Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 2014 Look-Ahead

I'm introducing another new feature on this blog.  This is the Monthly Look-Ahead.  So that you, being helpless consumers lost in the stormy seas of several billion or so pop culture items, can know exactly what to see and what not to see, or what to play or not to play.  To elaborate, its me using my gigantic and incredibly fashionable brain to predict what is going to be good and what is going to suck in the world of movies and video games.  Of course, that gigantic brain is wrong about 30% of the time when it comes to predictions, so maybe my hubris will be struck down with lightning from the heavens and "RoboCop" is going to be the best movie of 2014.  I doubt it.

So first up, the motion pictures:

"The LEGO Movie" (February 7th) - Its LEGOs, in a movie, having an adventure.  Its a movie I have to see.  Having been born up as a male (so my parents claim) in the last half century, I have played a lot of LEGOs.  I used to build capital-class starships out of my 5,000 LEGO box, which were solid as bricks and would have made for excellent blunt weapons against zombie hordes.  And in case you weren't sold already, the movie has Batman.  It appears to be a fun and not-very-serious comedy, for example the evil villain attacking LEGO world is using glue to seal the pieces together in the greatest of childhood playtime heresies.  There is a chance it might come off as juvenile, but I think its going to be a great ride.

"The Monuments Men" (February 7th) - George Clooney is directing and starring in this World War II drama featuring a band of elderly out-of-shape art scholars running up to the front lines of the Allied advance through France to save precious artworks and artifacts from Nazi destruction.  So it appears to be something of a comedy with some interesting historical and cultural questions, like is saving some dusty artwork really all that important when compared to fighting a war for freedom and whatever else the politicians are using to justify your death this year?  However, there is a pretty big omen of disaster floating over this production.  It was originally scheduled for a December 18th release, well within Oscar country, but then got delayed two months, surrendering any hopes for awards, into the relatively mediocre month of February.  This will either turn out to be perfectly fine, or the 2014 "Gangster Squad".

"Vampire Academy" (February 7th) - Its a teen fantasy film, so my Twilight alarms are blaring at full volume. And wasn't this movie a joke in a "Simpsons" episode a few seasons ago?  They were trying to write a fantasy book called "The Troll Twins of Underbridge Academy" and the malevolent publisher butchered the work into "The Vampire Twins of Transylvania Prep".  Then Neil Gaiman stole the credit for the book... and he's actually illiterate ...It was a "Simpsons" episode, it got weird.  I would say, don't see this unless you're a fool, like me.  I probably will see this because I am a seriously stupid man and writing reviews of Twilight-esque films is always a great way to get a lonely Friday.

I would not buy that for a dollar.

"RoboCop" (February 12th) - I feel like Little Cindy Lou Who in "The Grinch", walking up to this strange man in my house, asking him with the most sad and innocent voice:  "Hollywood, why?  Why are you remaking 'RoboCop', why?"  And then the Hollywood-Grinch laughs maniacally and kicks me square in the balls as he leaves with my hopes and dreams destroyed forever.  No, I am not looking forward to this movie.  I am not hopeful, in any way.  Its rated PG-13, RoboCop still has a human hand, the trailers make it look like the film has completely forgotten what made the Paul Verhoven film fun and original.  Its going to be as bad as the "Total Recall" remake from 2012.  But if there's any silver lining:  Michael Keaton is back out of semi-retirement to be in this movie.  He's my favorite Batman, so maybe he can save this thing.  I'll give it a chance, it might surprise me.  But I am bracing myself for a total lack of surprise.

"About Last Night" (February 14th) - No.

"Winter's Tale" (February 14th) - I'm not entirely sure what "Winter's Tale" is.  It appears to be some kind of love story set across the centuries starring Colin Farrel and Jessica Brown Findlay.  Its based on a 1983 alternative history novel where New York City is inhabited by angels and fairies, which I've never read.  This is one of those movies I'll have to wait for reviews before deciding upon it.  Akiva Goldsman is directing, and really, you could not have picked a more inconsistent man.  Nearly all of his writing credits are mediocre, with a particular low point being "Batman & Robin".  This is Goldsman's first directing credit, and it seems to be honestly a passion project of his.  So either its going to be a hilarious trainwreck or something really special and unique.  Time will tell.

"Pompeii" (February 21st) - Paul W. S. Anderson is directing, so inevitably its going to suck, and suck hard.  Its a disaster movie set in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Ancient Roman times, starring Jon Snow as a gladiator in a star-crossed love story... Its going to suck.  That's all you need to know.

"Three Days to Kill" (February 21st) - Kevin Costner is an assassin with daughter problems.  It might be decent but honestly I'm struggling to stay awa----zzzzzzzZZZZzzzZZZZzzzzZZZZZ....

"Hey, JC, JC, won't you smile at me?"

"Son of God" (February 28th) - This "movie" is really a cannibalized re-edit of the 2013 "History" Channel Miniseries "The Bible", taking the Jesus scenes and creating a movie out of them.  If you're the religious type, this is totally a movie you're going to love just because Jesus is in it.  And if you need something more sacrilegious, you have to admit that Portuguese model Diogo Morgado makes one ridiculously handsome Jesus.  "Oh, I'm sorry, you were saying something about camels and needles, I wasn't listening because your eyes are just... so very dreamy..."  Look at that adoring crowd, I bet Diogo gets that kind of reaction when walking around in real life.  But as for "Son of God" as a movie:  if you like good movies, I doubt you'll have much time for this.  I'm going to see it for shock value alone.

"Welcome to Yesterday" (February 28th) - Its a found-footage time travel movie, so its just like "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones".  The trailers promise that a group of idiot teenagers will build a time machine, use it to act like douche bags to their overworked chemistry teacher, win the lottery, and then inevitably bad things will happen and they'll have to reset time.  If the characterization is there it could be the next "Chronicle".  I am not so hopeful.  Why?  Because this movie is being made by Platinum Dunes, a production company that used to specialize in terrible horror remakes, and have never ever made a good movie.

"Non-Stop" (February 28th) - Liam Neeson kicks ass on an airplane.  Enough said, I'm there.

And now for the other kind of motion pictures, but ones that are more interactive:

 I'm feeling pretty jealous of that butterfly right now.

"Bravely Default" (February 7th) - The demo was pretty awful thanks to crushingly brutal grinding and level gaps, which I've been told is not true to the actual game.  "Bravely Default" is the first classic Final Fantasy game Square Enix has made in years, and makes for the most exciting JRPG development probably of the entire year.  If you miss classic turn-based Job Class gameplay, a high adventure game where you travel the world and fight through dungeons saving town after town, you'll want to play "Bravely Default".  It looks beautiful, the heart and soul seems to be exactly in the right place.  I cannot wait.

"Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII" (February 11th) - No.  Not even once.  The heart and soul could not be more in the wrong place.  Not only is it a sequel to "Final Fantasy XIII", one of the most ill-conceived and awful games I played last generation, its also a sequel to "Final Fantasy XIII-2", the other most ill-concieved and awful games I played last generation.  The trailers and demos so far promise more of the same.  Lightning wanders through cyberpunk mardi gras in what appears to be a stubborn refusal to have any kind of artistic coherency.  Its just flashy bullshit, on every level, with no substance behind any of it.  If you are fooled by this kind of blitz of colors and nonsense, you have a tiny mind.  I've been following this game since it released in Japan last year, and even amongst the hard core "Final Fantasy XIII" fans, this game is considered truly awful and mediocre in every way.  If you're looking for closure after all the nonsense in the XIII saga, you will not find it here*.  It is unbelievably bad.  Do NOT play this game.

"Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" (February 21st) - Its a WiiU exclusive game, so that means I won't be able to play it.  But it looks more or less exactly the same as the other modern "Donkey Kong Country" games, which have all been fun and challenging platformers.  The WiiU might be a dying game system, but for some sick reason it just keeps getting all these great games, almost as if I have to buy it some day.

"Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2" (February 25th) - The original "Lords of Shadow" game was one title I skipped with great purpose because it looked exactly like what it was:  a rip-off of "God of War" which very shamelessly stole its boss fights from "Shadow of Colossus".  "Lords of Shadow 2" continues that same tradition, its made by the same MercuryStream people, but they are promising that it will be more of an open world Metroidvania experience.  And I've always wanted to play a 3D Metroidvania game.  Unfortunately, since its being made by those same people, I trust them as much as I trust the NSA agent currently tapping my cell phone.  I need to see the reviews first before committing to this.

It looks pretty at least.

"Thief" (February 25th) - Eidos has been making "Thief" or "Thief 4" for a very long time, and it has suffered some severe development hell.  I don't envy this production team, having to make a sequel to a very well-respected first-person stealth franchise, especially when "Dishonored" stole most of their thunder by making a first-person Victorian stealth game two years ago.  I never played any Thief game, or "Dishonored" so maybe "Thief" can make for something cool and new for me to try.  I am always open to new experiences (hint hint: Diogo Morgado, call me).  But games that escape development hell do not often reward players for their patience, it seems that the developers here had some serious difficulties translating what kind of game they wanted to make into existence, which does not bode well.  But hey, it has a chance, that's more than some of us get.

* IRON-CLAD SPOILERS.  DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT LIKE SPOILERS:  This is how the so-called "Lightning Saga" ends - she kills a giant god thing, and then goes to France.  Yup, France.  This does not make any more sense in context.


  1. Please tell me one of those "Five Worst Mistakes in Final Fantasy History" is going to be Square announcing that Caius is canonically the most powerful villain in the franchise. It's what I feel to be their #1 mistake.

    1. It will not be individual games or characters. And trust me, if I start adding individual plot points in the FFXIII games, I'll have to make it the 500 Worst Mistakes in Final Fantasy History.

  2. Definitely gonna put Bravely Default on my wishlist. I'd love to try that out.

  3. I grew up with Legos and with the way the trailers it looks like it's not going to take itself seriously and it looks like it's going to be a fun ride. Robo Cop........*Facepalms* I already knew what it was going to come down to when the black cop said "Now I know your the right colour". Oh haha! I get it! Because he's a black guy and Robo Cop's paint job is black, he can identify with him on a racial level! Oh that's so clever on your part Hollywood!

    Well let me tell you something Hollywood: Just because you have a black in your movie, it doesn't mean you need to draw attention to his race. I swear this as irritating as those god damn Medea movies.

    Game wise: Don't worry about what everyone else says about the Bravely Default demo. The only time you need to grind is when your about to go up against a boss and really it's just making sure you have decent weapons equipped and you have jobs that support each other. I don't know why everyone says the demo is grindy. Once you have three of the characters learn Thundra just go south of the city and you'll master all the jobs and cap the level in an hour.

  4. I played the original Thief and Thief 2 a couple of years ago, and they were, hands-down, the best stealth games I've ever played. If this next game is even half as good as Thief 2, it'll be a must-play.

    1. How good are they compared to dishonored?