Visiting a Meerkat Cafe. Seoul, South Korea. By Lexi | Soul Searching
from Kotaku http://kotaku.com/1794586165
In most games, death is associated with failure, or a narrative break that forces you to reattempt a challenge. What Remains of Edith Finch turns death into a key feature of story progression. …
For a brief moment, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 felt like the worst thing a movie featuring a sentient baby tree and an anthropomorphic raccoon could be: it felt familiar. This happens somewhere within the first 30 minutes, after Drax the Destroyer’s sixth or seventh quip showcasing how clueless about social norms he is and Peter Quill’s constant referencing of cool things from the 1980s. It’s as if the film was straining too hard to remind you how much fun the first one was. Hey, remember how much you loved dancing Baby Groot? Well here he is again, but this time you get four full minutes of him grooving! Please enjoy.
This was a worry. The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise, breaking the Marvel movie template and setting a tone that other comic book properties would slavishly follow (oh, hi there Suicide Squad). The Guardians hail from the weirdest, most bizarre corner of the Marvel universe. What a pity if the second film in the series ended up being just a retread of the first, more Iron Man 2 than Captain America:The Winter Soldier.
But then, just as a certain new character’s Mork & Mindy-like egg-shaped ship takes off to the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 starts bringing it all together. It leaves the references to the first film behind, pushing its characters, setting, and plot to compelling places. It becomes thrilling, emotional, funny, and most of all, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 finally becomes what the first film was: fun and more than a little heartfelt. As Rocket Racoon says near the film’s climax: “Welcome to the freakin’ Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s about time.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is at its best when it’s doing something new. It’s no coincidence that the film’s shift from good to great happens when Volume 2’s most interesting new character appears. Kurt Russell is a standout as Peter Quill’s (aka Star-Lord aka Chris Pratt) long-lost father, Ego the Living Planet (who fans of the comics will know better as an actual gigantic planet, as opposed to the guy who played Snake Plissken and Jack Burton). Russell is indeed more diminutive than a celestial body, but he brings outsized energy and charisma to the role, and his interplay with Quill is funny, touching, and heartfelt. The other new face is also a fun one: Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff) is an empath in the employ of Ego, and she provides a lot of the film’s laughs. She’s a sweet addition, and with her wide eyes, innocent nature, and high-pitched voice, is literally an anime character brought to life. It wouldn’t have been surprising to see her to turn to camera, smile, hoist two fingers in the air and squeal “Kawaiii!!!”.
It’s also refreshing to see that while the returning cast brings the biggest emotional punches, those hits don’t all come from the main Guardians crew. In fact, former villians Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) have the most dramatic arcs, with the former leaning in hard on the underlying father/son dynamic he had with Quill in the first film, and the latter finally revealing the source of all her angst and anger toward her sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Yondu, it could be argued, is the beating heart of Volume 2. There’s a scene near the beginning of the film, a wordless one where Yondu stands amidst a bevy of android pleasure models, his empty stare telling us everything about the emptiness and aching inside. It’s a wonderful, quiet moment that conveys in seconds more about Yondu than we learned during the entirety of the first film.
Those moments of stillness stand out the most. From the subtle but meaningful look Drax (Dave Bautista) gives Mantis near the end of the film to the gentle dance Star-Lord and Gamora share, director James Gunn isn’t afraid to dial down the explosions and noise to let his characters breathe. Each of the main Guardians crew gets their chance to evolve and grow in between fighting interdimensional beasties and escaping from hostile alien armadas, and they become fully-fleshed out, believable characters. Whatever the color of their alien skin, all of these strange creatures feel very human.
And it’s why the film’s many action sequences work as well as they do. The flash and bang in Volume 2 is impressive and impactful in the way many of Marvel’s best set pieces are, but everything has more weight because of the characters. Sure, seeing Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) singlehandedly taking on an army of Reavers is cool, but you’re excited not because a small mammal is doing kung fu, but because Rocket, perpetually underestimated and looked down upon, is finally getting his comeuppance. You cheer as Star-Lord finds the strength to take on the film’s big bad at the end of the film not because he’s Chris Pratt and he looks good shirtless, but because his anger is righteous as he seeks to avenge a wrong from long ago. You squeal in delight as Baby Groot…well, you just squeal because he’s undeniably, almost unbearably, cute.
There’s a scene near the end of the film, after all the action is over and the Guardians are taking stock of what happened, where Baby Groot climbs gingerly onto Star-Lord’s lap. Groot looks up, and Star-Lord offers him one of his earbuds, and they sit there, quietly, listening to music. It’s a wonderful moment at the end of a long journey where all of the Guardians have experienced new things, vanquished immense foes, and grown as a strange, unorthodox family. And we’re right there with Groot and Star Lord, looking out at the stars, excited about what’s coming next. Now, about those five post-credit scenes…
|The Good||The Bad|
|Wonderful, appealing characters||Slow first third|
|Fun action sequences||Baby Groot is toooo cute|
|Great additions to the main cast|
|Baby Groot is soooo cute|
This week’s highlights include a classic Deus Ex postmortem, making Steam games successful in China, and the surprise smash hit Lineage 2 mobile game, among other things. …
I’ve got an Iron Man figure from Hot Toys on my shelf. It’s 1:6 scale, and is worth a couple hundred bucks. This one is 1:1 scale, and costs almost $8000.
Called the Iron Man Mark III Life-Size Figure and built by Sideshow, it’s not really a figure, in that you can’t pose it. It’s not a suit either, because you can’t put it on. So let’s maybe call it a statue, one with “expertly reproduced layered armored panels, subtle weathering, and many fine details”.
Standing 6'10" its eyes, palms and arc reactor all light up, meaning if you’ve ever wanted to roleplay Tony Stark to the point where you’ve got full-size Iron Man armour lying around the back of your workshop, here’s your shot.
The actual price is not $8000. It’s $7950. You’d hope shipping will be included in that.
Say what you will about the new Ghost in the Shell as a movie, one thing I think we can all agree on is that it looks absolutely stunning. So let’s check out some of the concept art work that went into creating the film’s look.
Some of the world’s best artists lent their talents to GITS’ production, and many—like Eidos’ Nivanh Chanthara and former Naughty Dog artist Maciej Kuciara—have been featured on Fine Art previously. Note that the artists here aren’t the only ones to have worked on the movie, they’re just among those who have shared their work publicly.
Below are some highlights of their contributions, but you can visit each of the artist’s portfolios (linked in their names) to see more.
To see the images in their native resolution, click on the “expand” button in the top-left corner.
Fine Art is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you’re in the business and have some concept, environment, promotional or character art you’d like to share, drop us a line!
Two games in, Team SoloMid looked poised to deftly sweep the number-two seed Cloud9 in the finals of the North American League Championship Series Spring Split. Cloud9 would not cede so easily, however, and rallied back to push it to a climactic game five, where a single clash would decide the champion of the split.
Though TSM was dominant in the first two maps, game three was a turning point for Cloud9. Battling back with the help of rookie jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia, a single teamfight swung game three in Cloud9's favor.
Taking game four afterwards, a single match would determine the series outcome. Game five was a slugfest, with each team trading blow-for-blow. The gold and kill differential between the teams never widened too great, as each looked to eke out whatever advantage they could to win. At one point, in the span of half a minute, the teams took kills off each other in scattershot skirmishes across the map.
At 38 minutes in, a clash in the top river gave Cloud9 the edge, as they took out most of Team SoloMid’s key players while keeping a solid amount of theirs alive. Turning that advantage into a baron kill, Cloud9 was poised to steal the series away in a reverse sweep—that is, until they got a little greedy with the buff.
Team SoloMid turned the tables on Cloud9 and engaged on them at the best moment, wiping the few members left alive. As a full five, TSM stormed down the bottom lane and secured the win, becoming repeat winners in Vancouver finals and claiming the title of Spring Split champions.
Though TSM reigns supreme, the teams will assemble again for the Summer Split later this year. In the meantime, the Mid-Season Invitational looms overhead, where SKT T1 awaits to crush all challengers. While the international stage is anyone’s game, Cloud9 and Team SoloMid demonstrated today that they’re both very talented teams, capable of putting on one hell of a final.