A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

Today we will look back at the early development of futuristic Spider-Man as published way back in 1993. The first three issues (read also my reviews of issue #2 and #3) formed a solid foundation on establishing Miguel O’Hara as his era’s Spider-Man thanks mainly to the high-quality writing done by Peter David. What issue #4 will deliver, we will find out here.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #4, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Ricky Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Gabriel O’Hara (Miguel’s brother) and Kasey Nash trying to have a good time together inside a vehicle until a man armed with a sword interrupts them and tries to take the lady with him. As Gabriel makes his move to help Kasey, the swordman throws two sharp projectiles at him and moves away with the lady.

Over at the Babylon Towers residence, Miguel O’Hara gets visited by his boss Tyler Stone accompanied by armed personnel. Not realizing that Spider-Man 2099 and Miguel are one and the same person, Tyler tells him that the sudden appearance of the crawler put Alchemax on edge.

Tyler proposes peace between him and Miguel, offering him more of the hyper addictive substance Rapture. He tells him that Aaron Delgato was identified as the mysterious Spider-Man…   

Quality

Miguel O’Hara and his brother Gabriel ride and talk.

The plot really thickened in this comic book resulting a few very interesting sub-plot branches as well as more depth on the development of Miguel O’Hara. I really like the way Peter David explored the corporate side of Miguel’s life here creating suspense about Tyler’s limited knowledge of the Alchemax incidents that happened in issues #1 and #2 which actually involved the protagonist witnessing the fall of his corporate rival Aaron (the same guy responsible for the genetic manipulation of Miguel into Spider-Man). This comic book also focuses on the strained relationship Miguel has with his brother Gabriel who clearly lacks the will to be personally responsible.

I also enjoyed the way Miguel reacts to the classic Spider-Man expression of “with great power comes great responsibility” as he struggles to set things right even as being a civilian and a superhero in his society has major hassles.

The anticipated battle between Spider-Man and the sword-wielding Specialist was structured nicely. Instead of being the typical good-versus-evil conflict, what was presented started with nice moments as Spider-Man still struggles to make the best out of his capabilities. Be aware that the fight does not conclude in this issue.

Conclusion

Miguel getting ready for work while having his Spider-Man costume worn.

Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) is a solid comic book to read. It had a nice balance of character development, plot with twists here and there, as well as a good amount of action and thrills. Its best feature, as expected, was the further development of the protagonist and you will see more of Miguel than Spider-Man. By the end of this comic book, I really felt I got to know Miguel more as a person, and not a mere character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

This time around, we take a look back at the early stage of the futuristic Spider-Man’s story and learn more about Miguel’s struggle in becoming something he was not ready for. On my part, the 3rd issue of Spider-Man 2099 was the first-ever hard copy of the monthly series I bought.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #3, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the ending of issue #2 with Miguel O’Hara in disguise as Spider-Man facing off with Venture who has been working for Alchemax’s head to find precisely him. The presence of idolaters of Thor view Venture as an enemy and Spider-Man (who knows he is being hunted by the cybernetic guy) tells them to get back to stay out of danger.

Instead of listening to him, the idolaters did the foolish thing by physically attacking Venture who is just too proficient in combat and his high-tech weapon hurts them. With great risk, Spider-Man leaps to Venture to try to convince him to leave him alone. Unfortunately he loses his balance and gets touched by Venture’s weapon which leaves his right arm numb.

Venture tells Spider-Man that Alchemax wants him…

Quality

Even though he has a numb right arm, Spider-Man 2099 still got up-close and personal with Venture.

This comic book is one action-packed thrill ride laced with solid character development. While issues #1 and #2 showed how Miguel O’Hara became Spider-Man of 2099, this story shows him in his first-ever battle with someone who happens to be doing a mission for Alchemax (Miguel’s employer no less).

Peter David carefully structured the story and the result were lots of moments in which Spider-Man 2099 witnesses the unexpected happenings which readers can relate with. As it is clear from the start, Miguel is no fighter nor is he a skilled gymnast. He just so happens to have been modified into a super being and gained abilities to leap far distances, climb walls and shoot organic web sourced from his arms. What he does with his abilities, he does his best to adjust himself. I also like the fact that Spider-Man of 2099 does not have the Spider Sense of the classic Spider-Man (Peter Park) which in a creative way adds to the suspenseful moments in this comic book series.

As for Venture, he is not your typical villain nor is a one-dimension character designed to merely provide opposition to the protagonist. He is a cybernetic bounty hunter on a mission and does not harbor any personal grudge nor hatred against Spider-Man. On his own, Venture is deadly and is clearly one of the best villains to ever take on Spidey 2099.

Conclusion

The idolaters and worshipers of Thor take on Venture which Spider-Man witnesses.

Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) is a very solid read and it succeeded in further defining the futuristic Spider-Man’s personality as well as his origin. The first time I read this comic book, I got very immersed in learning about the protagonist and how he does his best to save himself and overcome the opposition while finding out ways to ensure that bystanders and witnesses will not get hurt. This comic book also has an immersive sci-fi setting and shows more of the society of 2099. I can clearly say that this is one enjoyable and compelling comic book which aged nicely to this day.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) is highly recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at V: The Final Battle (1984)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Final Battle and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

With a very engaging story, memorable characters, intriguing concepts and innovative marketing, the $13 million production V: The Original Miniseries (simply called V back then) became a major TV hit in America over two nights in May, 1983. I personally loved watching the said mini-series back in the 1980s and I still love replaying it in this age of high-definition and Blu-ray discs. For me, at least, it is a timeless classic and it carries several lessons about the fragility of society, the rise of fascism, the spread of evil in many forms and the human desire for freedom from oppression.

Given its success and the way creator Kenneth Johnson ended the 1983 sci-fi mini-series, a sequel was inevitable. In fact, two sequels to V: The Original Miniseries were approved in the form of another mini-series (note: I acquired the Blu-ray release in 2021) and a regular TV series. Beyond the small screen, the V franchise entered literature as DC Comics published a V comic book series (read my retro review of V #1 by clicking here) related to the TV series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Final Battle, starring Faye Grant, Marc Singer, Jane Badler and Michael Ironside under the direction of Richard T. Heffron. This 3-episode mini-series, which involved a lot of screenwriters, was broadcast on TV in America in May 1984.

The cover and the title that did not live up to its purpose.

Early story

The story begins with Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) having a nightmare of him and his son Sean (who was abducted during the events of V: The Original Miniseries) in a desperate escape attempt while inside one of the motherships of the Visitors. He wakes up in the presence of Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and realizes they have a dangerous mission to execute at a local facility used by the red-uniformed Visitors. It turns out, the Resistance movement led by Julie has been losing ground to the alien humanoids and Mike has been helping them out while prioritizing the state of his son who has been in captivity in one of the mother ships.

During the night, a truck carrying many local civilians inside its trailer arrives at a local factory controlled by the Visitors with officer Steven (Andrew Pine) watching over. After the civilians got directed to enter the factory, it turns out they got processed and came out in the form of food cocoons. The sight shocks Julie watching from a distance with her armed teammates waiting on stand-by.

Easily the most engaging shot in this sequel. A clear reminder about the fascist takeover by the aliens from outer space.

After causing damage on the nearest fence, the Resistance begins their attempt to raid the facility and free their fellow cocooned people but the tide turned against them. It turns out, the Visitors’ troops are wearing stronger armor and bright lights were installed on the top of the facility to forcing Julie, Marc and the rest of their team to retreat. They lost some members along the way. During a closed-door meeting with the Resistance stakeholders, Mike Donovan says a key event is needed to make a significant gain against the Visitors.

Over at the mothership hovering over Los Angeles and in the presence of Diana (Jane Badler), the leader John (Richard Herd) tells Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) that a major medical announcement will be held in the form of an organized special event very soon and that she will be part of the presentation for the global TV audience…

Quality

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan with Michael Durrel and Michael Wright as Robert Maxwell and Elias Taylor near him.

I’ll star first with the presentation here. This sequel mini-series was composed of three episodes totaling over 270 minutes. In what looks like to be attempts to ensure more spectacles for the viewers’ enjoyment, each episode of V: The Final Battle has a battle near the end and the creative team succeeded in not only providing on-screen action but also scored well in making the spectacle more varied while still making sense within the main narrative. For the most part, this sequel is indeed a natural progression of what was established in V: The Original Miniseries and that is something to admire given the fact that V creator Kenneth Johnson left this production early.

On the storytelling, V: The Final Battle expands a bit on the Visitors’ dictatorship of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas while the Resistance led by Julie Parrish and supported by close companions Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell), Elias Taylor (Michael Wright) and Caleb Taylor (Jason Bernard) are shown to be struggling on taking down the alien humanoids even though they secured noticeably more weapons and equipment. The storytelling and the dramatization about the Resistance changes dramatically with the addition of Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) and partner Chris Farber (Mickey Jones) in the 2nd episode and from that point on, you get to see a human opposition that becomes more flexible with their operations.

Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler is the most significant new addition to the cast.

As mentioned earlier, Kenneth Johnson’s involvement in this sequel was minimal and it is seen on the presentation. The symbolism Johnson implemented in the original mini-series that established parallels between 1980s America to the Nazi occupation of Europe did not continue here which results a more straightforward presentation of details, character moments and story progression. There was also a noticeable lack of suspense when it comes to executing big scenes with big reveals. The pacing, like in the 1983 mini-series, moves smoothly at a moderate pace throughout and there were no boring moments at all.

The quality of script is still good. For the most part, the writers managed to capture the essence of the established characters from the original mini-series as they told the further developments of this sequel. For example, Caleb and Elias’ father-and-son moments quickly remind me of what I saw in V: The Original Miniseries. Robert Maxwell’s struggle to help his troubled daughter Robin (Blair Tefkin) while assisting Julie and the Resistance is a very natural progression of what was shown in 1983. The friendship between good natured alien Willie (Robert Englund) and Harmony (Diane Cary) got developed a lot more than expected eventually adding to one particular side of the conflict. The local collaborators Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson) developed further with their treason towards their fellow humans as they enjoyed further the power they gained from the Visitors. These two characters will surely get on the nerves of viewers rooting for the Resistance.

Denise Galik as Maggie is a fine new addition to the cast.
David Packer returns as Daniel Bernstein.
Sarah Douglas as Pamela, a superior of Diana’s.

When it comes to new additions to the cast, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber are not the only new players to add depth to this sequel. There is also Maggie (Denise Galik) who is an attractive, brave and strategic Resistance member whose contribution makes an impact. On the downside, there is also Andrew Doyle (Thomas Hill) who is bad choice the creative team came up with as the on-screen representative of faith when he in fact represents religion, idolatry, rituals and distortion. On the side of the Visitors is Pamela (Sarah Douglas) who is a higher-ranking officer than Diana and even John. Pamela is the more militaristic type of leader who is more focused on achieving goals while keeping things in order.

If there is anything flawed about the characterization, it is the romantic relationship of Julie Parrish and Mike Donovan which starts in the first episode. Considering how dramatic the performances of Faye Grant and Marc Singer were in this sequel, Julie and Mike still don’t make a believable pair of lovers in my view. While this romantic relationship opens up new dimensions within Julie and Mike and offer viewers something new to focus, it brings down the former’s value as Resistance leader somewhat while also setting aside the hinted personal connection between her and Elias in the 2nd episode of the 1983 mini-series.

Faye Grant as Julie Parrish in the conversion process scene watched closely by Jane Badler’s Diana.

More on Faye Grant, her performance here is more varied. Not only does she play the brave and struggling leader who is talented in fighting, science and medical practice, she also portrayed Julie as an even more vulnerable character this time around. Her act as the traumatized Julie during the conversion process (read: mental and psychological torture using a more detailed form of virtual reality or nightmare generation) scenes under the watch of Diana is very dramatic and compelling to watch. Just seeing Julie in the conversion process will make grip you with despair and you will eventually feel sorry for her. I should state that the nightmare scenes of Julie were presented with a clear touch of horror.

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan is no longer the reluctant action hero but rather a driven man with a mission to get his missing son back while maintaining a secret connection with Martin (Frank Ashmore) of the Fifth Column (secret dissenters among the Visitors) hoping to achieve breakthroughs for the Resistance and their friends among the dissenting aliens. Singer did the best he could with the script provided to him and he remain likable all throughout. Other than the unbelievable romance with Julie, there is not much new to expect from the way Mike Donovan was written here.

Jane Badler’s performance as Diana deserves admiration here. Not only did she successfully recapture the charismatic and sinister nature of her character in the 1983 mini-series, Badler was very convincing in showing the more desperate side of Diana, especially when it comes to power struggle within the ranks of the Visitors. You can clearly see the desperation and struggle as soon as Pamela appeared. This sequel also showed a lot more of Diana when it comes to personally supervising her conversion process which is much more elaborate here (note: the conversion process in the 1983 mini-series was limited to the showing of a chair with torture devices). Being the very symbol of charisma and evil in the V franchise, Diana’s place in pop culture is solid and her real-world comparative counterparts would be none other than Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris.

Jane Badler as the ever charismatic yet very wicked Diana.

As mentioned earlier, Michael Ironside’s Ham Tyler is the most significant addition to the cast and the script. Ironside had that excellent mix of toughness, cruelty and sarcasm portrayed in here and at the same time Ham Tyler brought out very interesting and intriguing interactions with the more established Julie and Mike. As seen in entertainment history, Ironside went on to climb up the ranks in Hollywood with Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997) and in the Splinter Cell video game franchise. Ironside’s Ham is easily the fourth major character of the V franchise of the 1980s.

Going into the spectacle part of this sequel, the action is more varied as mentioned earlier and the 3-episode structure was a factor. You will see lots of shooting with the use of guns and laser blasters here and there, and with the in-story locations and props as key factors, there are action sequences that are uniquely done. There is a lot to enjoy for any V fan and casual viewers watching this sequel.

As for the special effects part of the spectacle, this one is a mixed bag similar to what was presented in the 1983 mini-series. To put things in perspective, the use of in-camera effects, practical effects and optical effects for TV back in the 1980s was ambitious. That being said, certain effect shots here did not age well such as the miniature shots looking fake (because the camera used did not have a special lens to capture visuals that would have made the miniatures look believable). I should also state that there were certain effects shots that were recycled and reused in key sequences in this sequel which remains embarrassing to see. What is even more embarrassing to see here is the very poor-quality monster effects used during the nightmare scenes (conversion process) of Julie and, more notably, the presentation of Robin’s other child. The monster effects are so fake, they are laughable to watch.  

On the bright side of the special effects, the quality of the laser blasts remains good to watch right down to the precise timing with the explosions that were simulated on-set and in-camera.

Conclusion

The Visitors and Resistance key characters in the sequel.

While it has its strengths and weaknesses, V: The Final Battle is still engaging and enjoyable to watch, and at the same time it is a worthy addition for your Blu-ray collection when it comes to HD viewing (note: this is the sequel with the best visuals yet albeit with black borders on the sides). Even though creator Kenneth Johnson was not too involved on the production side, the creative team managed to deliver a long story that proved to be a natural progression of the original mini-series while providing more spectacle (especially action), developing the established characters and resolving key plot threads that started in 1983.

The lack of Kenneth Johnson’s personal touch on the presentation was noticeable and somewhat brought this sequel down a bit in terms of style. What brought V: The Final Battle’s quality down were the overall cheaper looking visual effects, the Julie-Mike love relationship and the climax of the final episode which seemed executed with desperation on the part of the creative team (note: giving a little new character instant purpose). In fairness, this sequel still succeeded in showing what fascism in America (or California specifically which is now dominated by Commies) would look like and it built up on its predecessor’s themes such as the deception of power and the collaboration with foreign enemies. This mini-series even added themes of teenage pregnancy and abortion to its narrative.

Does V: The Final Battle live up to its title? Absolutely not because a regular TV series that deteriorated in quality followed. In retrospect, it’s clear that this sequel marked the beginning of the decline of the V franchise in pop culture. What more, V: The Final Battle was never counted as canon in Kenneth Johnson’s 2008 novel (and sequel to the 1983 mini-series) V: The Second Generation. On its own, V: The Final Battle still has more positive stuff than negative ones and in my experience, it remains enjoyable and compelling to watch from start to finish. Compared to V: The Original Miniseries, I can say this sequel falls short. It is good, not great.

Overall, V: The Final Battle (1984) is recommended. That being said, let this 1984 mini-series remind you that there is so much evil in the real world in the forms of Iran, the terrorists of Palestine, the social justice warriors (SJWs), the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and liberal media to name some. Always keep in mind to avoid becoming evil no matter how tempting power in this divided world becomes to you. You also do not want to let the evil ones take over your government and have authority over you, your family members and your community. Push back against evil and stand up strong by faithfully taking sides with the one true Savior whose name is Jesus!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Better than Streaming: Another 4K Blu-ray of Terminator 2: Judgment Day coming out December 6, 2021 (for the British market)

Welcome back, fellow geeks, film enthusiasts and Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray collectors!

If you are based in England and you love the works of Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, as well as the bastardized Terminator film franchise, then you might be interested in the just announced new 4K Blu-ray of Terminator 2: Judgment Day coming from StudioCanal which you can order online right now for £60.00. It is set for a December 6, 2021 release as of this writing.

Coming out this December.

To be more specific, this newest 4K Blu-ray of the 1991 blockbuster film is a commemorative edition highlighting its 30th anniversary.

Posted below are key details of Terminator 2: Judgment Day 4K Blu-ray combo from its Blu-ray.com page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

English: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles

English SDH

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray 3D

Blu-ray Disc

Five-disc set (1 BD-66, 2 BD-50, 2 LPs)

Packaging

Slipbox

DigiPack, Inner print

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region B

And here are details of the special features and technical specs from the Blu-ray.com announcement…

  • PREVIOUSLY COMPLETED 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM
  • T2: Reprogramming The Terminator documentary (including exclusive interviews with James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong and many more) – 55 mins
  • 2 Feature Commentaries; 23 Members of Cast & Crew (1993)/Director James & Co-Author William Wisher
  • The Making of T2 (1993)
  • Seamless Branching Of The Theatrical Version (137 mins approx.)
  • Special Edition Version (154 mins approx.)
  • Extended Special Edition Version (156 mins approx.)
  • 2 Deleted Scenes With Audio Commentary
  • Trailers – T2:3D (2017)
  • T2 Theatrical Trailer ‘This Time There Are Two’/’Same Make New Mission’/’Building The Perfect Arnold
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

Extra stuff and fine packaging aside, the above-mentioned “PREVIOUSLY COMPLETED 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM” confirms that the new 4K Blu-ray will not have a brand new remaster which alone concerns me as a collector and fan of the movie. I’ve read Blu-ray.com’s review of the previous 4K Blu-ray of Terminator 2 (the product released by Lionsgate Films) which rated its 4K video quality with a score of 2.5 out of 5 while the 2K video quality was rated 3/5. In that same review, it was mentioned that there was a near absence of film grain and an altered color palette resulting “a kind of greenish-teal tone to several scenes that never had them before.”

Personally I’m not too confident about this upcoming release from StudioCanal. The picture quality for 2K and 4K viewing should be nothing less than excellent. As for you movie fans and Blu-ray collectors reading this, you will have to do your analysis before making the crucial decision to buy this 4K Blu-ray of Terminator 2.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-rayThe Suicide Squad, Super Dimension Century Orguss Blu-ray, Unbreakable 4K Blu-ray, Injustice 4K Blu-ray and The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

Better than Streaming: Highlander anniversary 4K Blu-ray set for September 14, 2021 release

Calling all fans of the 1986 movie Highlander, the fans of Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and the late Sean Connery, as well as Blu-ray collectors who enjoy fantasy and science fiction!

Get ready because Highlander will be released in 4K Blu-ray format on September 14, 2021. It will come with the 4K Blu-ray disc, Blu-ray (for 1080p viewing) and the digital copy. 4K Blu-ray collectors should be aware that as of this writing, there is no confirmation yet if Highlander 4K Blu-ray will come with native 4K visuals or upscaled 4K visuals.

Christopher Lambert with Beatie Edney in a scene.

Meantime, here are the specs from the product’s page at Blu-ray.com

SPECS

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio- TBA

Subtitles – None

Disc – 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc

Digital – Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

As of now, there is really not that much information about Highlander 4K Blu-ray. It just so happens that this year marks the 35th anniversary of the movie.

For the newcomers reading this, Highlander is the story of immortality that follows a Scottish man called Connor (played by Lambert) who discovers his legacy with a legion of immortals. After living for centuries and moving to different places around the world, he eventually settles in the city of New York. Things turn intense when other immortals appear around him.

I first saw this movie on home video way back in late 1980s. I even saw its 1991 sequel Highlander II: The Quickening and even a few episodes of its TV series. I was never a fan of the Highlander franchise but I fondly remember the 1986 movie for its very scenic shots, the epic flashback set in historic Scotland, the great sword fighting and the very creepy performance of Clancy Brown as the main antagonist. Sean Connery, who died in October 2020, was also memorable in his supporting role as Ramirez. Christopher Lambert is still best known for his lead role as Connor in this movie.

To get to know more about Highlander, watch the video posted below from Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray, V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review) and V: The Final Battle Blu-ray.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Classic game Zombies Ate My Neighbors plus sequel coming to Xbox on June 29, 2021!

Yesterday, I learned about the most surprising news related to my personal interest of Xbox gaming. It’s not about the reported new game of Bethesda (which has been fully acquired by Microsoft) and not about The Coalition’s latest developments.

Rather it’s about a pretty notable game (plus its sequel) from the 1990s that I completely missed out on. The big surprise to me was that it will be released soon for Xbox One and Xbox Series S and X owners to enjoy.

That game is none other than Zombies Ate My Neighbors and its sequel Ghoul Patrol. Both games from the 1990s will be released for Xbox on June 29, 2021 for $14.99!

For those who are not familiar with either game, here is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Ken Humphries (Senior Producer on the two games)…

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

The 2-player function is a popular feature of the game.

Hey, where’s that scary music coming from? Yikes! It’s Zombies Ate My Neighbors, where you appear in every demented horror flick ever to make you hurl ju-jubes.

What are Zeke and Julie, our two wholesome teenage stars doing in a 16-bit game like this?! Trying to save the nice neighbors, cheerleaders, and babies from a fate worse than polyester!

Who could put this slice of suburbia in such goose-pimply hysteria? Zombies, relentless chainsaw maniacs, mummies, evil dolls that just won’t die, lizard men, blobs, vampires, giant ants, martians, and more.

One of many levels in this game.

Will these crazy kids survive the night? Find your way through 55 horror-filled levels like a grocery store gone bad, a shopping mall awry, a mysterious island and your own back yard. Don’t miss “Weird Kids on the Block,” “Mars Needs Cheerleaders,” and “Dances w ith Werewolves.”

You can fend off the freaks with a virtual candy counter of weapons like uzi squirt guns, exploding soda pop, bazookas, weed wackers and ancient artifacts. Also grab power ups-o-rama like secret potions and bobo clown decoys. Does this game ever end?!

Ghoul Patrol

Nothing like facing an over-sized enemy in Ghoul Patrol.

Zeke and Julie, our intrepid teenagers, visit the Ghosts and Ghouls exhibit at the city library, where they find an old treasure chest containing an ancient spirit book. Naturally, they cannot resist reading it. Suddenly, a horrific snaggle-toothed spirit emerges.

Now, this snarling phantom and his dastardly minions are infesting Metropolis and slithering their way into the history books, where they plan to rewrite history with their spooky ways. Only you have the power to go back in time to de-spook an encyclopedia of zombified historic dudes.

Were you able to play this game back in the 1990s?

Terminate, with prejudice, using crossbows, ping-pong ball machine guns, Martian “Heatseeker” guns, and more.

Vaporize garbage can ghosts and ninja spirits, rescue bug-eyed librarians and wigged-out pirates, dodge flying books and adolescent-eating plants!

The features for Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol are as follows…

NEW FEATURES

Save Feature: Quickly save your progress in either game and continue your adventure wherever and whenever you want

Museum Features: Watch a video interview with one of the original Zombies’ developers or explore numerous galleries containing game art, previously unreleased concept images and marketing assets

Soundtrack: Listen to the entire soundtracks for both games in the included music players

2 Player Mode: Play the game with two player local co-op

• Achievements: Track your game progress with a set of achievements covering both games

To put things in perspective, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was released in 1993 published by Konami (game developed by LucasArts) for the Super NES (SNES) and the Sega Genesis. It was not a big commercial success but it proved to be a hit with the critics of the time (plus the writers who published their reviews of it years later). Zombies Ate My Neighbors gained a cult following as it not only had enjoyable gameplay, its visual style was appealing, it had lots of visual elements related to pop culture (notably horror genre elements), a memorable soundtrack and more.

In a 2006 article published by IGN, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was described by Lucas M. Thomas as “a comical 16-bit template for the new Xbox 360 release, Dead Rising. And like that game, this one arms you with a pretty bizarre arsenal. Weed whackers, exploding soda cans and flying silverware all make an appearance to help you, or you and a friend, put a hurt on these living dead.”

Ghoul Patrol was released in 1994 for SNES, published back then by JVC (Japan Victor Company) with the development done by LucasArts. Like its predecessor, I never got to play it back decades ago. In addition, I never even saw a copy of the sequel at retail during those days.

As I never got to play Zombies Ate My Neighbors back decades ago, its upcoming release for Xbox is a very delightful surprise for me personally. I will order this (along with Ghoul Patrol) very soon.

If you are interested to order in advance Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol for your Xbox One or Xbox Series console, click here.

In ending this piece, posted below is a video retrospective on Zombies Ate My Neighbors published by GamerThumbTV plus a retro review by Cinemassacre. Be mindful of potential spoilers.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Total Recall (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I miss the old days when an R-rated action-packed science fiction movie can be passionately made with exceptional directing, clever writing, great camera work that’s consistently steady, solid performances from the actors, action that was not too choreographed, and visuals that heavily utilized practical effects and optical effects.

I’m talking about Total Recall, the 1990 sci-fi action movie that starred a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger supported by Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (who directed the 1987 classic RoboCop) with a screenplay (based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman, Total Recall was a tremendous hit in the cinemas grossing more than $261 million worldwide with a production budget of over $60 million. To date, the film remains a favorite not only with fans of Schwarzenegger but also with people who love action movies, sci-fi movies, movies of the 1990s and geeks.

But before looking back at this movie, it is important to take note that Total Recall took several years of development before it finally got produced. The very first screenplay was written by O’Bannon and Shusett in the 1970s (after securing the film rights to Philip K. Dick’s short story when the author was still alive). Eventually prolific movie producer Dino De Laurentiis took the project for development. Years later, De Laurentiis’ company collapsed (due to failed projects) which provided Schwarzenegger the golden opportunity to get Total Recall by persuading Carolco to secure the rights for a few million dollars. After many screenplay drafts written and the hiring of Verhoeven as director (note: Schwarzenegger approached him personally) plus Gary Goldman, the rest became history.

Screenshot_20200524-002827_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox in a memorable scene.

Now, here is a look back at Total Recall.

Early Story

The story begins at the surface of planet Mars where a man and a lady (both wearing space suits) travel on foot. Suddenly, the man slips down and breaks the frontal shield of his helmet exposing himself to Mars’ air. It turned out to be an intense nightmare for Douglas Quaid who was in bed with his beautiful wife Lori. Lori asked him about the unidentified woman who appeared in his dreams, but Quaid expresses his love for her. On his way to work, Quaid saw a TV ad inside the train about Rekall, a company that sells holidays and adventures in the form of memories. At work, his fellow construction worker discouraged him from availing of any services from Rekall. After work, Quaid visits Rekall and decides to avail of an ego trip as a secret agent. Just as the memory trip was about to start, Quaid wakes up violently…

Quality

This movie is still great to watch. Let me start first with the creative team of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Screenshot_20200524-002229_YouTube.jpg
A great action scene about to start…

When it comes to the synergy between the director and the lead player, Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger make a great creative team that made this movie very special! When asked during an interview what it was like for him to work with Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven said:  Arnold is great. Switching from Rutger Hauer to Arnold is not that big a step. It’s strange to say that, because he’s this crazy Austrian, with an accent—but, for me, Arnold is the American Rutger. I think if I did a few movies with Arnold, I could do as much with him as I did with Rutger. Now, this movie was the wrong thing . . . But I think you can do much more with Arnold, explore more possibilities, than was necessary for this movie.

Screenshot_20200523-235159_YouTube.jpg
Sharon Stone as Lori.

Now, it is a fact that Schwarzenegger lacks versatility when it comes to acting. Even so, Verhoeven succeeded in getting a deeper-than-expected performance from the star in this movie. Sure, we get to see Schwarzenegger fight bad guys with really rough action, fire guns, run and jump around here but what really stood out here was his portrayal of a man who discovers that the life he knew was all a lie and goes on to find the truth about himself. This role remains a standout role of Schwarzenegger’s among all the characters he played in his many other action films. What is also notable with Douglas Quaid is that the protagonist is always in danger and never invincible, very similar to how Bruce Willis played John McClane in Die Hard. If you watch this film after seeing Schwarzenegger play his invincible icon in the Terminator movies, you will feel his pain, tension and curiosity here! As if that was not enough, there is also the other role Schwarzenegger played in this movie that you should see.

Of course, Total Recall also drew greatness and depth from Verhoeven who also got strong performances from Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin and Ronny Cox. Sharon Stone is the beautiful wife who will shock you. Michael Ironside is the henchman who will make you root for Schwarzenegger even more. Rachel Ticotin is the brave woman who is believable with the cause she is involved with.

Screenshot_20200524-002035_YouTube.jpg
Rachel Ticotin as Melina.

More notably, Ronny Cox is the all-powerful and ruthless executive who will get on your nerves and make you root for Schwarzenegger a lot, very similar to how his villainous role in RoboCop made moviegoers root for the cyborg policeman. It should be noted that the evil executive-henchman duo of Cohaagen (Cox) and Richter (Ironside) here is a directorial trademark of Verhoeven’s and it should bring back memories of the other evil duo in RoboCop. More than that, Ronny Cox succeeded in selling the concept that Cohaagen really had been the administrator of the colony in Mars exploiting the resources and the people for a long time.

More on getting the most out of the actors, Verhoeven and his team crafted a memorable hand-to-hand fight scene between Lori (Stone) and Melina (Ticotin) actually taking part in the action and stunts. Sharon Stone clearly got athletic in this movie and her efforts paid-off nicely, complete with another fight scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger (she actually even threw two high kicks at Schwarzenegger’s head) early in the film. Beyond the hard battle with Stone, Ticotin went on to take part in further action scenes in the film and she sure is believable as an action performer. To put things in perspective, Stone and Ticotin are not action stars but they excelled nicely in their work here and this also made Total Recall special.

When it comes to storytelling under the direction of Verhoeven, Total Recall moved at a medium-to-fast pace and there was never a single moment of rushing, nor a single boring moment at all. The film just kept going smoothly complete with true unpredictability which results lots of twists and surprises. I should also state that the dialogue from the finalized screenplay is still excellent, and they were nicely delivered by the actors. Verhoeven also added depth to the film by using mystery while also getting good performance from Schwarzenegger as Doug Quaid finds out that life is not what it seems. I should state that the sci-fi elements of altering (and adding) human memories with the use of computers and the business of selling virtual holidays and ego trips were strongly emphasized. These also add to the film’s mystery which should engage you to wonder and analyze as the story moves on.

Screenshot_20200524-003106_YouTube.jpg
The best view from an office on planet Mars.

On the spectacle, Total Recall is heavily loaded! The action is violent, plentiful and carries that particular aesthetic that only director Verhoeven has. It’s hard to explain in words but once you watch the action in this movie (plus comparing it to RoboCop and Starship Troopers), you will realize it. Even so, the action never turned this movie into a brainless affair. The action worked nicely to balance the mystery and suspense.

The visual effects here were mostly done by practical and optical ways. Special effects specialist Rob Bottin, who famously worked in John Carpenter’s The Thing and worked also with Verhoeven in RoboCop, came up with very memorable animatronics to simulate facial and physical changes on characters on key sequences involving sci-fi elements. The team also crafted really freaky looking makeup works on the Mars mutants, which really gave this film a strong sci-fi look. I also like the use of miniatures and physical sets that visualized the colony in Mars. By today’s standards, this movie’s visual effects still look great and I can only wish that filmmakers today would rely less on computers and go back to using practical effects (note: physical stuff) and, on certain occasions, optical effects.

Screenshot_20200524-000149_YouTube.jpg
Really great movie makeup work by Rob Bottin.

When it comes to the physical environments, this movie was filmed a lot in Mexico, specifically on key locations and on the sound stages in an established movie production studio there. Years ago, when I first learned for the first time that the trains used in the film were real-life trains that actually operated in one of Mexico’s real-life transportation systems, I was astounded! Paul Verhoeven himself confirmed that the train sequences were not only shot on location with real trains (note: monitors were added by the filmmakers to achieve a futuristic look) but the place’s architectural design were very unique and fitted nicely with the sci-fi concept of the movie.

The Mars colony set does not look fake to me. In fact, it really looks like it has long been lived in by people and the filmmakers nicely designed it. The Venusville set looks very convincing and, within the story, it got decayed due to long-term businesses, constant vehicular traffic and people who always flocked the place. The Mars hotel meanwhile has that cleaner, nicer look with tourists who paid good money for pleasure and discovery.

I should mention that the cinematography here done by Jost Vacano is excellent. The set-ups of the camera to get great angles of the actors is special, and the same can be said about the capturing of the spectacle that happened on-screen. The flashback of Mars inside Quaid’s mind had great, floating views of the location complete with perfectly smooth movement! Vacano also worked with Verhoeven in RoboCop.

Finally, the musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith is very memorable and this is my favorite among all his works. The music provided gave this movie a strong sci-fi feel and when suspense plays, the tunes added nicely to it. The most memorable music tracks here are the opening credits music (which is immersive) and the foot chase between Quaid and Richter on Earth (the music really keeps the pace high).

Conclusion

Screenshot_20200523-233244_YouTube.jpg
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid in a key scene.

Total Recall is a true, adulterated sci-fi action classic and easily it is still is one of the best ever movies I’ve seen from Schwarzenegger, Verhoeven and Stone. A few visual elements did not age well but its highly engaging story (combined with the strong performances and spectacle) remains its key selling point. There is a lot of ambiguity throughout the film and it will keep you wondering if the story (or at least portions of it) was reality or all a dream in Quaid’s mind. The way the story is structured combined with the excellent spectacle, this is a movie that is worth watching again and again! It remains an effective viewing experience for me until now.

As it contains the directorial trademarks of Verhoeven mixed with Schwarzenegger’s own style of expression and hard action, Total Recall is a very unique move of its own and it’s impossible to replicate nor match. Keep in mind that the 2012 remake of this movie was badly made (even though it had a big budget and highly advanced visual effects involving the use of computers) and ended up being a complete failure.

To put it short, Total Recall is more than just an action-packed thrill ride. It is also a mystery film that will keep viewers on the edge as the search for answers continues. Total Recall also explores the theme of what would you do when you realize that the life you remember turned to be an exceptional lie, and that you are literally caught in the middle of a web surrounded by dangerous, powerful people. I could never forget how my mind got motivated as I focused on the narrative the first time I ever saw this great movie decades ago. Total Recall was a sci-fi viewing experience like no other.

Overall, Total Recall (1990) is highly recommended! I urge you, my readers, to buy the movie on Blu-ray disc or watch it via streaming.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

X-Men at Toycon 2019

During my time at the Toycon 2019 at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City this past Saturday, I checked out the X-Men stuff. I am a long-time X-Men fan and that particular franchise is my favorite among all of Marvel’s superheroes.

As before, I looked for some back issues of X-Men at one of the few comic book sellers at the convention.

20190629_120630-1.jpg
Lots of old X-Men comic books displayed for sale.

20190629_121837.jpg
A copy of X-Men #1 (1991) drawn by Jim Lee featuring Magneto. I did not bother to buy this one.

After carefully searching what was available and calculating with my limited budget, I bought a few copies of Uncanny X-Men drawn in the early 1990s by Whilce Portacio. I intend to have these comic books signed by him in the near future.

As I went around the floor of the main exhibition hall of the convention center, I saw several X-Men statues and action figures. The one that caught my attention was the Dark Phoenix figure.

20190629_103252.jpg
Too bad the filmmakers could not find a way to replicate this classic Dark Phoenix form for the big screen. 

And then I went up to the 2nd level of the convention where there was one function hall that had several displays of toys and action figures for people to look at. Of course, the X-Men were there and here are some pictures I took for your viewing pleasure.

20190629_105852.jpg
I like this set up showing two opposing sides. I just wished Magneto had been placed closer fronting Charles Xavier.

20190629_105647.jpg
The 1990s X-Men look.

20190629_105836.jpg
Dazzler, X-Factor, Cable and some X-Men.

20190629_105843.jpg
Another 1990s X-Men set.

20190629_105635.jpg
I like the set up here with the X-Men and a fallen Sentinel.

For more X-Men insight, check out my Logan retro movie review, my X-Men #1 (1991) retro comic book review, my X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie review, my retro movie reviews of X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Check out my first Toycon 2019 article here.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Game Review: Gears of War 4 (Xbox One, Single Player Campaign)

Believe it or not, I completely missed out on Gears of War 4 on Xbox One back in 2016. I simply had other priorities and I was unable to raise the money needed to buy the game. A year after that, I downloaded the demo of the game and managed to play

Finally, thanks to a recent sale online at Xbox LIVE, I purchased the game at last and recently managed to finish it. Gears of War 4 proved to be a lot of fun and even until now it still is a gem of game design and visual art.

To put things in perspective, I played the first three main Gears of War games from 2006 to 2011 and those games were mainly designed by the talented Cliff Bleszinski who had NO INVOLVEMENT with the latest game. Gears of War 4, by the way, is the first-ever internally developed game of Microsoft through its studio The Coalition.

The good news is that Gears of War 4 is not only a fun and engaging game. It is also a continued evolution of the game franchise’s design and it is easily the best cover shooter game design to date.

On face value, it looks like the creative team led by Rod Fergusson (The Coalition studio leader) and director Chuck Osieja decided to play safe on game design by retaining the gameplay functions from the past. Quite easily, I managed to reclaim that old Gears of War feel in terms of control, shooting, moving and aiming. Like past GOW games, you must take cover for protection from the bullets fired by the enemies then peak, aim and shoot. Then when possible move forward to take cover at the next protective object and make your way to beat the other side. Then there is the classic reload function which, when well timed, can grant you temporary strong firepower.

Screenshot_20190509-193956_YouTube.jpg
Melee attacks in Gears of War 4 have improved and are more satisfying.

But as the game progressed, the new gameplay features emerged. For the first time, I can finally grab an enemy (who is crouched taking cover) from the other side of a protective object or barrier, pull the enemy and get to do a melee attack (or shoot with the gun). There is also the feature of the knocking the enemy off balance (by means of jumping over cover to kick the enemy on the other side) as well as performing the shoulder charge. Take note however that these new gameplay features – which add a lot of depth on the classic GOW gameplay – can be used by the enemies against you.

And then there are the new weapons like the Buzzkill (watch those flying sawblades ricochet!) and the Dropshot (challenging to use but very satisfying when the target gets hit!) that add new dimension to the gameplay.

More on gameplay, if you are expecting enemy artificial intelligence (AI) to be the same as before (remember all the Locusts?), you will realize that’s not the case at all. The new enemies behave differently in combat and you will be compelled to change your strategies. Expect to see the enemies (which include robots) be more tactical with their movements and attacks, and you will also realize you will need to move out of cover more and search for a new place to take cover at.

That’s not all. The weather effects impact the gameplay a lot this time. There are these windflares that not only blow strongly (watch the environment move) but also generate electricity that you must avoid touching. When the weather changes, you will not only have to take cover but be more strategic moving around as well as adjusting your aim when firing at the enemy (example: strong wind can alter the direction of the Buzzkill sawblade you fire). Lastly, there is a motorcycle chase scene that is quite action packed!

Visuals? This game really looks very great! The art is top-notch. The animation, the textures, the special effects and lighting effects really make a great showcase of the Xbox One, especially the Xbox One X (4K resolution with high-dynamic range). The character faces are very detailed and very photo-realistic! Facial expressions really will convince you into thinking you’re watching real people instead of computer-generated ones.

When it comes to storytelling, Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the previous game. You play as JD Fenix (son of hero Marcus Fenix and Anya Stroud) who is accompanied by Del and Kait. In terms of personality, JD is witty, striving to figure out things and he does not carry the cynical mindset of his father. Del and Kait are likable characters for different reasons. Del is also witty while Kait has the strong, fighting lady personality. The good news here is that their respective voice actors performed nicely.

screenshot_20190509-193834_youtube.jpg
Father and Son.

Back to the plot, the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) has been reformed but something is not right and right from the start JD and Del deserted the coalition to join the group called the Outsiders. Government leadership is felt in the story and having the COG as the anti-hero element really makes Gears of War 4’s world really look and feel new. Forget about the memories of fighting for the COG in the old GOW games, Gears of War 4 is a whole new world to figure out what’s been happening while fighting to survive. If you are the kind of gamer who has the anti-authoritarian mindset, then this game is for you.

Strangely enough, this game’s story has some notable similarities with the 2015 blockbuster film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Without spoiling the story, I should say that Gears of War icons like Marcus Fenix (the central figure of the franchise) return in supporting roles. Instead of being the hero, he is the mentor to his son JD and even to you the gamer.

While the gameplay is excellent and deeper than ever before, the storytelling this time lacks the depth of Gears of War 3 but in fairness, this new game’s story had to show how much had changed in the world and society in general. Gears of War 3, by comparison, is a war story and the resulting build-up from the first two games led to it having a very engaging conclusion.

Back to Gears of War 4, the ending lacked punch and yet it has a lot of intrigue or even shock, especially if you paid very close attention to the small but key details in the previous games. The ending feels underwhelming as it happened following the high-octane, final battle sequence of the game. Although the conclusion lacked punch, I still felt satisfied. By the way, there is a post-credits ending scene to watch out for.

Overall Gears of War 4 is easily the best 3rd person-view cover shooter and is a true evolution of the Gears of War game design. Now that the game costs much less, it is a great bargain! At the same time, it makes sense now to play GOW4 as Gears 5 (Gears of War 5) is expected to be released this year.

Gears of War 4 is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this game review engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Shazam!

I’ll just say it out loud – I had a lot of fun watching Shazam! at the local cinema today. I’m not even a fan of the character Shazam/Captain Marvel (as he was called prior to Marvel’s legal takeover of the name) and still I enjoyed watching the movie. I rarely watch comedies in the cinema but I still had a lot of fun with Shazam!

Whatever challenges the filmmakers led by director David F. Sandberg faced, they succeeded in making their movie fun, action-packed and more importantly telling a story with a lot of heart with the main characters. It also proved crucial that Warner Bros. marketing team did not spoil the pleasant surprise the movie had all along and that surprise alone is already worth the price of admission.

Shazam! introduces moviegoers to Billy Batson who has moved away from multiple homes as he searches for his mother whom he got separated from as a child. At the new family he moved into, he meets Freddy Freeman who lives with a disability. Things change when Billy meets an aging wizard named Shazam and gains his power. By simply saying the wizard’s name, lightning strikes Billy to become the muscular, adult caped superhero. Along the way an obsessed Dr. Sivana rises with a lust for power which only means trouble for the Billy Batson/Shazam and his friends.

Why is storytelling a success in this movie? Answer – it was done with a lot of heart and director Sandberg succeeded in getting very strong performances from the cast. You will really sympathize with Asher Angel as Billy Batson who lives with a missing link in his personal life and often finds himself lonely. This is a movie about a teenager who does not aspire to become a superhero at all but rather find his mother anyway he could. The superhero aspect of the film is an extension (but a very significant one) of that core concept.

In terms of storytelling tone, Shazam! looks so much like a comedy based on the way it was marketed but rest assured the movie is not a dominant comedy at all. In fact it has a lot of dramatic scenes and even some horror elements spread around. Darkness? There is some of that by means of horror elements. Grit? Very little of it too. Cynicism? Non-existent. Clearly the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada continues to move away from the darkness, the grit and cynicism of Zack Snyder’s influence and for me that is a good thing.

In terms of performances, this film has a lot of good acts. While Asher Angel excelled as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi truly brought Shazam/Captain Marvel to life on the big screen. Not only does he really look like the superhero (as if he was ripped straight from the comic books), Levi was successful in playing his character with the act and mindset of a teenage boy. Jack Dylan Grazer was pretty engaging as Freddy Freeman (who is the in-movie geek and superhero culture researcher) and so was Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. The other cast members like Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Faithe Herman were good players as well. To sum it up, the quality of performances from the cast is varied and at the same time of good quality and nice artistry. From drama to humor, these cast members really pulled it off.

Shazam! was made to tell a compelling story that can be taken seriously while at the same time it delivered the humor and spectacle to satisfy moviegoers who want their superhero cinema experience to be enjoyable. When it comes to weaknesses, I say that the first twenty minutes was kinda slow. While the film is indeed very wholesome, the horrific imagery of the monsters can scare little kids and compel their parents to cover their eyes.

As a superhero comedy, it definitely is a more fun to watch than any of the Deadpool movies. As a superhero spectacle, Shazam! is quite comparable not only with DC Cinematic Universe movies but also with other humor-laced superhero movies from Marvel Studios. As a DC Cinematic Universe movie, Shazam! is 3rd best to Wonder Woman.

Given its high amount of fun, engaging storytelling, good comedy and solid performances, Shazam! is highly recommended! I urge you to watch it as soon as you can and for the best visual experience, I recommended watching it on an IMAX screen if you can afford it. Shazam! is a lot of fun and you will love it! Very clearly the DC Cinematic Universe continues to improve and its future under Warner Bros. and Walter Hamada looks very bright!

For your enjoyment, posted below are some videos related to Shazam.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.