thor: Love And Thunder (2022) | “Bi” from “Bifrost”

After being pleasantly surprised by Thor Ragnarok (which i quite liked), i was cautiously optimistic about this one, since we have Taika Waltiti back in the director chair, and two Thors, why not?

The plot sees Thor cruising the galaxy on a quest for his own inner peace, after basically handing to others his expected status and obligations of a god. But his hippish voyage for love and identity is cut short by an intergalactic killer known as “Gorr The God Butcher”, forcing the son of Odin to request the aid of Valkyrie and even his ex, Jane Foster, who now can wield the mighty Mjolnir as “Mighty Thor”, on an adventure to find out Gorr’s motives and stop him before he can bring his godslaying crusade to the next level.

More than previous installment, this one leans into the comedic aspect that ran through the Thor series to make it more distinct from Ragnarok, especially by “leaning” heavily into romantic comedy territory, and aside from a similar-esque scene, the movie feel like a continuation of the previous one but not a redo, and it manages to fully give Thor a proper character arc.

Problem is that tonal unconsistency rears its ugly head here, as the “eros and thanatos” combo never fully finds a proper balance, so while the film works, it does feel kinda disjointed and in turn it’s hard to fully engage with what’s going on, even if funny, entertaining or emotional. Some tired comedy beats and some (arguably inevitable) franchise fatigue only exacerbate things further.

A shame, because the villain it’s pretty decent, Waltiti flair is still in full force here, but i also can’t deny that Thor: Love And Thunder feels messy, at times unfocused and ultimately it’s decent fun but kinda disappointing and oddly forgettable.

[EXPRESSO] Doctor Strange in The Multiverse Madness (2022) | Mystics From NY

FIY: I’m one of those that didn’t watch Wandavision before heading into this for many reasons (including not really caring nor intending to pay or use Disney +), and i was right in assuming that i didn’t need to… as they give you just enough info to follow the plot of this movie without spoiling that show or anything. It’s a perfected science of its own at this point.

THAT out of the way, i was honestly looking forward to this one, having liked a lot the first Dr. Strange movie, and having Sam Raimi on board as director for the sequel did please me indeed.

The plot sees Dr. Strange deal further with the concept of the multiverse, as a girl with the power to travel to different parallel universes appears in NY being followed by an eldritch monster, sent by Wanda The Scarlet Witch to kidnap the girl. Helped by his fellow mystics and the new girl, Strange will have to find a way to stop Wanda while traversing various realities in the multiverse…

While it starts a bit ho-hum, it does “gear up” and delivers on the expected package of magic, mystical brawls, multiverse jumping (used for what could or could be not “cameos”, let’s just put it like that), wizard duels, and i’m glad Raimi was allowed – to the extent a Marvel movie will find comfortable – to lean more on the horror elements and how he likes to handle them, which helps this entry in standing out a bit more.

Overall, Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, does deliver on the title, it’s pretty fun, and it thankfully not bloated as some other Marvel movies in terms of runtime.

Nothing “great”, but i quite liked it.

Mileage might and will vary, as usual.

[EXPRESSO] Morbius (2022) | Dr. Acula, MD

The “Sony” side of the Marvel movies now moves from fairly popular and well know Venom to a lot more obscure one, Morbius. General audiences sure aren’t familiar with him, myself i barely know of him as a saw a high quality collectable statue as an upcoming item years ago.

Which is good, makes sense to make movie about lesser known characters from the huge roster of Marvel’s back catalogue (with beloved popular actor Jared Leto in the lead to also ensure huge turn-out) and this one if nothing else follows the trail of the two Venom movies, as in it’s an anti-hero, the doctor Michael Morbius, plagued by a rare blood disease and wanting to save everyone with his illness, Morbius takes a desperate gamble in a remote cave with bats.

What seems to be the long awaited cure turns out to be also a curse, as he start developing a craving for human blood and powers akin to a vampire bat.

If Venom was a reminder that superheroes movies could be sketchy but still entertain despite having a lot of problems, Morbius it’s a throwback to the early to mid-2000s era of the genre, as in, despite a lot of money in effects and a fun premise, they often turned out irremediably boring as shit, lifeless despite the fantastical elements, and a pile of hot garbage overall.

Formulaic, tiresome, boring everything, from plot to characters to themes, even the shitty fights way too overreliant on FXs (complete with an underwhelming final confrontation), Morbius has it all, takes itself seriously, and sequelbaits hard to boot.

You don’t always need to be good or perfect, but when everything it’s so shoddy, trite and not very interesting, at least you could be entertaining.

This is sadly just boring garbage. Pity. 😦

[EXPRESSO] The Batman (2022) | Nigma Notions

After fighting the dreaded villain known as COVID19-Man, Batman is back to the silver screen, now being played by Robert Pattinson in what it’s essentially another “reboot” of sorts, since the plot of The Batman goes back to basics, depicting the reasons why millionarie Bruce Wayne uses his wealth to moonlight as the masked vigilante of the “Batman”, his encounter with Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), and has him face the villain known as The Riddler.

The main difference is that this time Bruce Wayne’s past (including e his legacy as a Wayne) plays a bigger role, as we were lead to think by the trailers and promo materials, but thankfully this re-establishes the character without being an origin story, and depicts Batman as a more tragic and frail force of justice, as now his family’s legacy comes into play into the corrupt nature of Gotham itself.

The good: Gotham’s depiction is amazing, the brooding and even more dark tone is perfect, the mood overall it’s great and matches the more grounded approach (which of course reminds one of Nolan’s work on the caped crusader), the cast is stellar and giving out great performances, with Pattinson making for a really convincing and more obsessive Batman.

Shame that the narrative ultimately suffers not being as strong as it could, thanks in part to the kinda messy script that falls victim to overstuffing, with ¾ climaxes and the movie being pretty much 3 hours long. It’s not boring, actually it’s fairly captivating, but it feels like they crammed almost 2 scripts into 1 because superhero movies are expected to be very long these days.

I still recommend it, despite the aforementioned flawas, because it’s refreshing to a superhero movie done with vision in mind more than a spreedsheet of pre-made and rounded-edged lego blocks.