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‘Tekken #2′ Review

23 June 2017 10:01 AM, PDT

Written by Cavan Scott | Art by Andie Tong | Pubished by Titan Comics

Tekken #1 ran the entire gauntlet of expectations and missed opportunities. There was a whole ton of nifty ideas floating around, but very little focus and very little flow to the story. A pretty complicated back story (good) gave way to many pages of mostly fighting (bad) which, to be fair, may be what we should expect from Tekken anyway. Last issue was essentially a long set up for the return of Jin Kazama, who had been missing, and his recruiting of several top fighters to help him to retrieve an artifact currently held in the Zaibatsu Corporation archives. Just to complicate matters, he is also trying to avoid both his father Kazuya, head of G Corporation, and his grandfather Heihachi Mishima, neither of whom are going to win any Fathers Day awards.

This issue kicks off with a serious, deep discussion about philoso…..nah, of course it doesn’t. It kicks off with kicks. And punches. Lots of them. Kazua Mishima and his followers have found Jin’s base, and Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix, Ling Xiaoyu, Yoshimitsu and Panda are doing their best to fight them off. The only one not fighting is Jin, which is confusing to everyone. Even when provoked he refuses. On the outside that is, as he is most definitely fighting inside and trying to suppress the demonic part of himself. Nina decides better to retreat for now, and Jin is taken to a helicopter where the team narrowly escape. Nina blowing up the base as they leave obviously helps.

As the team escape, anger focuses on Jin. Why did he not fight? why did he not help? He finally breaks down and admits that every time he uses his abilities the demonic side of him gets stronger, and he is worried it will take him over completely. Not good for him, and certainly not good for the world. While Jin struggles on, the team arrive at Usiyi Island, ready to infiltrate the archive. Infiltration may be too generous a word, as pretty quickly the strike team are discovered and in rather a spot of bother.

Tekken #2 again a pretty speedy read, but definitely a fun one. The expected fisticuffs were in there, but so was a bit more character depth than last issue. Cavan Scott touched on the themes of family, hinting there was not just a connection of hatred from Kazua towards his son Jin, but something bordering on caring, or at least worry. We got a feel for what it must be like to be Jin. A family constantly at war, and himself a psyche at war, his human self permanently in conflict with his demon self. There was some fun dialogue in there too, Paul Phoenix is always good value.

The visuals are again very good, giving you the feel of the game and characters. The art is a little less brash this issue than last, though the fighting panels have a real sense of energy and movement about them. The art in general gives the impression of motion, of characters and events constantly moving. Some very nice splash pages and wonky panels add to that feeling too, as does the characters poses and movement. At times it does feel like a fighting game, though not one too worried about letting over writing spoil anything. The art channels the spirit of the game, and you can’t ask for more than that.

Another solid issue, building on the moderate success of last issue and ensuring a more coherent plot is to the fore too. The creative folks seems to be having a great time. So it’s Game Over for this month, but more than happy to press Continue and seeing what develops next month. (Thank God I don’t need a stack of shiny 50 pence pieces any more).

***½  3.5/5 »

- Dean Fuller

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‘The Defenders #1′ Review

23 June 2017 9:01 AM, PDT

Written by Brian Michael Bendis | Art by David Marquez | Published by Marvel Comics

Marvel can seemingly never get their timing right when it comes to the Netflix series obvious tie-ins. Recently both the Luke Cage and Jessica Jones solo series came out long after their Netflix shows debuted, and now Defenders is being released months before the show hits. Clearly Marvel is hoping this will allow for the first trade to be released right around the time people first start watching the show. Knowing Marvel’s uncanny knack for delays who knows if that will actually happen.

This Defender’s universe has slowly been building throughout this year. Daredevil and Jessica Jones had their books deep in their run and then this year we got the debuts of Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Bullseye, Electra, Kingpin, and now finally The Defenders. Not all these books will directly tie to one another but do help in shaping the more grounded street level side of the Marvel universe.

Tonally this has the most in common with Brian Michael Bendis’s current Jessica Jones series. It does not carry the mature label but it is delving into some more adult topics like drugs and gang level violence. Clearly, they were attempting to recapture much of what made the Netflix shwos such a popular and critical success.

As often is the case with number one issues for team books this is your standard version of getting the band back together. Diamondback is back from the dead and reeking havoc on the city streets. Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones have found out Diamondback has returned the hard way as each was attacked in broad daylight. Concerned with how daring these attacks are they all team up to track down Diamondback before he gets the chance to strike again.

There are certain characters Brian Michael Bendis was born to write and nearly all of them are in this series. I know many have grown tired of his style, and Marvel did put him on way too many series. His name may not mean what it once did for a book, but he has been kicking some major butt this past year. Jessica Jones and Iron Man have been two of Marvel’s best titles and this adds another to his growing list of great books. All these characters already have an established familiarity with one another so all Bendis had to do was restart that button. The book is not without its faults. Giving Diamondback a calling card of leaving diamonds on his victims is unnecessarily cheesy and out of place. There is a chance it is a move that has greater meaning, currently it feels like something a generic James Bond villain would do.

When David Marquez was told he was drawing this book Marvel defiantly advised him to be heavily influenced by the Netflix series. He avoids the sin of photo referencing as characters like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones resemble their current real life counterparts without looking like photo recreations. The character introductions were fantastic as each was given their own title card when they first appeared on screen. Maybe it is a little on the nose but it made the appearance of each character feel super important and I could see blowing up each of those panels to make some great looking posters.

Sometimes a book just feels right and that is the case with The Defenders. My excitement for The Defenders Netflix series took a hit due to the failure of Iron Fist. Reading this though I can see the amazing potential a story can have when these characters come together. Hopefully whoever is making that show was given this comic with the straightforward direction of ‘Do This’, because this is the type of story that could work in any medium.

**** 4/5 »

- Dan Clark

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‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

23 June 2017 8:01 AM, PDT

Stars: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco | Written and Directed by Dario Argento

When you hear the name Dario Argento you know what to expect. In many ways, he is the gateway director to Italian horror, and with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage we see his debut into directing. While not his best work, it set many precedents for the Argento style…

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer finds himself witnessing a murder while on a trip to Italy. Unable to help the victim of the attack, luckily, the victim manages to survive. In the following days though Sam finds himself stalked by the killer, who he in parallel becomes obsessed with.

While I do like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, I do find that Deep Red is his superior film which follows a similar narrative. What we have with Plumage though is an Argento film which has differences from certain traits the director has. One thing that doesn’t change of course is the fact that this is a Giallo. The mystery killer in the dark coat, the black gloves and the obsession with killing with knives is all in place. While the ending may not be what is expected, Argento is a director and writer who often gives a successful twist. In The Bird with the Crystal Plumage he gives one of his most memorable, and that is created through the museum scene.

In putting Sam in a boxed off glass room of the art gallery entrance, unable to get out to get help and unable to get into the museum itself he is left helpless, forced into being a voyeur to the murder. It is in this situation that the clues are put into place for what is a memorable ending.  It is also interesting that the revelation is much similar to Deep Red in that it is interpretation and the memory of the crime scene that leads to the reveal of the killer.

A big difference to Argento’s later work is that the music for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is done by Ennio Morricone. While I am a fan of Goblin who you usually think of when it comes to Argento, Morricone’s music is still very good, and fans of Quentin Tarantino will recognise the main theme. In fact, they’ll also see that Tarantino was paying homage to the opening of this movie in Death Proof.

Looking past the film itself and looking at the special features included with the Arrow Video release, there is an impressive list of interviews, as well as looks at the Giallo in relation to Argento’s work. The interviews with Argento himself are the highlight, but the interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp) is a very nice addition. He may have only had a bit-part in the film, but his performance was memorable enough to stick in people’s minds.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a solid release, especially for lovers of Dario Argento’s work. Not only his directorial debut, it set the scene for many of his future hits and featured one of the most memorable scenes with the art gallery scene. Deep Red may be better, but this is a necessary inclusion into any horror fans collections.

***** 5/5

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is available on Limited Edition Arrow Video Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek »

- Paul Metcalf

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‘Star Wars: Darth Vader #1′ Review

23 June 2017 7:01 AM, PDT

Written by Charles Soule | Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli | Published by Marvel Comics

When the previous Darth Vader series ended it was somewhat of a surprise. Story wise it made sense however it is not common for Marvel to stop a series that is so finically successful. Of course, it was only a matter of time until it returned as now we are seeing a new team take over the character. Charles Soule brings the book back to the very beginning as this opens in the famous final moments of ‘Revenge of the Sith with everyone’s favorite ‘Noo!!” cry. Perhaps Soule wanted to start as a down note to lower expectations from the start.

Kieron Gillen made the previous series work by building a strong supporting class around Darth Vader. Vader may be the most famous villain in movie history, but in all honesty, he is not the most dynamic character in the world. The more you see of him the less effective he works as a character. He is like the shark in Jaws.  The possibility of his presence is enough to capture emotion and propel excitement. What Charles Soule is doing with this series is asking how exactly did he get to that point.

Here Vader does not even have his trusty lightsaber. Quickly though we see Vader does not need his toys to be a major threat. This leads to a first issue that works well as a piece of entertainment. Those who prefer their Vader being a badass will get their wish. Looking at the general story there is not much there. It was basically the first level of a video game that is specifically designed to allow you to learn the moves. Now that Soule has gotten some practice he can hopefully move to some more complex maneuvers in future issues.

Thankfully Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art stays away from the photo referencing that has plagued these Star Wars books in the past. His Emperor may look a little strange, but outside of that, it is a gorgeous looking book. The Star Wars comics look best when you have high-quality cartooning that is not attempting to simply recreate actors faces. By default, when Darth Vader is your main character you avoid that issue without much effort. We are finally finding out how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. The only question is if that is a story worth telling.

***½  3.5/5

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 is out now from Marvel Comics »

- Dan Clark

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‘Galaxy of Horrors’ DVD Review

23 June 2017 6:01 AM, PDT

Stars: Olli Banjo, Adam Buller, Michelle Colao, Greg Engbrecht, Elle Gabriel, Francesc Garrido, Alias Hilsum, Charles Hubbell, Rob Kerkovich, Vin Kridakorn, Mathis Landwehr, Claire Oelkers, Julio Perillán, Fabio Prati, Luke Sorge | Directed by Dennis Cabella, Javier Chillon, Todd Cobery, Andrew Desmond, Benni Diez, Marcello Ercole, Richard Karpala, Justin McConnell, Antonio Padovan, Fabio Prati, Ethan Shaftel, Marinko Spahic

Much like Dread Central’s Zombieworld,which brought together a number of short films under one banner to create an all-new anthology film, Galaxy of Horrors is a selection of eight shorts, curated from Rue Morgue and Unstable Ground’s Little Terrors Festival by Toronto film programmer Justin McConnell, all wrapped up in the story of a man trapped in a damaged cryogenic pod.

This wraparound segment that sees and astronaut awoken from his cryogenic slimber too soon and forced to watch a series of shorts while the power supply drains away Becasue he’s watching these shorts… Yes, for our astronaut the terror-filled tales are terrifying not only because of their content but because they’re literlly killing him! Of the short films the astronaut (and we the audience) watch there are a number of standouts: Iris, directed by Richard Karpala, which tells the story of a siri-like phone assistant with a conscience when her owner, an assassin, does not. It’s a great take on how technology and humans interact and how far that realtionship with technology could, possibly (more likely imporbably), go.

Pathos, directed by Fabio Prati, Dennis Cabella and Marcello Ercole, is a foreign-language entry which is easily the best – and most memorable (it’s the one short that  vividly stuck in my mind waaay after I’d finished watching the film) and tells the story of a future where citizens must pay -literally – to be alive and experience a “life” outside of the odd chamber in which our protagonist’s “exists” – yes his reality, his very existence, is all in his head! This short is yet another look at how humans and technology interact, in this case taking the ideas of alternate realities and how humanity perceives reality, borne out of the likes of The Matrix, to their logical and more importantly, horrific extreme.

Special mention must also go to Antonio Padovan‘s short Eveless, which sees men try to keep the worlds population going without women; and Benni Diez and Marinko Spahic‘s kinetic action/horror hybrid Kingz – which recalls the best of horror anthology V/H/S whilst staying true to its own badass terror-filled ethos.

Whilst the eight shorts tell very different stories, there is a common thread running between them – they’re all damn good films! Unlike a alot of anthologies that have one or two dud amongst their number, each and every short in Galaxy of Horrors hits it out of the park: all eight tales having interesting sci-fi stories to tell and cool concepts to portray. Plus it’s nice to see sci-fi horror in the spotlight once more…

Galaxy of Horrors is out now on DVD from StudioCanal. »

- Phil Wheat

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‘Action Comics #981′ & ‘Green Lantern Corps #22′ Review

23 June 2017 4:01 AM, PDT

Action Comics #981

Written by Dan Jurgens | Art by Jackson Herbert | Published by DC Comics

Superman haters often complain that it is impossible to construct a compelling story because he is just so powerful. How can you have stakes when your hero can do just about anything? Well with this arc Dan Jurgens’s answer to that is to create a team of three separate Superman villains in Cyborb Superman, The Eradicator, and General Zod, all of which nearly took him out on their own previously. Honestly, that is a pretty good answer.

In a way, this Revenge arc is a mini event that ties in elements from the Superman series as well as Suicide Squad. Now all these pieces that were once separate, like Amanda Waller taking control of Zod for her own personal goals, are all coming together in this storyline. As Superman faces off against these three individuals the world watches as the Man of Steel is perhaps for the first time over his head due to the foes he is facing. Adding to the pile of awfulness is the trip he took to the Black Vault that has left him in a state of disarray. What is revealed by the end of this issue does come off as a silly direction to go, but since Rebirth Jurgens has made Superman stories that should not work actually work. Plus it appears Superman will be getting some much-needed help next issue from some of his super allies as well.

Jackson Herbert’s art works as it fits into the typical DC house style we have seen with this series and other main DC books. One issue is his depiction of Zod lacks any consistency. Depending on the panel his age tends to fluctuate. Minus that small gripe he gets the job done.

Action Comics has been hit or miss with its different arcs and so far Revenge is turning out to be a major hit. One full of big adventure with the type of world-ending stakes you want in an Action Comics story.

**** 4/5

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #22

Written by Robert Venditti | Art by Ethan Van Sciver | Published by DC Comics

Now that Yellow and Green Lanterns have established an uneasy alliance issue twenty-two is the first major test of their truce. The Planet Vault is being robbed and it is up to the Lanterns to stop it and save the day. Robert Venditti made the right choice by not making their first test some sort of universal disaster as the Lanterns deal with this threat rather easily. By doing this Venditti can allow this trust to build until it eventually implodes.

Hal Jordan shows his hand as it is clear he is not fully trusting of the Yellow Lanterns. He clearly is looking for any reason to break the truce and is still not fully willing to buy into this new status quo. Venditti also gave a great little moment with Jon Stewart as he shows some out of character excitement. Seeing Stewart quietly cheering to himself, “I did it” provided a welcome laugh out loud moment.

Ethan Van Sciver returns to art and how I wish he was on this book full-time. His facial designs have so much detail and paneling allows to book to flow very smoothly. This was one of the quickest reads I have had with this series, although I did make sure to go back and just soak in some of his art more.

It was a welcome to see these Lanterns facing off against more than themselves. The differing color Lanterns idea has become stale at this point so anytime the focus is on a different villain it is a breath a fresh air.

***½  3.5/5 »

- Dan Clark

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Cinema Geeks: Episode 138 – Summer Blockbusters

23 June 2017 2:01 AM, PDT

Here’s the latest episode of the Cinema Geeks podcast, part of the ever-growing podcast roster here on Nerdly. If you haven’t heard the show yet, you can check out previous episodes right here, whilst we’ll be featuring each and every new episode as it premieres.

Episode 138 – Summer Blockbusters

Today on Episode 138 of the Cinema Geeks, Optimus Solo and MovieRevolt Dan try to build the perfect Summer Blockbuster Festival. They each get five picks from five different genres and then turn it over to you to decide which festival you would attend. You can only attend one. Want to know which five films the Geeks settled on? Tune in to find out with another episode of the Cinema Geeks! »

- Phil Wheat

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Nintendo’s 2017/18 3Ds line-up looks amazing!

22 June 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

With the E3 video game conference in the rear-view mirror, Nintendo is now looking ahead to all the great games coming to Nintendo 3Ds family systems this year and early 2018. This includes games in some of Nintendo’s most popular and long-running franchises, including Metroid: Samus Returns, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, Pokémon Ultra Sun, Pokémon Ultra Moon, and Hey! Pikmin.

Highlights include: Metroid: Samus Returns: A modern reimagining of the 1992 Game Boy adventure Metroid II: Return of Samus, Metroid: Samus Returns for Nintendo 3Ds features an enhanced arsenal for bounty hunter Samus Aran, new moves and abilities, and a redesigned map. The game launches on 15th September alongside two new Metroid series amiibo: Samus Aran and Metroid. While supplies last, fans will also be able to purchase the Legacy Edition of the game which includes a physical version of the game, a Metroid II: Return of Samus download code for Nintendo 3Ds, an old-style SteelBook®, the Samus Archive sound-selection CD featuring 25 tracks from across the Metroid series, a gold “S” Mark pin, a Morph Ball 3D keyring and a 40-page artbook. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions: This enhanced remake of the first game in the Mario & Luigi series contains updated visuals, touch-screen controls and helpful game-play upgrades. Newly added side story Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser, stars many of Bowser’s familiar right-hand enemies. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions launches on 6th October. Two new amiibo figures will also be released on the same day: Goomba and Koopa Troopa. Pokémon Ultra Sun & Pokémon Ultra Moon: With new story additions, new Pokémon and enhanced features, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon offer a fresh adventure through the tropical Alola region. The games launch on 17th November. Ever Oasis: This beautiful and mystical role-playing action-adventure game from Koichi Ishii, the creator of the Mana series, launches on 23rd June. In between exploring the desert and conquering puzzling dungeons, players can build up their own personal oasis. Players can try Ever Oasis right now by visiting the Nintendo eShop and downloading a playable demo*. Visit our YouTube channel to watch the Ever Oasis launch trailer. Hey! Pikmin: In this new type of Pikmin game, players are tasked with throwing all types of different Pikmin using the Touch Screen to solve puzzles, overcome challenges and defeat enemies through a side-scrolling adventure. Hey! Pikmin launches exclusively for the Nintendo 3Ds family of systems on 28th July, the same day as the New Nintendo 2Ds Xl system and a new Pikmin amiibo figure (both sold separately). A playable demo* is now available to download by visiting the Nintendo eShop. Visit our YouTube channel to watch the Hey! Pikmin demo trailer. Miitopia: Calling all Tomodachis! A dark lord is stealing the faces of everybody in the world of Miitopia, and it’s up to brave players to bring them back in this adventure sim launching on 28th July, the same day as the New Nintendo 2Ds Xl arrives in Europe. Monster Hunter Stories: Prepare to embark on an RPG adventure unlike anything the Monster Hunter series has ever known. In Monster Hunter Stories, become a rider and bond with monsters to raise their potential and unleash powerful combos. Players can fly, swim and crash into new areas of the map; discover eggs to collect and hatch; and participate in turn-based battles with a party of up to five monsters. Monster Hunter Stories launches on 8th September. Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth: Starting with the creation of a party to exploring the uncharted labyrinth of the Yggdrasil Tree, Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is all about players choosing how their adventures unfold. The fifth main instalment in the loved RPG series contains the epic turn-based battles, challenging exploration, and beautiful art styles fans have come to love. Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth launches this autumn. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology: The original Radiant Historia on Nintendo DS is a beloved RPG classic. In this expanded version of the game, players will experience new story content, enhanced gameplay and an updated presentation. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology launches in early 2018. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux: When Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey returns on Nintendo 3Ds, expect it to do so with new story content, additional endings, a new dungeon to explore and more fun surprises. This enhanced version of the essential RPG launches for Nintendo 3Ds in early 2018. Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused?: Prepare to train your brain by completing a series of challenging exercises with an emphasis on concentration skills and focus to train your working memory. Challenge your abilities to focus with eight Devilish Training exercises that’ll push you to the limit, or play against your friends and family, when the game launches on 28th July

So what new Nintendo titles in this list are you looking forward to the most? Are there any other Nintendo titles you’re more excited for? »

- Phil Wheat

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Graphic Novel Review: ‘Ravina the Witch?’

22 June 2017 10:01 AM, PDT

Written by Junko Mizuno | Art by Junko Mizuno | Published by Titan Comics

A bewitching and beautiful tale of an orphan girl who was raised by crows in a trash heap. One day, a dying witch gifts her with a mysterious magic wand and her life changes forever! Now, the human world is hers to play with… Or will this land of fear and corruption prove too much for the fledgling witch? In a time of witch hunts, Ravina must have her wits about her!

I’ll admit, when I first glanced at a page of Ravina the Witch? the layout put me off. The art choice was different to what I usually read, so I moved it further down my ‘to review’ list and read something else instead.

I feel bad. Never again will I judge a book so harshly without giving it a chance. I came back to Ravina the Witch? today and, luckily, my initial reaction was proven wrong.

Ravina, written and drawn by Junko Mizuno, is a strange story that, like any good fairy tale, will stay with you after you have finished. My initial judgement that it was childlike was…well… half right. It’s written in a childlike way, possibly to mimic the fairy tale style it is going for, but readers will very quickly realise that this is not a story for children. Laden with dark themes and light erotica, this fairy tale is very much closer to original Brothers Grimm than their shiny, Disney remakes.

The art, like the story in Ravina, has its own special flavour. As previously mentioned, it put me off at first, but the blending of light colours and darkness soon pulled me in. Add this with the tone and flowery patterns and Ravina is set apart from the rest. Mizuno has also opted for a more traditional, story-book style of telling the story, through paragraphs under or between the panels, which put me off at first glance. If you’re looking for speech bubbles and captions, look elsewhere. You shall not find them here.

Ironically, the one of things I praised earlier is also one of the biggest problems I have with Ravina. The blend of childlike language and the inclusion of erotic and very adult elements left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. I know this won’t bother everyone, but for me I was unsure how to react to what I was reading. Now that I’ve written that down, it occurs to me that maybe that was its intention. Maybe the whole point was to make the reader feel uncomfortable with the subject matter at hand. The strange and uncomfortable world of Ravina.

This dark, erotic fairy tale is a strange tale of magic and adventure. Looking for something a bit different, yet beautifully dark to add to your collection? Ravina the Witch? might be for you.

**** 4/5 »

- Richard Axtell

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‘Baby Driver’ Review

22 June 2017 9:01 AM, PDT

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Space, John Hamm, Jamie Foxx | Written and Directed by Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright’s return to American moviemaking is a more earnest and coherent foray than 2010’s Scott Pilgrim, and it’s a blast of pure positive energy after the relatively dour The World’s End. It opens with the eponymous Baby (Ansel Elgort) rocking in his car to The John Spencer Blues Explosion, and it never stops dancing.

Baby is a guy with a permanent Tony Manero swagger. He’s under the wing of gangster boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), who’s both a mentor and gaoler. But Baby has almost paid off his debt and he’s approaching the “one last job” cliché, after which he hopes to hit the road and leave his Atlanta life behind.

Then Baby meets a beautiful waitress, Debora (Lily James). They quickly fall in love. However, the freeway out of the crime world is not clear. Doc needs Baby for yet another last job, working alongside the hyper-macho Buddy (John Hamm) and his scheming girlfriend Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and the batshit crazy Bats (Jamie Foxx).

Can Baby finish his getaway driver stint and find freedom and a future with Debora? Or is he on a road to oblivion?

Life is a playlist for Baby. A childhood accident left him with tinnitus, and now he drowns out the whining through the power of the iPod, wearing earbuds 23 hours a day and moving to the thrum of the music. (He even samples real-world conversations and mixes them into bad hip-hop.) Wright’s penchant for rhythmic editing has reached its natural zenith, and it’s exhilarating.  The British auteur has compiled a soundtrack – and frankly a narrative brevity – of which Tarantino can only dream. And it’s not just the music but the sound design, which is astonishingly detailed and well-choreographed, whether it’s the percussive crack of gunfire, the sad ring of tinnitus, or the intimate singing of wine glasses.

The marketing may have overtones of classic car capers like Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway or Walter Hill’s The Driver, but really Baby Driver is a mashup of the last few decades of modern action movies. It takes in the muscular physicality and mute cool of the ‘70s; the efficiency and the gaudy aesthetic of the ‘80s and ‘90s; and in its hero shaped by formative tragedy, even includes some of the comic book sensibility of the new century. It also feels like the greatest Grand Theft Auto movie never made. (If only Baby could learn from GTA that sometimes the best way to evade the cops is to stay still until the heat is off.)

Elgort is charming and tragic in a way that he totally wasn’t in The Fault in Our Stars, and he has a great chemistry with James, who pulls off blue collar Georgian with effortless aplomb. In supporting roles, Spacey brings gravitas and grades of grey to his deadpan mobster, while Foxx is genuinely funny and menacing.

But Hamm is the real psychotic of the troupe. Unlike Bats, Buddy comes in the guise of a friend, before finally actualising his rage and cruelty. It’s disappointing that the final showdown descends into a mindless macho wrestle, but the storytelling is movingly redeemed in the epilogue.

As ever, Wright is constantly imaginative in deploying his action beats and setpieces. For him, it’s not enough to give us a scuzzy warehouse gun deal, so he delivers it as if a group of bankers are being presented with a fine dining experience. Wright gleefully toys with our expectations throughout, whether it means building to the ultimate car chase, only to show us a foot race; giving us musical intros we think we know but we don’t; or inverting the mentor role by making the kid the carer.

A very welcome stem of morality runs through the movie. It is made abundantly – perhaps excessively – clear that Baby is a boy with a good heart, a million miles from the French Connection-type antihero. Yet, ever the optimist, Wright’s fable is as much a reflection of the countercultural mood of its time as any film from the Nixon era. He is right-on when he proposes that real heroism in the modern age is in decency, accountability and humility – an implicit indictment, perhaps, of today’s prevailing political bleakness.

What a rush this movie is, and what a work of authorship. Employing style in the service of soulfulness, Baby Driver is like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive shot through with the sensibility of a Hollywood musical. It’s absolutely an Edgar Wright joint and it’s an absolute joy, and if it isn’t on my end-of-year best-of list then I’ll eat my driving gloves.

Baby Driver is out in cinemas on 28th June 2017. »

- Rupert Harvey

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‘Flintstones #12′ Review

22 June 2017 8:01 AM, PDT

Written by Mark Russell | Art by Steve Pugh | Published by DC Comics

It is safe to say that The Flintstones will go down as one of the biggest pleasant surprises in the history of comics. When the first promo images were released for this along with the other Hanna Barbera series the majority of the world scoffed at the very idea of this project. While the other series like Scooby Doo Apocalypse have left a lot to be desired, Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s Flintstones has been one of the best comics since its debut. It is a series that will only grow in notoriety as more people learn about its brilliance.

Issue twelve is a bittersweet moment as it marks the end of this fantastic book. Not wanting over extend this idea is admirable, but still, it is hard to let something so consistently good go. In reality the sharp social and political commentary that makes The Flintstones what it is could only last so long. Rarely do comics or really any form of entertainment end before there is a sharp dip in quality. Part of being a great creator is knowing when to move on to something new.

This issue works as a wrap-up of some of the major stories that have been building during these past twelve issues. A testament to the power of this series is how it crafted one of the most fulfilling narratives around a bowling ball and his relationship with a vacuum cleaner. Objects that were just cheap gags in the original cartoon where the heart and soul of this series, which ties into one of the biggest surprises of this last installment. For a series that was mighty critical of the human race and our society, this had a much more upbeat and optimistic outlook.

During the issue The Great Gazoo is giving his assessment on humanity and its downfalls but why there is reason to be hopeful. Within that framework we see Bam Bam and Pebbles attempting to better understand the conflict between science and religion. The result is one of the best explanation for the need for religion I have read. One that is not critical nor ignorant to its problems. The Church of Gerald has been a consistent source of humor but here it became something more.

Steve Pugh also needs to be praised for his work. No one else could have made this book except for him. That look that many people criticized at first was key in making the tone perfect. If this looked too cartoony it would not nearly be as effective and if it was too realistic it the irony would be absent. I truly hope these two work on so much more in the future.

If you are still hesitant to read this series get over that as quickly as possible. Go back to issue one and get ready to experience twelve issues of genius. This final issue may not be the best one so far but it is a fitting end to a special book. I can safely say we will never see a book like this ever again.

*****½  4.5/5 »

- Dan Clark

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Trek to the Past – Star Trek: Tos Season Two in Review

22 June 2017 7:01 AM, PDT

Star Trek is probably the most successful science fiction franchise of all time spanning six decades of science fiction storytelling. In the series, I will be looking at the highlights of all the past episodes from each season of all five TV shows that went before leading up to the new series Star Trek: Discovery that will be airing in the fall of 2017.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two

Development

The ratings for the first season of Star Trek were low which, in previous years, would have seen the series cancelled straight away, but NBC decided to renew the series for a second season – mainly because it appealed to a younger audience. The series was given an episode order of 26 episodes, which in future years became the average number for an episode order of Star Trek.

There were a few changes in the Season 2: like cast member Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Janice Rand quit the show due to personal reasons; they introduced a new character called Ensign Chekov, who was brought in to appeal to the younger audience and he had a very Beatles like hairpiece in his early episodes – as this season progressed they got rid of the hairpiece and let him have his own hair(!); and also they added DeForest Kelley (McCoy) to the opening credits which made him the third lead character in the series from that point on.

The character of Mr Spock became a breakout character and a sex symbol after the first season had aired, and in this season there were many episodes centred around Spock – such as the seasons opening episode ‘Amok Time’ which was set on his home planet Vulcan and where Kirk and Spock have to fight to death.

Writers

Some of the writers from the first year returned to write scripts for the second year – including as Gene L. Coon and D. C Fontana. They were joined by new writers such as John Merdyth Lucas, Robert Sabaroff and John Kingsbridge who wrote some classic episodes of this season, like ‘Patterns of Force’ which had that common theme in the original series of Star Trek where they beam onto a planet that represents an alien society ;in the context of earth history like in this episode it represents Nazi Germany in the 1930s. There were many episodes like that in this season, another being ‘A Piece of the Action’ which represents an alien society in 1920s gangster culture. Another standout episode in this season was ‘Mirror Mirror’ where members of the Enterprise crew were transported on an alternative Enterprise. This episode famously had a badass Mr Spock with a beard and the crew kill each other to move up in rank.

Top 5 Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season Two

5) The Gamester of Triskelion

In this episode Captain Kirk and his companion are kidnapped into slavery and trained to become gladiators. It’s a real “starter episode” if you want to get into the original series; and your always wondering how Kirk and crew are going to get out of this one. It’s one of the many cliché episodes where they have a lot of stylized fight scenes and Kirk gets the girl. But overall it’s a little bit of fun.

4) A Private Little War

In this episode the crew of the Enterprise see the interference of a once peaceful planet from the Klingon Empire. It’s another one that tackles a social issue of the time, which is the Vietnam War, which was at it’s height in 1968 when this episode aired. It’s an episode I have always enjoyed – even if it’s flawed somewhat.

3) The Doomsday Machine

The Enterprise has discovered a planet destroying weapon and a Commodore that puts the crew of the Enterprise in danger, in crazy mission of revenge. This is one of most popular episodes of the original series. The highlight of the episode is the performance of William Windom, who played the vengeful Commodore Matt Decker, and his obsession of wanting to destroy the planet destroying weapon The Doomsday Machine.

2) Mirror Mirror

First of many “Mirror Universe” episodes and I think this is still the best – come on who doesn’t like seeing the crew of the enterprise being bad to the bone for one episode? Plus Spock has a beard and is being as bad ass as ever!

1) Amok Time

I’m sure you saw this one coming… could it really be any other episode? What’s not to love about this episode and visiting Spock’s home planet and watching Kirk and Spock fight to the death? And that brilliant ending where you see Spock almost being human. »

- James Morrell

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‘Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3.4′ Review

22 June 2017 6:01 AM, PDT

Written by George Mann | Art by Mariano Laclaustra | Published by Titan Comics

Before I get going on the actual review, a quick mention for the fantastic covers that the Who titles have. All issues have multiple covers, ranging from photo covers, to fully painted, to cartoony. Once upon a time multiple covers were intended to suck investors into buying several copies of the same issue, but now they offer a different flavour to any and all buyers. Fans of comics probably go for the painted/ cartoony covers, fans of the TV show the photo covers. The painted cover this month, by Simon Myers (pictured above), is rather fab I must say. But I digress.

George Mann and Mariano Maclaustra return for the concluding part of the rather fun, vintage feeling ‘Beneath the Waves’. The Doctor and space punk Hattie have not really been enjoying 1979 Seaton Bay, despite the awesome fish and chips, due to the arrival of strange seaweed creatures with a nice line in psychic attacks. After the normal shenanigans, The Doctor gives himself up to be taken by these creatures, so as to avoid any further attacks on the town and the people. Good for the town, not so good for The Doctor as he is dragged underneath the waves into the sea. This issue could be a very short review.

As The Doctor disappears, Hattie of course is having none of that. She finds a diving suit and suits up, a little too naturally for a future space punk if you ask me, and dives in after the seaweed creatures. We then have a several page under the sea text less sequence, as Hattie fights off the seaweed creature, finds The Doctor, with a handy air breather attached, and they mutually rescue each other. Great sequence, culminating in a powerful psychic blast seemingly showing these creatures are lost and just want to go home, a frequent Who trope.

The Doctor now realises that a spaceship crash landed millions of years ago, with its occupant in hyper-sleep, and had been at the bottom of the Bay. Recent cliff movements had caused the ship to shift, and the occupant to wake, obviously none too happy. The ‘attacks’, by both seaweed creatures and psychically, were attempts at communication. The Doctor, of course, cannot let this lie (literally) and devises a pretty cool plan to free the creature. Underwater punk rock. Yep. The Doctor and Hattie lay down some outstanding licks, causing some outstanding vibrations, that free the trapped ship. An unfortunate consequence is that the town starts to suffer from an Earthquake, but The Doctor and the alien team up to avert that crisis. Job done.

Although the main adventure was wrapped up, The Doctor usually has several other things going on as well, and one of those was his attempt to re-inspire Hattie, who was going through something of a personal crisis. What better inspiration to have involved her in a mission where her music directly saved the trapped alien, her voice saved a creature with none. Boom, The Doctor is in. Hattie returns to her own time and place, destined for greater things (The Doctor plans on returning in a year or two, to get a signed copy of her bestselling album to be). Great wrap up.

An excellent issue, really well written and drawn. Although Mann directed the story with a fine hand, many pages had no actual writing, so Laclaustra’s storytelling skills came to the fore. The underwater sequence was especially good, down to the wavy panel edges, and the full page panels were things of beauty. Story and art worked really well, and I liked the moral of the story, using the rescue to re-inspire Hattie. The musical resolution may have been a little over the top but, who cares, it was fun and it worked for me.

All change next month with a new creative team, new companion in Bill, and new story arc, but this was a fine send off for this particular team.

Their Doctor rocked it. Literally.

**** 4/5 »

- Dean Fuller

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Titan Comics team up with Bethesda for The Evil Within, Wolfenstein & Dishonored comics

22 June 2017 5:01 AM, PDT

Titan Comics have announced that they are teaming up with the legendary developer Bethesda to create in-canon stories based on Dishonored, The Evil Within and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, all of which are due to hit comic stores and digital devices this Fall.

From the press release:

Following Titan Comics’ smash-hit prequel comic series to The Evil Within in 2015, Titan Comics will publish a direct lead-in to the upcoming survival horror videogame sequel, inviting readers back into the blood-curdling world as imagined by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami!

Coming to comic stores and digital devices on September 6, Titan Comics’ new The Evil Within comic book series finds Detective Sebastian Castellanos still shell-shocked by the horrific events that took place at the Beacon Mental Hospital, and reluctantly pulled back into Mobius’ macabre world when a gruesome serial killer unleashes a new kind of hell onto Krimson City.

The Evil Within Issue #1 is written by Ryan O’Sullivan (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, Turncoat) with art by Damien Worm (The October Faction) and Szymon Kudranski (Spider-Man).

On September 13, 2017, get ready to sock it to the Nazis with an all-new comics prequel to the hotly anticipated first-person action blockbuster, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, which continues the adventures of B.J. Blazkowicz as he leads the resistance against the Nazis in occupied America.

In Titan’s new comic series, written by Dan Watters (Limbo, Assassin’s Creed: Uprising) with art by Piotr Kowalski (Sex, Dark Souls) and Ronilson Freire (The Mummy), dive headfirst into the alternate universe of Wolfenstein as B.J. Blazkowicz returns to take on the Nazis. Can he stop the march of goose-stepping boots? Or will the sinister Hans Hartmann be victorious?

Titan Comics will also publish brand-new Dishonored comics, to tie-in with the upcoming Dlc (downloadable content) of the smash-hit first person stealth-‘em-up Dishonored 2 videogame!

Written by by Michael Moreci (Roche Limit) and illustrated by Andrea Olimpieri (Dishonored) and Mattia Iacono (Demone Dentro), Dishonored: The Peeress and the Price, Titan Comics’ new series, sees Emily Kaldwin return to Dunwall for an adventure with Corvo Attano. Emily comes into conflict with a politician named Archibald Dufrane, and there is a mysterious killer on the loose – but when Emily’s powers start to falter in the middle of their investigation, things start to get deadly…

The Evil Within #1 (on-sale September 6, 2017), Wolfenstein #1 (on-sale September 13, 2017) and Dishonored: The Peeress And The Price #1 (on-sale September 27, 2017) are available to order from the upcoming July edition of Previews. »

- Phil Wheat

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Needle in a [Comic] Haystack #5: ‘Moonlighters’

22 June 2017 4:01 AM, PDT

Hi! Welcome back to Needle in a [Comic] Haystack, where I tell you about where you should spend your money, because you are probably only buying cape comics, and c’mon, haven’t we all had enough of them? Today we’re going to deal with a brand-new series by Katie Schenkel and Cal Moray about teenage werewolves, queerness, a supernatural team, and every furry’s dream smashing into each other to create a really awesome and fun comic from the outstanding team at Space Goat.

[One word: I do know Schenkel personally, but this comic is still super great]

What do you do when you’re bitten by a werewolf and have no one to turn to? If you’re college student Renee — the audience surrogate/lead of Moonlighters – you go to the nearest agency that deals with supernatural creatures. Unfortunately, as Renee finds, it’s not so much an agency to help people deal with supernatural creatures, as it is an agency to help supernatural creatures find help when they can’t (like if they have a cat stuck up a tree and the fire department won’t answer).

This ragtag group of goofballs, it turns out, are all also werewolves – but unlike Renee, all of them were born that way. Someone is out there turning humans. Who? And will it interfere with all of the cute romance that’s in the air? Hopefully not.

If you like X-Files, this is a series you’ll love. If you’ve always wanted to see a group of queers together being happy, you’ll dig it. Heck, if you love just fun comics, you’ll want to check this out.

Now, to stop being just a general comics recommender person, and talk to a smaller percentage of people: Hi, the queers. I’m queer too. And it’s hard for me to find a comic with depictions of people like me that aren’t… shocking, horrifying, or weird. It’s hard to find people who are just, you know, people. This comic – despite the people being, you know, werewolves – is one of the best depictions of queer people ever. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to be able to look at a comic filled with queer people and just smile. If you’ve ever felt the need for something nice, here you go.

This is the comic you should give to your queer children, if you have any. This is the comic you’ll re-read on sunny days, or read on sad days when everything seems low. It’s soft and sweet and happy and it’s available on Comixology. Go grab a copy, you won’t be disappointed.

That’s all for now. See you next time, folks. Until then, happy Pride Month! »

- Tara Marie

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Official poster for ‘The Defenders’

22 June 2017 3:47 AM, PDT

Marvel’s The Defenders – which premieres globally on August 18, 2017 at 12:01am Pt – follows Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones), a quartet of singular heroes with one common goal – to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.

The series follows the releases of Marvel’s Daredevil , Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage and Marvel’s Iron Fist. Marvel’s The Defenders stars Charlie Cox, (Matt Murdock/Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Finn Jones (Danny Rand/Iron Fist). Additional cast members include Academy-Award nominated actress Sigourney Weaver (Alexandra), Elodie Yung (Elektra), Scott Glenn (Stick), Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson), Carrie-Anne Moss (Jeri Hogarth), Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), Eka Darville (Malcolm Ducasse), Simone Missick (Misty Knight) and Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing). »

- Phil Wheat

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Nerd Buy: Funko Pint-Sized Horror Heroes

22 June 2017 3:22 AM, PDT

A brilliant first series of Horror Pint Sized Heroes from Funko features many horror icons, including: Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Gremlin, Pinhead, Chucky, Michael Myers, Pennywise, Beetlejuice, Cthulhu, Carrie, Krampus and Elvira.

Pint Size Heroes are a new Cdu, blind bagged, mini figure concept which will bring great characters and design to customers at a pocket money price. Each series consists of 12 figures. Check out the line-up below: »

- Phil Wheat

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The History of Bad Ideas – Episode 181: Sharecropping in Disney!

22 June 2017 2:01 AM, PDT

Emanating from their studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, The History of Bad Ideas sees hosts Jason, Jeff and Blake talk about all things geeky on their podcast. Whether it’s rumours of the latest comic book movies, debating who really is the worst villain of all time, discussing the latest comic issues or just wondering about life in general, you are sure to have a fun time with them! In theory.

If you haven’t listened to the show before – why not? – you can check out previous episodes of The History of Bad Ideas podcast on iTunes and look out for new episodes here on Nerdly each and every week…

Episode 181: Sharecropping in Disney!

The Hobi Gang welcomes Number One Fan Doug into the Bob Studios to talk his latest visit to Disney World and Pandora, aka AvatarLand and to teach the gang some Disney history! The guys are hating on Transformers even before it is released, Blake hates the fake news surrounding Wonder Woman while Jason lightens the mood with impressions of celebrity siblings! The gang is scared of Bat-nipples, Jeff gets angry at people that don’t understand Lost while Doug is only interested in a new Atari console if it has the dirty games from the old system! The guys list their Top 5 Favorite Fictional Fathers and Hobi has two Bad Ideas of the Week this time! This episode is sponsored by the Cincinnati Comic Expo! »

- Phil Wheat

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Graphic Novel Review: ‘Warhammer 40K: Will of Iron’

21 June 2017 10:01 AM, PDT

Written by George Mann | Art by Tazio Bettin | Colour by Erica Erin Angiolini | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 112pp

After a thousand years of warp storms, the Calaphrax Cluster has re-opened to the universe, and Baltus and his fellow Dark Angel Space Marines join a strike force sent to explore and secure the region, in search of forgotten artefacts and ancient technology! But the forces of Chaos are never far away… and a shameful Dark Angels secret from the Horus Heresy soon leads to a new front in the war!

Ahh, Warhammer 40000. I remember you from my youth. Hours spent painstakingly painting and arranging little figurines on my desk so I could make shooty noises out of the corner of my mouth and stare at them proudly.

What? Game? There’s a game?

Anyway, onto the comic. This volume comes from Titan and collects the first four issues of the series under the title of Will of Iron. There are plenty of opportunities to make shooty noises out of the corner of your mouth throughout because as we all know: in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.

It’s not the destination, however, but the journey that really shines through in this volume.

The artwork, by Tazio Bettin, has some very impactful moments throughout. Made even more stunning by colourist Erica Erin Angiolini, there are a few pages where I just stopped to gape at the beautiful space vistas that these two have managed to bring alive. In fact, if it had been a comic comprised entirely of dramatic space landscapes, I would have been happy (but maybe a little bored). Luckily, we also get some well envisioned characters and action sequences as well.

On the story side, it’s written by George Mann. In our review of the first issue by Dean Fuller, he mentions how the story is not really for people new to Warhammer 40k or the surrounding universe. For this first volume, that description still stands true. I get that Space Marines don’t like Chaos Space Marines because of reasons and the Chaos Marines are probably the bad guys because they are uglier and wear black (possibly because it’s slimming?) but, beyond that, I don’t have much of an in depth knowledge myself. I mean, why can’t they all just get along?

I also realised, on the my third read through of the volume, that I didn’t know any of the character’s names. At first, I thought it was because they had names like Inquisitor Sabbethiel, Interregator-Chaplain Altheous, and Master Seraphus, which are long and complicated and refuse to stay in my brain. But on a fourth read through, I came to the conclusion that character development is on the weaker side.

Inquisitor Sabbethiel (just writing that name is a pain) and her motley crew are by far the most interesting group in the volume, but they are just teased at. Who are they? Why are they following them? They are also the most varied bunch of characters in the comic, providing a stark contrast to the faceless space marines and armies who shoot at each other for the rest of the issue. Maybe a bit more character time and less epic battles might have balanced it out, but an argument could be made that you don’t buy a ‘Warhammer’ comic for the emotional journey. Pew pew pew!

All in all, not a terrible volume. If you’re a 40k fan, and have the lore down, or are looking for a fast-paced, action-filled read this might be one worth checking out. But for the uninitiated or a random passer-by? Maybe not quite your cup of tea.

***½  3.5/5 »

- Richard Axtell

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Bandai announce new ‘.Hack’ title

21 June 2017 9:01 AM, PDT

Bandai Namco have announced the release of .hack//G.U. Last Recode for the PlayStation 4 and PC. The definitive .hack//G.U. experience for existing fans and newbies, .hack//G.U. Last Recode collects the three .hack//G.U. action-rpg titles; Rebirth, Reminisce and Redemption with updated 1080p, 16:9 widescreen picture, and 60 fps frame rate, gameplay balance changes and additional features to be announced in the upcoming months.

From the press release:

.hack is a multimedia franchise created and developed by famed Japanese developer CyberConnect2. Comprising of video games, anime, novels, and manga, the world of .hack focuses on the mysterious events surrounding a wildly popular in-universe massively multiplayer role-playing game called The World. .hack//G.U. begins after the events of the original .hack series with players assuming the role of Haseo as he tracks down a powerful Player Killer named Tri-Edge who killed his friend’s in-game avatar Shino, and put her in a coma in real life.

In addition to offering the .hack//G.U. trilogy, .hack//G.U. Last Recode will also include enhanced battle balance and game pacing to provide an optimal experience as well as a new Cheat Mode allowing players who want to just enjoy the story to start the game with full stats.

“The .hack series has been one of the most acclaimed series in the history and we are excited to announce this definitive experience for those who loved the original games and those who haven’t experience them yet,” said Antoine Jamet, Brand Manager Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe. “With the new features that will be part of the title, fans will experience .hack//G.U. like never before with .hack//G.U. Last Recode!”

.hack//G.U. Last Recode will release for the PlayStation 4 (physical and digital) and PC in late 2017. »

- Phil Wheat

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