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Movie Review: Angel Has Fallen

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.

 

 

Summer 2019 has been a bit of a bust when it comes to new film releases. It’s usually a lacklustre season that’s saved by a big superhero release. However, since that already happened in the Spring with the goliath that was Avengers: Endgame, it’s been a particularly sluggish summer for film.

 

No, I’m not here to tell you that Angel Has Fallen is our glorious saviour of Summer cinema, but for the sake of having something to watch, it makes a nice change from the continuous school holiday screenings of The Lion King and Angry Birds 2.

 

 

A failed assassination attempt on President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) sees Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) as the only surviving staff member at the scene. He wakes up in hospital in cuffs, charged with the attempted murder of the president after copious amounts of evidence point to his involvement in the attack. Banning is determined to prove his innocence, so when his prison van is hijacked, he takes the chance to go on the run to find the truth.

 

I was very sceptical about the third instalment and I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit to judging Butler’s appearance in the trailer. He looks tired, puffy and expressionless, reminding me of Sylvester Stallone in recent years (ok, decades). I was quick to assume he couldn’t cut the mustard anymore. Since watching the film though, his aesthetic is extremely relevant to the storyline as we see Mike as a painkiller popping insomniac pushed to breaking point physically and mentally from start to finish.

 

 

During his travels, he seeks out his estranged father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), a reclusive war veteran with a few tricks up his sleeve that probably provided the edge that Mike lacked in this film. Nolte’s rattled Clay resembled the late Albert Finney in Skyfall, which I think is why I warmed to this character as much as Trumbull. Without giving anything away, this guy is badass.

 

 

Angel Has Fallen is what I would call an ‘easy watch’, which may work for some as an action-driven film. On the other hand, it also means that nothing about the plot was fresh or surprising. In fact, I figured out who the main villain was the instant I saw him, which is not usually an observation I get right. Because of that, I struggled to care about anything other than if Morgan Freeman was going to be alright. I mean, he’s an 82-year-old icon pretending to get shot at every five minutes, so who wouldn’t be concerned?

 

 

There were some strong action sequences throughout, but unfortunately, much like predecessor London Has Fallen, the CGI just couldn’t back it up. The explosions towards the end of the film showed a huge weakness (that’s not a spoiler by the way. It’s not an action film without explosions at the end). Then again, according to IMDB, London Has Fallen is the highest-grossing film of the three, so maybe poor effects shouldn’t deter you from giving the latest chapter a chance. To its credit, the drone sequence featured in the trailer is the most original part about the entire film and worth a watch for that.

 

To conclude, Angel Has Fallen is certainly not a waste of time, but maybe not time well spent. Butler delivers an ok performance, but with the likes of Tom Cruise still pulling out stunts at 57 with far more skill, I think Butler’s combat days are numbered. I hope this remains a trilogy because I feel any more additions will just be as forgettable as this one. Thank God for the old boys in this!

 

With that, I give this a 6/10.


September 3rd, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Movie Review: Toy Story 4

When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

 

 

2019 is, without a doubt, a huge year for film. We’ve had the big guns of action so far in ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’, but one of the most anticipated films of the year comes in the form of Pixar’s Toy Story 4.

 

With a 25 year history, many of us have grown up with the franchise, so while younger generations are barely getting started with the films, millions of kidults are saying a sad goodbye as the 4th instalment brings the tale of Buzz (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) to a close. Admittedly, some audiences queried the point of the 4th film years before release; as Toy Story 3 rounded up pretty well, with Andy handing over his childhood buddies to Bonnie. However, I wasn’t disappointed in Toy Story 4. In fact, my disappointment lies in the fact that it has ended. Although producers have said “never say never”, it doesn’t seem like there are any plans for a fifth instalment.

 

 

Following the intro about what happened to Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in the last film, Bonnie has started school. Struggling to make friends, Bonnie (unknowingly helped by Woody, who feels he doesn’t have a purpose any more- deep) makes a new friend from a spork. Forky is voiced by Tony Hale, famous for the fantastic, noughties hit-show Arrested Development (if we pretend season 4 and 5 didn’t happen). In fact, if the coddled, anxious and naive Buster Bluth was reincarnated, he would come back as talking plastic cutlery for sure. Forky is one of the best new characters we’ve seen since cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) joined the gang. He causes much of the chaos in the film as Woody tries to keep him safe despite frequent attempts to run away and put himself in the trash. Woody’s desperation to be needed is depressing, but integral to the plot and the reason he keeps stopping Forky from ditching Bonnie.

 

 

During a family RV trip, Woody becomes separated from the gang after Forky makes a quick dash from the moving van (as you do). During their trip back to the RV, Woody discovers long-lost Bo Beep’s lamp in the window of a local antique store. Whilst looking for Bo, Woody becomes the prey of a vintage doll, Gaby Gaby (Christina Hendricks), who wants his voice box to fix her faulty one so someone will finally love her. While Gaby Gaby is feeling her Soprano realness in her villainous state, her identical ventriloquist dummy henchmen are the entourage from hell. In truth, they make Annabelle and Chucky look like the cast of Sesame Street. For a kids film, they are surprisingly messed up.

 

 

Throughout the film, there’s a lot of back and forth chases, from Woody avoiding those horrid dummies to Bo saving everybody all the time, whilst Buzz and Jessie trying to stall Bonnie’s parents from leaving the RV camp. There’s a lot going on, drumming out all of the humour and drama that we’ve come to love from the franchise. Lots of new characters all contribute to the story. This includes Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), the daredevil motorcycle stunt doll who crashes better than anyone in the vintage toy market. Call me harsh, but this is the most personality I’ve ever witnessed from Reeves in any role and it works.

 

 

I absolutely loved this film. By the fourth film, most franchises are so terrible that we watch them for a cheap laugh, but Toy Story 4 is just as relevant and funny as ever. It’s kept up with the times, offers morals for the kids, and nostalgia for the rest of us. My only criticism is that most of the original characters get a lot less screen time than before. However, it makes sense to the story and with reliance on archives to voice Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles died in 2017), it would have been a struggle to include him without finding a new actor. How can you replace that voice? Not easily.

 

 

Expect to feel emotionally damaged by the ending, enjoy the endless supply of satisfying Easter eggs and make sure you stay for the credits for more hilarity.

 

It’s 10/10 from me.


July 24th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

City of Heroes: Paragon Weekly News – Issue 2

Greetings my fellow Heroes and Villains! The beloved City of Heroes is back with a vengeance! For the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of playing City of Heroes Homecoming, a set of servers currently being hosted privately but open to the public. The game is working great and even has unreleased content that was never seen before, due to the NCSoft shutdown of the game prior to the release of the content. So let’s carry on with coverage –

 

 

Lots of news to cover this week folks! On the homecoming front we have a server donation and a server migration to a new host, an EU shard and shard rename, a new web based ticket system and server status page, and more! We also have a new challenger in the ring of City of Heroes servers!

 

First things first, Homecoming is now accepting donations during limited donation windows. They are opening up donations each month until they reach that month’s goal for operation costs. The first month of donations was closed after reaching their goal in 20 minutes. Donations came in so fast that Paypal flagged their account for review! This first round of donations covered some one off costs as well as the first month of hosting at OVH, where the servers are migrated to now. More on that later.

 

 

Now I know in the last issue of Paragon Weekly News I stated they were not accepting donations and I warned people against donating to another group. At the time they were not willing to take donations because they did not want to put any unnecessary risk on the server, and donating to any entity without something to show first is a risky endeavor. It just so happens though that the Homecoming team were also in the process of setting up as a non profit organisation and on may 7th they set up as a LLC (the first step towards becoming a non-profit) and are in a position to be able to take donations in order to keep the servers online. The money is being handled by a new legal entity, Homecoming Servers LLC (registered in Delaware, file number 7407345). The ongoing costs will be roughly as follows:

 

Auth Server
1x A1 @ $102.99
Shard Database Servers
5x A1 @ $102.99 each, $514.95 total
Central Database
1x A3 @ 137.99
Mapservers
6x A5 @ $354.99 each, $2,129.94 total
Services Box
1x A1 @ $102.99

 

That is a total of $2,988.86 per month before factoring in software licenses, the one-off costs for the month, and including around $1,200 to pay off the remaining bill to Digital Ocean. Up until this point they have paid around $1,370 themselves, $500 to cover the remaining time spent on Digital Ocean, a $375 filing costs for setting up Homecoming Servers LLC, and a $1,250 contingency fund to cover any other unexpected costs or to spin up additional hardware if needed which equals an additional $3,225, for a grand total of $6,313.86. And they raised it in 20 minutes. Let that sink in.

 

 

A quote from their forums states –

“There is absolutely no in-game benefit to donating, and there never will be – the one exception may be that donors get queue priority and/or some kind of forum title, but that is undetermined at this point (and definitely will not be happening for a while – we just want to be fully transparent about our intentions)”
“Homecoming Servers LLC is not currently a non-profit as it’s a multi-month process to set one up, but the eventual goal is to convert it into one”
“The primary reason for setting up an LLC is to give us tax protection – if the donations were funneled through an individual, they would be classed as income and as such would be taxable”
“We will post full receipts of all expenditure at the end of each month”

 

This all happened prior to this weeks move of the server shards to OVH, which appears to have gone off without a hitch. I have happily been playing without any issues since the migration completed. The Homecoming team has also set up a ticket system to get help from GMs, and a shiny server status page. This means we can check if the servers are online, how busy they are and what the balance of heroes to villains on each shard at a given time is. You can see the tickets page here and the server status page here.

 

With the server migration we now have an EU Shard. 20 server transfer tokens were handed out so people could transfer to the new EU shard, Reunion! (formerly known as halcyon) They have also added custom xp rates as temporary powers on the special P2W vendor where you get your veteran rewards from. These Xp rates increase your xp earned, while decreasing your money looted and vary in rates from 25, 50 to double exp and can be obtained for free in 1 hour increments at 8 hours max. Wealso just got a special announcement on discord at 11:08 pm CST 5-18-2019 from Cipher regarding the server migration,

“The weekend has gone pretty smoothly so far!

We reached our highest ever concurrent player count of 7,950 tonight and found a way to increase CPU power by a considerable amount, which combined with the new server we setup earlier today, should provide a smoother playing experience going forward. As always, we’ll still continue to keep an eye on everything.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that multiboxing is prohibited during times when queues are active or servers are entering Overload Protection. To check queue status and overload protection see #status-updates #live-shards #live-graphs

Thanks!”

 

 

And for our last bit of Homecoming news; Tempest is looking to start doing a weekly streamer meet and greet,

“Hey, everyone! I’m about to be going to bed, but I wanted to give you a heads-up to a project I’m planning. No @ ‘s since this isn’t a major server matter. Are you a streamer? Cool! I’m meeting so many of you lately and, honestly, it’s really hard to keep up with how many new faces and old at once! So in an effort to try and get a chance to show up and meet and greet with all of you, I’m going to be working on a Streamer Saturday! (Possibly Sunday?) The idea would be that 7 streamers that want to can coordinate a time with me to show up on their teams and in discord for a simultaneous seven-way combined stream! If you want to participate in this streaming simulcast, coordinate in the #streaming where you and others can coordinate who’d like to show up! My hours on Saturday and Sunday vary a tad, so each week I’ll pin what hours I should be home and free for such an event, and you can discuss plans and the like. Please keep non-related chatter in the channel to a minimum, is all I ask! Happy Streaming, and goodnight!”

 

Today has also seen a new City of Heroes server emerge, Rebirth! Rebirth is an issue 24 server.

There are 579 registered accounts holding 1303 characters so far.

You can find out more here I also have a quote from Retched at the CoH discord,

“The server is configured to grant everything it can that was originally microtransaction-only. Anything showing as locked in character creation can be earned in game. The following missing sets cannot be auto granted due to technical issues:
Black Knight
Halloween 2011 bundle
Assorted other Halloween parts (unreleased, likely intended for a 2012 bundle)

The following sets are not granted automatically due to being awarded via Paragon Reward Tokens. What to do about these is TBD.
Samurai armor
Tech sleek armor
Boxing set
Mecha armor
Tech Knight set
Fashion Boots/Awakened Gloves

A few individual pieces are also earned through reward tokens. Other than that, if anything else is missing, please let an admin know. Thank you! Also an addendum SOME Power Pools are still trapped behind the “MTX” (or Microtransaction) server. We’re working on getting those out to everyone. The Sorcery Power Pool and Force of Will power pools are still trapped. We’ll work on getting those out to people as soon as we can. ((EDIT: Force of Will will actually be removed outright. Evidently it’s still too broken for release.))
As for Veteran Rewards, as announced, we’re still trying to work on a way to let them out but we still want you to earn them via game play. We’ll figure out what is the plan is once we can determine how to unlock it.”

 

Rebirth is not affiliated with Homecoming, and is running a different version of the game. Homecoming is Issue 25 whereas rebirth is 24. Homecoming has all costume pieces and powers unlocked at creation, but in Rebirth you still have to unlock them. I will bring more Rebirth news as I get it as well!

 

 

And that is it for this issue, check back next week for more news and join us in Discord to chat about the game, until then, “Go, Hunt, Kill Skulls”!


May 25th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, PC | No Comments »

PC Game Review :- Swag and Sorcery from  Lazy Bear Games & Uroboros Games

Grind for resources, manage your own fantasy village, create and equip your heroes and send them to collect swag in Swag and Sorcery – a new streamlined RPG from the creators of Punch Club and Graveyard Keeper.

 

 

Swag and Sorcery is touted as a streamlined RPG developed by Lazy Bear Games and Uroboros Games, and published by tinyBuild. The latest game from the creators of Punch Club and Graveyard Keeper has received mixed reviews on STEAM, which seems to be a fair reflection based on my experience.

 

Your skills are required to track down the Emperor’s stolen suit which will fix all the Kingdom’s problems. (Damn, that must be a nice suit.) You hire adventurers and send them on dangerous quests. The intrepid travellers will complete the quest on their own, but this is far from an idle game. If their health runs out, the quest is failed and you lose any precious loot you picked up along the way. You can call them home alive and “supervise” by casting spells you research as the game develops.

 

 

Your hired heroes are far from just monster snacks, they are needed to craft items in the village, helping to unlock and improve more crafting buildings which in turn, allows you to craft bigger and better armour and weapons. You keep your workers healthy and happy by paying for time at the Church and Spa. Although I found the Church to be less essential as I discovered more craftable items, because your heroes regenerate health over time whilst in the village.

 

There is plenty to keep you busy in the game; between levelling up at the training camp, collecting loot on adventures, upgrading the village and competing in fashion competitions. Yes, you read that correctly. Periodically, fashion competitions crop up which you can enter for a fee. Judges have different preferences for colours and styles, and can be bribed with items. Bribing is a bit of a gamble though, as a liked item will help your cause, but a disliked item could ruin you. I think I found a bug in this part of the game though. The list of unlocked ‘Likes’ and ‘Dislikes’ for each judge seemed to reset before every competition, so unless I kept track it was a guessing game each time.

 

 

Gold is the main currency in the game, but recipes for more outfits and accessories are acquired with raw and crafted materials, so you can soon find yourself running low on essentials. While Reputation with the kingdom is earned by winning fashion competitions and working on improving the village.

 

As well as set goals to complete for rewards and advance the game, random encounters can occur at any time. This can be a travelling merchant offering an unknown item for payment up front, or a suspected thief captured by villagers who require you to pass judgement. These encounters are a gamble. The merchant could be offering a bargain or be ripping you off. Your reputation could suffer by releasing the thief, or you could be sued for wrongful execution. Either way, the random outcome definitely makes the game more interesting.

 

 

The game can be grindy and due to lack of information on some screens, you can end up screen-hopping and mumbling stats to yourself as you try to equip your heroes correctly for the upcoming adventure, or to remember who is the most efficient crafter for a certain building. Having loved Graveyard Keeper, I have no doubt that quality of life fixes will be plentiful from the developers, and at the time of writing this article, have already begun.

 

The story dialogue is witty, but forgettable and the gameplay can become frustrating. For example, you have to complete a quest level several times to even get a chance to face the boss. If you forget to equip a health potion on the boss quest, and fail horribly, you have to keep replaying the same quest over again to be able to fill the boss battle opportunity bar. That said, the game is saved by it’s cute cartoon styling and massive range of activities. You will not be lost for something to do in this game.

 

 

I am definitely looking forward to more updates and bug fixes, and this is not a game I will be giving up on just yet. I can’t wait to see Swag and Sorcery reach its full potential.

 

Swag and Sorcery is available now on STEAM. and at only £9.99, not a bad investment

 

 

As it stands at review, a solid 6 out of 10 from me and at only £9.99, not a bad investment with regular updates still coming.

~ScarletDragon


May 23rd, 2019 by Scarlet_Dragon
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

PC Indie Game Review: AVARIAvs from Juncture Media

In AVARIAvs, players choose a party of 3 heroes to battle against an opponent’s party. During battle, opposing players choose their actions simultaneously and then witness the mayhem of their decisions. Combat rages on until one winner reigns victorious by decimating their opponent’s HP to zero.

Be warned however, matches that do not conclude promptly may be subject to JUDGEMENT…

 

 

AVARIAvs Is a turn based pvp game, where you make a team of three characters and battle it out online or side by side from your couch. Think of it as using a JRPG like Final Fantasy 7’s classic turn based combat to fight pvp matches, but both sides turns take place at the same time based on which character has the highest speed and plays out in real time!

 

 

In Avaria the players can select premade teams of 3 characters or build two custom teams from the 16 characters offered in the game. However you currently can only have a single character from each faction. As the match progresses a judgement system is activated to kill off characters to keep the match from dragging on, I have only ever seen the judgement affect the losing team.

 

 

The graphics and art for the game are amazing, while the sound track is a perfect fit for the game. Combat animations are spot on and a pleasure to watch while the match speed and turns have the perfect pacing. AVARIAvs hits all the bells and whistles I was hoping for from a competitive pvp game that is not a another moba or battle royale. This is something new, refreshing, fun, tactical, and awesome. I can see this game easily becoming the next League of Legends in popularity and Esports.

 

 

AVARIAvs is available now on STEAM. For more info, check out the links in the description below and remember to check out Sanitarium.FM and join our discord for more gaming news, info and community chat, over on Discord

 

Check out the video version of this review here –

 

AVARIAvs is an easy 10 out of 10 as a truly unique, and fun, experience that gets the competitive juices flowing and never fails to deliver on a good time. Get out there, represent your favorite characters, and fight to the death in AVARIAvs folks.

~Darsch


May 22nd, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, MOBA, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

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