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.

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Ninety Nine Nights X360 [REVIEW] | #musoumay

In the 2000s, the Dynasty Warriors series (and most of its subseries) was not well received in western grounds, often maligned by people that never even gave the formula a real chance but eager to play them for 5 minutes, stop and write some half-baked “review”, because it was cool to bash musou games, and they’re a niche interest anyway, who cares.

But that didn’t stop various other company from having a go at the formula, often proclaiming that them alone knew how to “fix” musou games… and then churning out shit that only demonstrated how people genuinely misunderstood the formula and the appeal of these games, often thinking that they just needed to beef up the enemy IA… leading to crap like Spartan Total Warrior.

One of the “musou pretenders” from that era was definitely Ninety Nine Nights, or N3 because we’re cool like that, dawg. Drop the beets for the l33t.

A X-Box 360 exclusive launch title, developed by Q Entertaiment and Phantagram, Ninety Nine Nights also had a fairly rushed development cycle, which you can really tell from the story perspective. It’s the usual “Light VS Darkness” bullshit set in a medieval-ish looking world with all expected high fantasy races and tropes: goblin, trolls, orcs, dragons and all dat shit.

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Touken Ranbu Warriors NSWITCH [DEMO] [HANDS-ON] | Bishounen Sword Boys VS History Revisionists

Well, that was kinda unexpected, i genuinely though that editorial-ramble earlier this month would be the last time i talk about Touken Ranbu Warriors, but a week before release they also put out a demo on the European (and i guess other territories) eShop, so let’s give it a try.

And say some words. I do mean “some”; because there’s actually very little to say, and actually the bigger news is that the game is also coming to PC in the west, as a Steam release (since the DMM platform isn’t available outside of Japan), with a demo also available for that version. And that version will run in 60 fps, unlike the 30 fps locked Switch release.

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Berserk and The Band Of The Hawk PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay

Even if i reviewed (or re-reviewed, since i did already cover this one in 2017 on my older Italian blog) this one before of Miura’s passing, i would have told a tale of sadness, woe and disappointment.

But i won’t deny that with Kentaro Miura spiralling out of this mortail coil just over a year ago… there’s an extra serving of melancholy to the subject, which it’s ironically fitting in its own way.

As you would expect, there was some expectations at the time, even more since Koei Tecmo teased it and made a big deal about one this being one of more bloody and violent Warriors games ever…. and in hindsight it’s very telling, as they also did this lip service for Warriors Of Troy. Oh boy.

That aside, you would expect the Berserk musou to be pretty bloody and gory regardless, and it definitely delivered on that, can’t take it away from the game. I can though laugh at the fuckin localized english title they went with for this game, Berserk’s main character has a name, and a pretty not-generic one, you know?

He’s called Gatsu/Guts, just so you know.

Though that it’s not completely random, as the game starts from the Golden Age arc and covers up to the Hawk of the Millennium Empire Arc, with them boarding the ship after fighting Ganisha serving as the closing chapter.

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[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] 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.

Snowmageddon (2011) [REVIEW] | Promise (NOT featuring Kohmi Hirose)

If you’re like me, you don’t need to be told that there is a deluge of disaster movies up on Amazon Prime Video, often looking so easy to review that makes you feel bad, so low hanging and free (as in, included with Prime, i’m not paying extra subscription) the fruits of this “tree” are.

So i often end up browsing, looking at the description, just adding to the watchlist and moving on, forgot i’ve even added them, etc.

This one does break the mold and managed to make me kinda intrigued, as the premise made Snowmageddon (E- for the title, btw, it could have been way more stupidier and tortured) sounded very fuckin stupid, cheesy but slightly different.

And it’s still fairly cold here, so before springtime hits proper let’s indulge in more icy TV trash, the review for the Uncharted movie it’s coming later, so please, join me in this mystical garbage dive.

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[EXPRESSO] Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (2020) | Eternal Pyre

Fuck it, i’m reviewing this one as well, since it did eventually arrive just now in theathers here in Italy…. after being made available on Amazon Prime Video months earlier, but i’m willing to watch it again to support anime cinema releases, and to properly assess things further for a review.

Since the series it’s the more recent shonen manga success story, i doubt i need to introduce Demon Slayer/Kimetsu No Yaiba, even more since i feel its success lies in being pretty straightforward and easy to connect, as its set in a fantasy Japan of old, where demons lurk at night and feast on people, but are fought back by a secret order of samurai with mystical blades and techniques, the Demon Slayer Corps.

The protagonist, Tanjiro, becomes a Demon Slayer in hopes to undo the curse that made his sister Nezuko a demon, and along the way befriendes the cowardly lightining fast swordman Zenitsu, as well as Inosuke, a wild boy wearing a boar mask.

The plot revolves around the trio being tasked to – alongside an experienced demon slayer called Rengoku – embark a train and protect the people on it from eventual demon ambushes, and this isn’t an original story, a mostly disconnected one-off adventure, as most of these shonen anime movies are, but actually bridges the events of the first and second season, and has some important stuff happening in it, so i wouldn’t recommend jumping into this if you haven’t seen the first season (or red the equivalent manga chapters), for spoiler reasons.

That said, it can be watched fine on its own, and rewatching it made clear it’s a pretty good shonen manga film, with excellent animation from ufotable as expected, funny moments, good drama, likeable characters and intense fights with high stakes.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #12: Journey To The Beginning Of Time (1955)

It’s the final day of the 12 Days Of Dino Dicember, so let’s end it with a proper obscure gem, the Czech movie Journey To The Beginning Of Time. As in the original, not the re-cut, re-filmed version that reached US territories in 1966 under the same name.

Today thankfully you can watch it as it was released on a region-free Blu Ray by Second Run, which also includes the English version, but i’m not gonna bother with that for now. Sorry, but i simply can’t afford the time to watch that as well and compare the two.

This comes from Karel Zeman (no, not the soccer manager), nicknamed the “Czech Melies”, famous for his fantasy films combining live action and animation, and hugely influential, not surprising to fellow czech Jan Svankmajer (you can’t imagine how happy i am by just having the occasion of nominating him in any of these reviews, retrospectives, but beloved by many american directors, like Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, and serving as inspiration to Jurassic Park itself.

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Extinction PS4 [REVIEW] | Mockbust On Titan

Remember this one? Most likely not, i don’t blame you if you didn’t even out this was out when it released in 2018, at least until it entered – deservedly so – that year’s “Top 10 Worst Games” list, only to immediatly fade into the miasma of obscurity, where it should really remain.

But since i like raising the dead for a laugh and try to make people remember the lessons of old, in the hope there will be something to learn and so avoid wasting money on stuff that was launched on the market to no fanfare. And if it nothing else, it’s fun to reignite some old dumpster fires.

In the case of Extinction, the main takeaway is that you shouldn’t be afraid of anything you wanna put out on the market, not because you should dump whatever garbage you want, but because it’s hard to say you shouldn’t do what you want, as games like these somehow managed not only to get released, but to get the full boxed retail and “multiple tiers editions” treatment.

Be bold, ye children of the Yellow Turbans, i guess this is the takeway. Don’t be garbage.

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