NEw Mutants: New Characters same struggle

I finally got around to watching Fox’s last X-Men production yesterday and I wasn’t as disappointed as quite a lot of critics said I would be. Sure there were somethings that could have been better but I enjoyed a lot more than I disliked.

The plot

When we are introduced to the ‘New Mutants’ we see that the main character Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) is being hunted down before waking up in a hospital.

Here she is informed of the New Mutants programme, designed to help those transitioning through their powers. It’s much like you’d imagine a mental hospital to come across, with an old aesthetic, a kind nurse and lots of cameras and suspicious security. Dani is thrown into group therapy, there’s good patients and bad ones and in this case, powers.

As Dani begins to explore why she is truly in the programme, with some help from Maisie Williams’ Rahne (Wolfsbane) and Anya Taylor-Joy’s bully character Illyana (Magik), she begins to realise not everything is as it seems.

The other patients also begin to realise that something has changed when they start to vividly visualise nightmares that weren’t there before. Pointing the finger at each other they realise it’s time for out.

You’ll probably think that, with this plot, there’s nothing new about it and you would be absolutely correct. In my opinion it is a fairly safe plot to use just with added mutants.

The Good

There’s more good than bad, so it’s a good place to start. To begin with the characters are interesting. Whenever we are introduced to new Mutants (especially the ones we don’t traditionally know) it’s always fun finding out their story. In this case as they are in a hospital there’s even more to it.

With how the plot is worked each character has some really good set pieces. We are introduced to them by way of what really drove them to use their powers and find themselves needing help.

This is where the horror element we heard about years ago comes from. This horror part is both good and bad. It works as a really good angle to tell the story from. Some of the scenes do have a genuine tension to them. The setting is dark, the characters are alone and it’s all a bit weird as we don’t really know their powers or what’s going on.

Thing is, it’s a comic book movie about people with powers, so how scared can we get for the characters fate?

When the characters do use their powers they have been well done. The CGI is good and they feel almost down to earth, with maybe the exception of Illyana. We’re not bombarded with this constant display of CGI.

Illyana’s Magik does steal the show when we talk about powers. She’s the most ‘badass’ with her powers and would probably make a good protagonist in like a Deadpool kind of way. She has the ability to teleport, a dragon and a magic sword she wields in an armoured arm.

Her ‘hate everything’ grungy attitude means it feels cool when she launches into using them.

The film also has some serious issues such as racism and sexuality. The sexuality is a first for the comic book world in this sense. It’s something that maybe deserved more recognition for the way it’s so normally dealt with in the film. There’s no big moment or bells and whistles its just normal as it should be.

The Bad

So where does this film get it wrong? It’s the same problem I think a lot of the X-Men films have and that’s bringing it all together.

As I have said the characters are interesting enough and when we’re exploring their stories it’s really good cinema, New Mutants fails to bring it all together cohesively. The same can be said for Apocalypse and Phoenix.

New Mutants looks to be the product of what started of with a lot of passion that has been drained by studio interference, delays and Disney’s merge.

There’s some really lazy script writing, it’s relatively short and is missing something. That bit of flair or charisma that you would normally get from group movies. You get the feeling that this film was clearly to far along to cancel but not close enough to carry on supporting.

Final Thoughts

I hope this project gets picked up again in the future. I’m probably biased towards X-Men films for some reason as I normally love them. The idea is really cool and some of this film is very strong.

They needed to show conviction in making a horror or an action film. They needed a better script to really draw out these characters relationships with themselves, each other and the world around them.

There isn’t really a villain, which is okay but we needed more of a direction to the film. It shifts a couple of times towards the end.

Having actors that represent the characters better would be an improvement. Half of them had fake accents and I’m not sure why as their heritage was never a major factor in their stories.

It’s well worth a watch and if Illyana had a spin-off somewhere I’d be happy to see more of her character.

Avengers – PS4 REview

The Avengers recently found their way onto our consoles for a serious action RPG based on the comics. It’s an original piece of work with a lot going for it, unfortunately it’s a big hot mess right now.

Since Friday I think I’ve played around 30 hours worth of this game, but I’ve finished the ‘main’ campaign. I say ‘main’ as it has a campaign that includes multiple different sets of missions and stories but ‘Reassemble’ is clearly the main one.

The Plot

So what is this about then? Well as you can imagine it wanted to carve out it’s own story. The games from movies era ended long a go where we might have seen an Infinity War game to go with the blockbuster film.

In essence the plot of this game is actually a Ms Marvel story, with the main Avengers in support. All throughout the story it centers around Kamala Khan, a massive fan of the Avengers.

She is the representation of the proper Fan Girl type, she’s 11 when we first meet her and by 16 nothing has changed. Her room is adorned with Avengers posters and she has all the memorabilia to go with. During ‘A-Day’ we see how she is unapologetic for her fan girl status and it’s great to see. I know I’ve always struggled to show off about the things I really love.

During her time in A-Day, searching for comics, meeting the Avengers and generally ‘geeking’ out it all goes to turmoil when there’s an attack on the Golden Gate bridge and later the Helicarrier where A-Day happens.

We come to realise the Avengers have been set up and 5 years in the aftermath AIM (an evil tech company) have taken over. When The Helicarrier was attacked it released a gas that turned everyone into Inhumans. If you have seen Agents of Shield it’s all very familiar.

Kamala vows to try and find out what happened that day and in doing so pulls the wrong strings. She finds herself in the middle of a plot to kill all Inhumans with the Avengers to support her.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very hack and slash, just with punches and kicks. It’s what you would imagine a comic book to feel like as a game. You get to play as each Avenger (Ms Marvel, Black Widow, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man & Thor). Each one feels different to the last but it is all a bit button bashing to throw light or heavy attacks.

The enemies come in many varieties but don’t always feel different from the last. It’s all based in AIM’s robots so there’s not many people enemies and it makes sense because you end up fighting thousands of them.

One of my hopes was that we’d see some really cool bosses. Marvel have a tonne of cool villains that might finally get some screen time. We start the game off with a fight against Taskmaster, which is cool as fuck but that’s all we see of him until post game.

Together with Abomination they are the only meaningful character bosses you face, the rest are just big machines.

Once you finish the main story the game is then just rinse and repeat. You have 2 levels to work simultaneously Power and Character. Neither impacts the other and I find the whole RPG side a little unsatisfying.

Character levels unlock skill which improve your gameplay. I would recommend getting your characters level up a bit before finishing your story as it helps immensely (i didn’t do this and hated it).

Power level comes with gear and adds to your stats and gives bonuses. This can help if you know what you have as it will make you play in certain ways to maximise your build. Loot is thrown at you all the time and it becomes very not important. If you’ve played Destiny 2 this will feel familiar overall as the system is almost identical.

Post game feels a lot like The Division where you just repeat old missions to power up to play higher level old missions to power up etc etc. There’s no purpose to any of it right now in the game. The gear needs to have more meaningful choices.

Final Thoughts

Overall I did enjoy my time. My favourite character to play as was Black Widow, her style suited my own as I could zip to enemies, go invisible and had a really good ranged ability.

Once I put some time into level up her character I had more fun with it. However playing as anyone else at low levels then felt a chore and not very fun.

The game has a lot of bugs, like way more than a release should have. Cut scenes won’t have audio, very low frame rates and gameplay will freeze AI characters. Sometimes buttons won’t work so you can’t progress and I had a weird one where the level like overlapped.

The loot/ level systems need a bit of work and the post Reassemble content needs some work. I was happy that microtransactions aren’t an issue but the ‘character pass’ isn’t a quick level up (you’re restricted how much you can do a day if you don’t pay). But still it’s all free with the base game.

I reckon by the holidays this game will have a few patches and fixes that it’ll make a great present or cheaper buy. For now, unless you absolutely LOVE Avengers or action RPG games maybe just watch someone else on Twitch.

The Umbrella Academy Season 2

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 dropped for us on Friday just gone (July 31). As one of the more anticipated seasons to come out this year, this season lives up to the expectation and hype.

Reflecting back on season 1 I really enjoyed it as an alternative comic book/hero take. It brought a freshness mixed with maturity and story telling to carve it’s own little space in the over saturated market.

It ended with the team (known as the Umbrella Academy once upon a time) being cast back in time to avoid an apocalypse.

Season 2 picks up immediately where season 1 finished. In fact its one of the best scenes within the season (don’t worry we don’t peak early like a Lindsay Lohan career). It sees the gang back together all super’d up to prevent World War 3 in 1963. This is quickly ended when Nukes across the world go off and end the world, again and everyone is dead.

At the centre seems to be Five (Aidan Gallagher). Five seems to be mixed with time travel and at war with The Commission (like the Doctor Who’s of the world) that seems to end in catastrophe every time.

To try and prevent the next apocalypse Five travels back 10 days prior the end of the world to find his family and prevent the events, all over again. Problem is, his family didn’t land in the 1960’s together.

Throughout the seasons early episodes we see how each member landed at different points in time and adjusted to their new lives. Klaus (Robert Sheehan) had become a leader of a peace cult, Diego (David Castaneda) was convinced he needed to save Kennedy from being assassinated and locked up for it, Vanya (Ellen Paige) was on a farm after being hit by a car, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) was married and a political activist for Black Lives and Luther (Tom Hopper) was an underground boxer working for a crime lord.

Their new lives provided us with much better characters than we saw in season 1. They worked off others to give us more of their development and a look inside their thoughts more. This only adds to the shows world building and our attachment to the characters.

We begin to learn about their vulnerabilities and their motivations. It’s here that the conflict of saving the world and returning from the 60’s isn’t in everyone’s best interests. Many of the family are happy, much to Five’s unhappiness. Five hadn’t considered that some had been in the 60’s for years compared to his days.

Saving the world isn’t so easy for Five. We learn that the assassination of Kennedy and their father seem to be involved in starting World War 3, so he and Diego (and a few others) begin to track down a younger version of their dad to find out what the fuck is going on.

Reginald (Colm Feore) is still a dick, seems he always has been and will be. However we see what he was like before being a mentor (more than a father) to the children. We see he’s shady, mysterious, powerful and how even now he has control over the kids through his years or mental manipulation.

The bar certainly seems to have been raised and met.

As the season moves on we’re treated to some excellent plots and sub plots. We see how each characters lives are bigger than they seem. As the apocalypse draws nearer the events get worse, for everybody. The bar certainly seems to have been raised for this season and it has been met. The series writer Steve Blackman has done an exceptional job.

The story moves at a pace you enjoy, the set pieces of action and violence are well handled and the sombre moments are given the attention they need. The chemistry between the cast is great and shines through. The humour works and feels natural with Tom Hopper leading the way, mostly.

One of the best introductions however is Ritu Arya. She plays a character called Lila that we meet when Diego is in a mental treatment facility. Seemingly a throwaway character she attaches herself to Diego and some of the family to help them prevent the apocalypse. As we begin to learn more about her we see how much of the plot is built around her.

She has great energy and brings a sassy style of humour, something that’s been missing. She also balances out the gender power as most of the male characters feel powerful next to the females.

All in all season 2 is well written, acted, paced, scored and it is refreshing. It builds a lot on what season 1 set in place but for the most part it only adds to it. As a comic book TV series its up there with the best of them, but don’t think it’s like the rest.