Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-27-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

AEW’s schedule has been rather wonky these last few weeks, hasn’t it?  It’s not just that the New Year’s special had to be pushed back a week due to unfortunate circumstances, we’re already coming up on their next special episode which is called Beach Break (not Beach BASH as I’m pretty sure I called it last week) and they also moved their Revolution PPV back a week for reasons that are still not entirely clear.  Perhaps things getting moved around so much is why last week felt like a bit of a letdown and frankly it doesn’t bode well for this episode as they’ll probably save everything REALLY good for next week’s special, but is that the pessimism of an overly cynical jerk or the wisdom of a perfectly calibrated cynical jerk?  Let’s find out!!

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Eddie Kingston Vs. Lance Archer

I still have no idea where this story is going, but I’ll be darned if this isn’t the most fun I’ve had with one of these matches!  It’s basically that one Three Stooges short where Curly has to box against the champ Killer Kilduff with Kingston playing the part of the darn fool stuck in the ring with a monster and honestly it’s a pretty darn good comparison considering how he works in the ring.  Eddie Kingston is one of the best floppers in this business because he doesn’t just sell the hits; he makes his opponents look like the biggest bullies imaginable with over the top flailing, great facial expressions, and the nerve to take some seriously nasty bumps.  The most terrifying was when Archer lifts him up for a Chokeslam, but then drops him over the ropes and onto the apron which SHOULD have shattered his spine but luckily enough he was just fine.  Can’t imagine Jerry Howard going for something like that, but then he did take his fair share of abuse at a time where OSHA would have been considered Communist propaganda.  What the heck am I even on about?  In any case, Archer takes his sweet time knocking Kingston all over the place and it’s definitely his match to win… but then Butcher & Blade drag Jake Roberts out from the back which distracts him and the ref long enough for The Bunny to hand Kingston a pair of brass knuckles which he uses to clobber Archer across the temple and get the pin.  I’ve been waiting for weeks for this faction to figure out what it was going to be and this feels like they’ve finally figured it out.  Kingston is not a killer and frankly neither are The Butcher & The Blade.  What they are though are scheming jerk wads who can take advantage of a situation and come out on top, so as long as their opponents have someone they wish to protect, Kingston and company can take advantage of that and score a cheap win.  The match was a lot of fun even though I did worry about Kingston’s health throughout, and it definitely feels like they’ve got an angle to build off of instead of just bouncing between ideas and matches until something sticks.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-27-2021)”

Twenty Years of Halo: The Flood & First Strike

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

With the first Halo game in our rearview mirror, we return to the novels with the first one (The Flood) being a novelization of the game.  Okay, by “rearview mirror” I meant “firmly still in the middle of”, but a book is a great chance to expand upon the universe and fill in the cracks of the game’s narrative which certainly has a few spots that could be improved with some character development.  Not only that, but we’ll be looking at First Strike which will be the bridge between Combat Evolved and Halo 2; a game I still haven’t played yet am and very much looking forward to experiencing for the first time!  Speaking of time, let’s not waste anymore and get started on these books!!

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Halo: The Flood (Novel) – 2003

Written by William C Dietz

What makes this book unique in the series is that it’s based on one of the games as opposed to all the other books which are stories taking place in-between them.  Because of this, half of the novel is just straight up adapting the campaign which means we go through each of the levels and get to have all of the familiar set pieces described to us; something that would have been fine if these sequences were written with any particular flair, but much like the last book the writing is too utilitarian to add much flavor to the proceedings and it feels like I’m reading the novelization of someone’s Let’s Play.  Having just played the game right before picking up the book, it makes all these scenes feel redundant, and I’m not sure who would be buying these books other than those who have already played the campaign.  This is most prominent in the Flood containment facility (mission 343 Guilty Spark) where Keyes and his men were overrun by The Flood and where Master Chief encounters them for the first time.  That would have been a PERFECT point in the book to keep things quiet and not indulge in action scenes to build the mood, but because there were Covenant troops there in the campaign they HAVE to be there in the novel as well.  I understand needing to have some enemies milling about for you to fight in the game, but in the book it undercuts the severity of the Flood and it would have been way more haunting if there were NO Covenant there to kill.  Heck, even better you could have a few Covenant there scared out of their minds and not even fighting back to further cement the horror that we’re about to run into; just liked the crazed marine in the game itself.  On that note, I will say that the adaptation DOES work in regards to adding story to the already established story bits.  Master Chief is mostly silent throughout the game, so adding dialogue to certain scenes like when he meets the terrified marine or during the Library chapter where he’s trying to talk to 343 Guilty Spark (The Monitor) are definitely moments where they added something to the material, but for the most part his story contains rather rote action set pieces.

Nothing gets the blood pumping like watching someone have to trudge back because they got a crappy loadout!
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: The Flood & First Strike”

Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #36

Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back for another ironically late recap for a comic about a character is super-fast!  Now that the Bad Guys mini-series is complete and we know how Dr. Starline survived to the end of that, we can focus on what he plans to do now that he has tails and Rouge in his grasp!  Will he succeed in his latest scheme, whatever that happens to be, and will this mini-story arc come to a satisfying conclusion?  Let’s find out!!

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The issue begins with Starline basking in his own genius at stealing The Green Goblin’s idea from the first Spider-Man movie; namely to make the hero choose between their duty to the innocent and the safety of their friends!  If Sonic and Shadow don’t go stop that avalanche he caused, the Chateau is going to be destroyed along with everyone inside!  Naturally Sonic decides to save the people, but Shadow being the paragon of ambivalence towards good and evil doesn’t take a second look backwards as he stomps his way towards Starline.  Gotta say, as much as I’ve found Shadow to be an unbearable and cringy bore in every other piece of Sonic media, I think the writing for him has bene top notch and gives a bit of depth to a character that only exists to be everything Sonic is not.  He’s not happy go lucky, he doesn’t make friends, he’s just dark and brooding.  However, this gives him a bit more personality to work with and his single minded pursuit of Starline for humiliating him earlier in this arc feels quite genuine nad in its own way kind of engaging.

“’Sealed my fate’?  Where’d you get that one from; the back of a Twilight book?”     “DO NOT MOCK WHAT YOU FAIL TO COMPREHEND!”     “Whatever, you wannabe Vegeta.”
Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #36”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-20-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Yes, this one is a tad on the late side which by now shouldn’t be a surprise for any of you, but it was a busy week for the rest of the site which, if you haven’t been perusing lately, is full of delightful articles and reviews for you all to enjoy!  In any case, we’re in a bit of an odd situation where we’re just coming off of their New Year’s Bash even and we’re already closing in another special in just a few weeks with their similarly titled Beach Bash.  The episode is certainly not in the most envious position as the very deliberate nadir between two big shows, but can AEW make even their slower and less explosive episodes pop like a PPV main event?  Let’s find out!!

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The Dark Order (Silver, Reynolds, and Colt Cabana) & Hangman Adam Page Vs. Chaos Project & The Hybrid2 – Eight Man Tag Match

This match was set up in celebration of Negative One’s birthday (Brodie Jr) and the best part is that they brought a cake out and tried to light it; only to realize that Daily’s Place is an OUTSIDE venue and so Grayson and Angels had to cover the candles while Anna Jay tried to light them.  Silver then leads the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday which is as endearing as it is out of tune.  Then Chaos Project come out so that Dr. Luther can heckle the birthday boy, and I didn’t know what I was expecting his voice to sound like but he kinda sounds like an off brand Chris Jericho which is perhaps why they get along so well.  Luther gets all up in this kid’s face and tells him that he’s going to RUIN his birthday which sets The Dark Order off as they start hammering this Mr. Burns wannabe, but then TH2 come out from the back to even the odds and the brawling makes its way to the outside of the ring.  Then Adam Page’s music hits and he has perhaps the BEST entrance of his entire AEW career!  He runs out and jumps from the stage onto the crowd below which is pretty standard, but the camera man was SO on point here that Page should send him a fruit basket.  Dude was right there below the stage so that he was pointing his camera UP at Page and followed him as he sailed through the air; making it look like he was straight up flying before crashing down like a meteorite!  As for the match itself, it’s pretty good and more or less a chaotic mess of dudes jumping around and taking bumps, but it definitely goes with super hero themed birthday party atmosphere of it all; right down to Dr Luther taking a bump into a cake.  Well he KINDA took the bump.  He instinctively put his arm between him and the table which is a good thing, but it also left his face about an inch over the cake so he had to mash himself into it to get the spot right.  With Luther out of the way and TH2 indisposed, Serpentico is alone in the ring which leaves Reynolds, Silver, and Hangman to do that awesome combination move that I love so much!  Forearm, Step Up, Stunner, Buckshot Lariat, and a bridged German Suplex for the pin!  Oh, but they aren’t done with him yet!  Negative One, the presumptive new leader of The Dark Order, has Stu Grayson hold up Serpentico so that he can wail on him with a Kendo Stick and then follows up with a stack of papers to the face that Serpentico sells like a face full of hydrochloric acid!  The match itself was probably shorter than all the shenanigans going on around it and I’m sure that’ll annoy a lot of people.  I certainly do hope that the Dark order retains at least some of its menace even if they are going in this lighthearted direction, but as a way to start off the show, it’s fun, it’s lighthearted, and how you can be mad about a kid getting to celebrate his birthday with a bunch of wrestlers?  So now that the match is over with Negative One getting his revenge and The Dark Order stand tall once again; it’s time for the big question and Jon Silver gets down on one knee to ask it!  Will Adam Page join The Dark Order!?  Well, the answer is… no.  Clearly The Dark Order wasn’t expecting that because before he can even get the full answer out they prematurely set off a pre-planned celebration; complete with confetti, titantron graphics, and cheesy fanfare to make the moment all the more tragic!  They even got a bunch of shirtless creepers in jeans and hats to boot scoot out from the back before being chased off by Stu Grayson!  Look it’s not them, it’s him!  He’s done the group thing before and he’s just not in a place in his life where he wants to do that again.  They can still be friends, right?  Well everyone looks utterly crushed about this and Page sheepishly heads to the back so maybe its choppy waters going forward as Page managed to tick off yet another faction in AEW.  Gotta feel sorry for the guy as he keeps getting himself stuck in these situations he’s just not equipped for.  A month ago I would have said this was a great time for the Dark Order to reassert themselves as bad guys and start feuding with Page, but it doesn’t look like we’re heading in that direction any time soon so we’ll have to wait and see what the plan is going forward.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-20-2021)”

Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Godzilla vs Kong)

Godzilla vs Kong and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

Warner Bros’ bold move to release their movies on streaming the same day as theaters is going to be one of the more interesting stories of 2021, and this film is probably going to be the one indicate its direction.  Sure they gave us Wonder Woman 1984, but that had been delayed so long and theaters were still staying closed for the foreseeable future that it almost felt like WB throwing the world a bone or perhaps even a Christmas present.  A present that was pretty wonky and not nearly as its predecessor, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.  This one is a bit different because the vaccine means that people are going to try and get back to a normal life; some faster than others while the responsibility of such actions remains… dubious at best.  I’m HOPING things get fixed before the Summer, but I’m guessing there’s going to be more than enough people out there saying it’s already fixed today.  So with that said, this movie is one that COULD conceivably be delayed for a full theater release without waiting too long, but WB is committed to this strategy and we’ll have to see how it pays off for them; if releasing these big blockbusters on streaming will build up HBO Max enough to offset the costs, or if they are just throwing money down the drain because they couldn’t wait for a safer time to release.  As interesting as all that is though, we’re here to talk about the trailer that they released so let’s take a look at it!

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My biggest fear going into this is that I was NOT a fan of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and that this would be a continuation of that.  I found the whole thing rather insufferable with just how much the overwrought drama weighed down the monster fighting action of which there was already a dearth of.  Oh sure, you can go back to the Japanese Godzilla films and point out how much human drama was in THOSE, but first I wouldn’t say they were SPECTACULAR either, and second they didn’t have a bloated runtime dragging things down even more.  Twenty minutes of Kaiju action in a ninety minute movie is better than twenty-five minutes of Kaiju action in a hundred and thirty minute movie; especially when the action itself is obscured by so much bad weather.  Frankly the giant dudes in costumes brawling in full day light may not have looked the best but had a lot more charm than King of the Monsters. 

TEAM KONG, ALL THE WAY!!
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Godzilla vs Kong)”

Cinema Dispatch: Sightless

Sightless and all the images you see in this review are owned by MarVista Entertainment
Directed by Cooper Karl

Alright, look.  As much as I would LOVE to do nothing more than watch wrestling and play Halo until the world gets back to normal, I need to get back into some regular routines and that’s going to start with reviewing some movies.  Yes, this movie was released last year and I could have watched it on digital, but it just got its Netflix release and frankly I never even HEARD of it until I was looking for something to watch.  Warner Bros is going to do its best to keep me relevant in the coming months with their movies coming straight to HBO Max the same time as they hit theaters, but I’ll be filling the cracks with whatever catches my eye and, perhaps most importantly, whatever I can watch with the BAJILLION streaming services I’m already paying for.  So then!  Does this thriller deserve a second chance at relevance now that it’s graced the front page of Netflix, or is this just more filler for an already bloated catalog of films that no one has heard of?  Let’s find out!!

Ellen Ashland (Madelaine Petsch) is having a rough go of it.  Not only was she attacked by a masked stranger, they sprayed her in the eyes with a chemical that has left her permanently blind and now she has to move to a new apartment to adjust to living a life without vision.  Thankfully she comes from money and her brother not only covers the apartment but also pays for a nurse named Clayton (Alexander Koch) to take care of her and ease the transition.  Ellen is certainly not taking this turn of events with good humor and spends a lot of her time feeling miserable for herself despite the constant efforts by Clayton to get her to open up and embrace her new life, but as the days stretch on she starts to notice strange things around her.  There’s a couple next door that seem to be hiding some awful secrets, she starts to feel and hear things that may or may not be there, and you’d think she’d get at least one Get Well card!  I know that forwarding mail can be a pain, but still!  All of these strange things quickly add up and she finds herself in a situation where she can’t trust anything; least of all her own sense.  Is Ellen stuck with a bad case of paranoia after such a terrible attack and a life changing event?  Is there something in her past that’s coming back to bite her now that she’s in a much more vulnerable situation?  Is it just me, or does this dude look like five hot guys mashed into one; from Tom Welling circa 2003 to that Philosophy Tube guy.

“You can’t see me, so imagine me however you’d like.”     “Okay, I’m picturing Nicolas Cage.”     “I… don’t think I have that acting range.”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Sightless”

Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Combat Evolved

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved was developed by Bungie and ported by Gearbox and 343 Studios
Destiny 2 was developed by Bungie

I don’t remember what year I got this game, but it was the PC version that I played back in the day and I loved every second of it!  Well… at least every second that I could remember.  The first couple of stages of this game are etched into my memory clear as day, but there’s a general fuzziness around this game outside of the top notch moment to moment action.  The whole point of me doing this series is that I clearly remember having a GREAT time with this game and the third one, but so much of it is hazy and without context so now’s the time to really sink my teeth into this game and try to understand I found so engaging about it all those years ago!

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We’ll get into how it connects to The Fall of Reach soon enough, but narratively the game does a great job of getting you right into the action and not fussing too much with the details.  Without knowing the first thing about the Spartan project, MJOLNIR armor, or even the name of the enemy, it’s almost second nature to put yourself into the main character and start playing the role of the unflappable badass who can fire big guns and punch alien baddies with the force of a jackhammer!  Perhaps you may not have seen Aliens or Starship Troopers when you first played this game, but the whole idea of SPACE MARINES and wars with aliens is deeply ingrained in popular culture (at least here in the US) and creates a great foundation to build a franchise off of; allowing the overly familiar setup to do much of the heavy lifting while also providing more than enough context of the much bigger world we’re in and the stakes going forward.  Master Chief as well works on this level of rehashing old tropes to build something new.  His design is instantly iconic with the metallic green armor and the reflective faceplate who still conveys personality through body language and the performance of Steve Downes without giving us TOO much detail that you can’t easily slip into his character.  What do you know about the Chief going into this game?  Absolutely nothing, and yet more than enough.  He’s the hero who’s there to kick butt and take names.  His job is to protect his fellow soldiers and to fight the bad guys which makes him a useful blunt object that the UNSC relies on, but also one that is nearly manipulated into unspeakable evil by the eventual antagonist of the story.

“So we get the Index, activate Halo, and then we all get cake?”     “Sure, buddy!  Sounds like a plan to me!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Combat Evolved”

Super Comics: Sonic Bad Guys – #4

Sonic Bad Guys as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

You know, I spent a good month catching up on the Sonic Comics which I felt very accomplished for doing, and then the holiday season hit which threw everything out of whack.  Now here I am a month later once again trying to polish off this backlog I’ve built for myself; not to mention trying to keep up with the new stuff and my VERY EXTENSIVE Halo Retrospective that I’d be VERY appreciative of if you gave that a look!  In any case, it’s time for me to finish what I started and bring this mini-series to a close!  Does Sonic Bad Guys finish things off with a brilliantly realized final issue or does it fail harder than Eggman fails to take over the world every other week?  Let’s find out!!

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When we last left our favorite rapscallions, they were about to swarm on Dr. Starline for his obvious betrayal.  Sadly for them, the not so good doctor has a bit of Walter White in him, and prepared a foolproof plan for this very likely scenario.  No, he doesn’t have a machine gun car ready to go.  Instead, he activates the Tri-core and bolts out of there with Sonic Super Speed, but not before giving them a taste of his awesome power!

“Lay off, bro!  He bopped me in the sok!!”
Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic Bad Guys – #4”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-13-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 2

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with night two of AEW’s New Year’s Spectacular; a good two weeks after the New Year came and went!  Yeah, look at me of all people pointing out that someone is late on something; glass houses and all that.  In any case, last week’s show didn’t really land for me, but I still found a lot of it to be quite entertaining.  Do things come together more smoothly this week, or will it somehow be an even bigger mess!?  Let’s find out!!

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Pac Vs. Eddie Kingston

Pac is accompanied to the ring by The Lucha Bros while Kingston is accompanied by The Butcher, The Blade, & The Bunny

I think the problem with Kingston lately is that he needs a real ace in the hole; not mid carders like Butcher & Blade but a big unstoppable beast that will do anything he says, or better yet maybe a tag team that is truly unstoppable and respected!  TOO BAD HE LOST THE LUCHA BROS, but I guess with Pac returning, AEW thought they were better off with him.  As for the match itself, Pac takes a deceive lead off the bat and it’s not until interference from The Bunny that Kingston starts getting the heat.  Pac definitely looks stronger here than he has in a while; even during the heat where he’s practically egging Kingston on and it’s ultimately a short lived advantage as he soon regains control of the match.  However, Pac’s fatal flaw seems to be that he takes his time; not in a sportsmanlike baby face way where he makes sure his opponent is okay to continue, but to admire his own work and these are the spots where Kingston can get a few shots.  He’s quickly put back down by Pac, particularly one spot where Eddie eats a VERY crisp kip up while sitting on the top turnbuckle and looks directly in the camera with a face like a cartoon character (only missing the tweeting birds circling his head), but Pac could have finished this a lot sooner if he just went for it at full force and didn’t give Kingston a chance to breath.  Pac ends up getting a Superplex off of the cartoon spot and Kingston sells his arm and neck which means he’s on borrowed time.  He goes for a DDIT spot but fails to land it due to his injury,  and he eats a Black Arrow from Pac which leads to the pin.   Pac, living up to his bad guy bona-fides, immediately puts Kingston in the Brutalizer after the bell rings.  Before it can turn into an all-out brawl, Lance Archer and Jake Roberts hit the ring to break it up… for some reason.  There’s something about Pac needing to be on the same page, but I don’t know what he’s talking about.  After all is said and done, not a bad opener!  The Bucks didn’t start things off this this week as Nick is healing from a pretty bad bruise, but it was still fun and definitely showed the strength of these two men better than their other recent matches have.  Kingston’s got the mouth, and there are few with a better mouth than him, but he doesn’t have the muscle to back it up and I hope someone else notices this if they plan on continuing this feud.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (01-13-2021) – New Year’s Smash Night 2”

Twenty Years of Halo: The Cortana Letters & The Fall of Reach

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Our long journey to explore the Halo series begins well before the first game even came out as Bungie was building its universe and teasing their fans long before they even knew what the game was going to be!  The seemingly haphazard nature of the production of Halo: Combat Evolved which went through name changes and story changes all the way down to switching the genre at something approaching the last minute can certainly be reflected in these two early works which are interesting time capsules of that period of the development, but beyond their places as being the earlies entries on the timeline, do they hold up as genuinely interesting pieces of media in their own right?  Let’s find out!!

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The Cortana Letters – 1999

Having read these letters, I’m starting to remember why I didn’t bother diving deep into this stuff back when I was playing it!  As far as I can tell, the Cortana letters are the first things Halo related that was released to the public; in this case being eight cryptic e-mails sent from someone at Bungie claiming to be Cortana that were sent to a Marathon fan page; Marathon, in case you were wondering, being a game series that Bungie had worked on in the nineties that may or may not connect to Halo in some tangential way.  I guess I’ll learn more about any implicit or explicit connections the further I get into the lore of this, but needless to say that these letters are not the ideal way to START your Halo journey if you wish to experience the series from the beginning.  They are intentionally vague and full of cryptic language, and their status as canonical is dubious at best; especially since Halo was still in the conceptual stages in 1999 and was MASSIVELY overhauled when Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 2000.

Follow the white rabbit!  Save the cheerleader, save the world!  WHO ARE THE PATRIOTS!?
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: The Cortana Letters & The Fall of Reach”