Pokemon: The Isle of Armor Expansion Review

Pokémon has released its first DLC for a main title game on the Nintendo Switch being The Isle of Armor expansion for Pokémon Sword and Shield. With the announcement coming several months ago, I wrote a post about how it can be good and bad to have DLC’s for these games. I wasn’t entirely on board, but also suggested some advantages they could have and different ideas for where they could go with it, but overall I was skeptical going in. It wasn’t until a few weeks before its release that I was reminded that it was coming out so soon and began to get excited again. The last few months leading up to this expansion, I actually hadn’t been playing that much having mostly found myself being a bit bored.

The few days before the release renewed my excitement and I began playing again. It was the anticipation of having an expanded world in the game that got me so excited into playing again. I really didn’t read that much into the expansion before release and really only knew about the addition of Kubfu the new legendary Pokémon that was to be gifted to you with two different Gigantamax forms. I was super excited to get my hands on this new Pokémon not only because it was a new legendary but I love the design of both.

The expansion came and I began playing. The first thing I noticed was how simple it was to get to the Isle of Armor. You update the game after buying the expansion of course and then as soon as the game boots up it informs you of the update and lets you know to go to the rail station to travel to the new Isle. After arriving, travel becomes easier as you are able to simply fly to and from the rest of the Galar region and the Isle of Armor. They could have easily gone the more complicated and senseless route of making all of this more complicated but thankfully they didn’t and I appreciate that a lot. It’s just easily accessible as long as you have the expansion.

The word “expansion” is interesting because it can mean just about anything. It’s not specific to like adding new Pokémon or actually adding story or even specifically a post-game story like we typically have for many of the main series games. It seemed that going the route of DLC’s rather than releasing a sequel like Black 2/White 2 or Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon meant that maybe we would just expansions that did give us more story and more game to actually play. That was my biggest worry because I wanted something that was going to make me stay invested into the game that I had grown somewhat bored of.

Thankfully there is a story in the Isle of Armor, albeit not one that take entirely long to play through but at least it wasn’t just a new place to find newly added Pokémon. It actually made you work for that new Pokémon Kubfu which on one hand I just wanted them to give it to me because I was so excited to train it while on the other hand I felt like it was smart to actually make you work for it, so I count that as a win. The story doesn’t take entirely long as you have to complete different trials by Master Mustard (weird name) and then eventually you get a Kubfu. After that you have to train it and gain a friendship with it until Mustard says you’re good to go and then you get to pick one of the towers to train in.

I feel like this decision was one of the better decisions that they made because rather than forcing you to only be able to evolve it into a game specific form, you actually get to choose which one you want with it be the Fighting/Dark or Fighting/Water typing. I feel like this is a unique decision that could be more interesting to play around with in future games. I understand the advantage profit wise of wanting to have two different games for each of the box cover legendries but it would also be cool to see them allow you to choose which one you want while also giving up the other. It just poses some interesting questions as to where you could actually take that concept in the future and it could have some implications of what to expect in the next expansion The Crown Tundra. We know that there are two new “Regi” forms that could also serve as a means to allow you to choose one and give up the other or it may be that you actually get both, so we’ll see which is the case in a few weeks.

Before you can actually go into the tower though, there is a suggestion that your Kubfu be at least Lv. 70 before entering. I’m not sure if it prevents you from going in if you’re under that level because I trained mine to about 73 before I tried to enter, but even still it sets it up as being  difficult challenge especially since you don’t get to take any other Pokémon with you. Now training of course carries over from the rest of the game where you can train normal or just use the candies that you get from raid battles to just level it up quick. The candies are the quick and not as fun way of leveling up so I suggest the grinding way just to go back to the old days when you had to do that. It does however bring up the issue I have of the NPC’s on the Isle.

Despite everything this expansion does have, the one thing it doesn’t have is actual trainers to battle outside of Mustard and Klara/Avery. I feel like this is a missed opportunity to give us a chance to go back to the old ways of grinding to level up by going through various trainers. I also wish that in the expansion there was some sort of inclusion of re-battling trainers. It could have been the perfect place for us to have a spot to continuously battle trainers to train rather than the easy way out of just using the Exp candies. With the theme being a dojo it just seemed like it was a missed opportunity to do this.

That does bring me to the theme of this expansion being the dojo and the inclusion of the new outfit which I personally really like and continue to use now. I wish there was more customization to the outfit, but either way I really like it. The theme doesn’t reach much further after you get through the story part as it resorts back to just being a new “Wild Area”. This is what I mean by missed opportunity though. If their intention is to put a lot of focus on these game and expanding upon them then they should have put more effort into really making this unique to the dojo/ martial arts theme. As in, they should have made it the ultimate training spot, not just full of new Pokémon and Raids, but also plenty of NPC trainers for you to continuously battle to level up your Pokémon.

It even would have been awesome to see some cameos from some past trainers known for martial arts that are visiting to train their Pokémon like Chuck, Bruno, and many others. Rather than having that inclusion, we have a new form of battling being the type restricted battling at the dojo. While it is cool and does pose a challenge, it does bring me back to the worst part about the Battle Tower or other things that follow that model being that you don’t actually get experience for your Pokémon which ultimately sucks. To me, it’s about training your Pokémon and I feel like outside of the raid battles and the raid candies, they don’t give us enough to actually do that which sucks. I want strong trainers in-game that are difficult to battle and that will give us experience for our Pokémon.

Once you defeat Mustard and evolve your Kubfu into Urshifu then you get another side mission of finding a specific item that will be used to allow your Urshifu to Gigantamax. It’s a cool little side final mission that brings you back to Hop, but ultimately doesn’t allow you to actually battle Hop at any point which is a real shame. Another missed opportunity for a great rival throughout the game. You don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with your Urshifu after that point unless you really like it because it’s already almost at level 100. For me, I still use it a lot because I like the Pokémon, but I see others throwing it in the boxes and forgetting about it at this point.

After finishing the final side mission, you have a few other things you can do like upgrading the dojo, finding all of the Alolan Diglett, or exploring the new isle and the added Pokémon. It does bring in question again the issue everyone had with not including the National Dex because while they do bring in various new Pokémon that we all love, it still leaves much to be desired as far as all of the missing Pokémon. Some of which are being included in the next Expansion, but the others are still out there waiting for inclusion in the new games. I will say though that I like the Isle of Armor more than the Wild Area due to the uniqueness of the design and how fun it is to just explore the island. I also enjoy how open world it seems like being able to go out to the ocean and explore smaller islands. The biggest surprise for me was when I first showed up and there was just a giant Wailord in the ocean which was a pretty sweet visual that I think they intended on doing to make some sort of statement.

Ultimately, after playing through the expansion and logging several hours, I have come to the conclusion that yes the Isle of Armor is worth it to buy for the expansion itself, the new Pokémon and the effect of making you go back to the game, however there is still much to be desired. A lot can be made up in the next expansion, The Crown Tundra, but as of right now I think that Game Freak needs to focus more on giving players a reason to stick with it rather than just capturing players for a few days or weeks. The expansion offers a lot for someone to come back to, but doesn’t give you much reason to continue after you complete the “story”. We do get some new Gigantamax forms for Venusaur, Blastoise, and the other Galarian starters, but even that isn’t enough to save this from being something that I will soon forget about and become bored of until the next expansion.

Pokémon needs to focus on expanding the games to a point where there is so much to do in these games that it gives players plenty of reason to not grow bored after defeating the main story. The DLC’s are indeed an opportunity for them to keep players engaged and sticking around, but more can be done to make it successful. At this point I feel like people are very much engaged, but with the relatively short amount of time between the expansions I think they will be fine in keeping people invested, but it will be after the next expansion where I start to get worried about the interest staying high. I am excited for The Crown Tundra, but for now if you have played through The Isle of Armor than let me know what you think and if not then definitely give it a shot to see if you like it.

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Fant4stic (2015) Review

I am still probably the only person in the world that likes this movie, well at least the first half. With Josh Trank making a comeback with his latest film “Capone”, I thought it only right to review his other films too. Trank is a guy I’m sure we all know because of the controversy around this film. There are a lot of he said/she said stories that came out of the production and while I’m not one that’s going to sit here and pick sides, I will just say that I am a big fan of Trank and his work on Chronicle and what I feel like was really good in this movie. This review will be posted after I have seen Capone which I haven’t yet, so I will not be making any comparisons between the two. This is simply how I felt after watching it again for the first time in several years to see if I still felt the same about it.

As I said in my opening line, I am probably the only person in the world that likes this movie. When I say that though, it really isn’t the movie as a whole rather that it’s just the first half of the film that absolutely love. This film is really a tale of two directors or two visions at the halfway point. I don’t know all of the specifics, but it is very clear that there were reshoots done and no really focus or story going into the second half of the film once our characters all get their powers.

That second half is an absolute train wreck that I can’t defend even with how much I really do like this movie. It’s a shame that something did happen to split this movie as much as it did, but the first half I will go back to as being very awesome. I know it’s not for everyone and not your typical “Fantastic 4” story, but it’s a super power origin story with horror elements that feels perfect. Does it work really well as a Fantastic 4 story? I don’t really know and honestly I don’t really care. What I loved most about the first half is how different this movie is than most of your other ones coming out.

Sure it’s trying to do the whole be darker thing that a lot of super hero movies tried to do after The Dark Knight, but it was also different. It felt more in line with Trank’s work on Chronicle where it feels more realistic with how the characters react in the circumstances. What made Chronicle so good was that it looked at the main characters as a group of guys in high school and how they would actually act if they had super powers. We could relate to them easily because we all likely would have done the same thing.

He keeps with this line of focus in Fantastic 4 because it shows how we all would likely react in the horror like circumstances. He could have easily taken it a more subtle approach and made it all happy go lucky like the original Fantastic Four films, but I love that he wanted to do something different and give us some horror elements to it. Because of that, we get some truly terrifying moments when our characters are gaining their powers. It really works because it puts in perspective how real having powers could be rather than everything going as smooth as it always does in these super hero films.

I will hype up the first half of the film all day long because it feels like true Josh Trank style very much in the vein of Chronicle and what I was expecting. It is of course after that when the editing becomes choppy and the story loses all focus and any point of story with the only highlight being Victor Von Doom. That does also bring me to one thing that Trank is very good at. Casting.

It’s funny to look back at Chronicle now because it had Dane Dehaan and Michael B Jordan before they got big and now you realize how awesome it is that they were in such a small movie before. One of the true highlights of this movie is of course the casting. The most controversial one being Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm which isn’t fair because he’s an absolute perfect casting for the character despite all of the haters out there. It’s only rounded out perfectly with Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Toby Kebbel. I could probably sit here and hype up how much I love all of these actors, but I would really just like to highlight Teller and Kebbel as Reed and Victor.

Miles is a guy that I have loved mostly after seeing Whiplash, but I loved his casting as Reed and he pulls it off very well, the best casting though other than Michael B Jordan is Kebbel. He is an actors that I will watch in anything he is ever in. He as the chops in this sort of presence that makes him the perfect kind of villain. In this case he’s awesome and when he comes back and starts exploding people’s heads is awesome too, but it all falls apart because there just isn’t a story after he comes back.

That’s the biggest problem with this movie, that it seems someone came through and completely gutted the second half of this movie to make it run so off the tracks that you would be better off watching a real train wreck. There is just no story or focus after they get their powers and the movie suffers because of that. As I said earlier, I’m not going to pick sides, but let me just say this. It is very clear that the first half is directly in the vein of Josh Tanks style while the second half is as if he was painting a picture and someone cut off all of his fingers.

It’s just an absolute shame because this movie had so much potential under his direction and I feel like it shows early on. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will ever see the movie that he envisioned, sorry Trank Cut supporters out there. I’m with you, but it will never happen. The only thing we can hope for is that moving forward hopefully he won’t have any issues putting forth his vision in a project of his. And it sounds like Capone is a good example of him having a great time working and truly giving us his vision. Except that it should’ve kept Fonzo as the title.

Look, I can’t recommend this movie for anyone to watch because overall it’s not a good movie and I know that. This is easily one of the top guilty pleasures for me and I am probably the only person in the world that actually likes it, but hey if you want to watch it then give it a shot. If you have seen this movie and you have your own comments or questions then be sure to comment below or send an email to TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and be sure to follow us @TowerCityMedia

Capone aka “Fonzo” (2020) Review

A movie that seems to be only a part of a longer story that we should have gotten. Josh Trank makes his comeback from the disaster that was Fantastic 4 with this movie about none other than the notorious gangster Al Capone. Well the part of him that was older and lacking of a stable mental state. Capone is a movie that I have been looking forward to for a long time, not just because the casting of Tom Hardy as Al Capone is perfect, but also because I’m a big fan of Trank. I loved his work on Chronicle and I loved the first half of Fantastic 4, a movie that I feel he got done dirty with. Capone wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from him as his next film, but it seems to be a bit of a passion project being that he wrote, edited, and directed the film. Either way, I was very excited to see this so you could say my expectations were a bit high going into it.

It’s hard to actually describe the plot of this film since there really isn’t a whole lot going on, but at the same time there is but not in a deep plot sort of way. This movie is about how Al Capone is dealing with his deteriorating mind and how he’s struggling with grasping reality while having visions of things that may or may not be happening. The only real plot point that is recurring is that apparently Capone has ten million dollars hidden somewhere and everyone is trying to figure out where the money is, but of course his mind is so messed up at this point that he can’t remember where it is.

The problem with this movie is that it feels as if it was just a moment of something that we should have gotten much more of. This movie could have been shortened down to forty minutes and been a third of a whole movie about Al Capone from his prime to his fall and death. It’s unfortunate because Tom Hardy as Capone is really good, but we never get to see him give it his all as the gangster in what could have been an amazing epic with an impressive character progression.

Hardy of course is the real highlight of the film as the title character, but it’s hard to say whether his acting is actually good or if it’s just fortunate that he doesn’t have to do much. I’m not sure if I’m impressed by his performance or just blinded by the fact that it’s Hardy in the role. What I mean is that this might be the more mumbling role that he’s ever had even more so than Mad Max. He mumbles his way through the movie with mostly grunts and a few one word answers with some Italian sprinkled over.

This brings me to thinking about how it is impressive to see what he can do with his crazy look that he has or just in general his movements and facial expressions. I give him props for that, but dislike the fact that we don’t get much from him and actual dialogue. This all of course comes full circle back to how I feel about this movie as a whole. It feels as if it is but a mere moment in Capone’s life which of course is the point of this movie, but in the end it just doesn’t work as well as it probably sounds on paper.

If Trank had pitched me this idea on paper than I would have been on board because it sounds like a fascinating exploration of who Capone was in his final year, but the execution exploits the problem with the concept. I don’t think this falls on Trank and his directing because I think overall he did very well with what he had, and it isn’t even the writing which he also did. The problem is just that this concept sounds interesting, but looks like it would only work as being a portion of a much longer movie that explores the complete life of the gangster.

Last year we had The Irishman, and while I did enjoy the film, it wasn’t everything that I wanted it to be. Trank hit a wall with this movie where he seemed to push hard at what he wrote and the story he was trying to tell, but couldn’t go much further than that because the story just wasn’t there. This movie is more disappointing than anything else and not because it’s a bad movie. I don’t think this is a bad movie at all and I think Trank is definitely back on track of getting back on that directing horse, but it seems that because I could see the potential Trank had with his directing and Hardy as the lead, it left me overall disappointed because it could have been so much more.

This is going to go down as being an average film that I likely will only remember because of how much I like Trank as a director, but most of all it’s going to go down in my book as a movie that could have been something really special, but it wasn’t. I wish I could talk to Trank and actually ask him whether it was ever a possibility to make this a longer film that explores Capone’s whole life story. It could also have been that he was aiming to bring his name back to the industry with a movie that would make a statement and get him back in the light for studios which I think he successfully does. I can’t knock him for what he did given his circumstances and likely the constraints of what he could actually do, but I just really wanted more.

Overall this is a movie that I think everyone should give a chance just to see how you feel about it and to see if maybe I’m just crazy and this movie is just bad. It’s a movie that I would love to talk about whether it be the actual movie or the potential of what it could have been, but at the same time it’s not a movie that I will say is any better than average. If you don’t like gangster movies then you probably won’t like this, I guess, maybe you will if you like dramas? I’m not entirely sure.

If you have seen Fonzo, sorry Capone, then comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia also, I just want to say that this movie should have kept the title “Fonzo” I just like it more…

Trainwreck (2015) Review

One of the better comedies in recent memory, highlighted by great performances and great writing. Trainwreck was a movie that I remember seeing trailers for when it was coming out. It was a movie that also got a lot of good press and great feedback from critics and the general audience. I never felt like it was my kind of movie though, just because it felt more like a typical kind of Rom Com, so I just passed on it. A few years later I gave it a shot and actually ended up liking it a lot. I haven’t seen it in a few years though and I felt like now was the perfect time to give it another watch to see if it holds up! My one drawback with this movie is that I am actually not a fan of Amy Schumer. I can’t deny that she is great in this movie and she does great work, but overall I just don’t enjoy her that much in anything else.

The striking thing about this movie is the writing and the performance by Schumer who is the lead and also the sole writer on the project. I don’t know anything about Schumer’s personal life, so I don’t know if this story was influenced by personal issues that she has in real life, but it really does feel like the writing came from a place that she could relate to. For me as a writer, there’s no better way to show the true feelings in a story than being able to relate with what you’re writing. It adds a personal layer to the project that shows more understanding and care than say if you were writing about something you know nothing about.

I would assume that she probably lives in New York or has lived in New York and maybe some of her characters traits are things that she genuinely struggled with. Again, I don’t know if that is the case, but if it is than I think it was a smart move of her to really embrace her own life to tell a story and give it a comedic spin to show how somebody can change. The story isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before since it’s about a person coming to terms with what it means to grow up and mature, but it’s all of the elements that brings us to the finale and the performance that make this movie so good.

Talking about performances though, this movie is full of great cameos and surprising cameos from our leads and from some of our smaller roles. The real standouts are obviously Schumer and Bill Hader who both have great chemistry together. While this is the first and really only movie that I like Schumer in, I believe Hader is the true standout by not only giving us some comedic moments, but showing that he has great dramatic chops too. Hader, coming off of his career on SNL was the true standout as I believe this is the first film I ever saw him in coming off of SNL and he is just fantastic.

Schumer is also the second standout as she falls right into her role in this movie which may be the fact that I would assume she is able to relate very well with the character she wrote. She’s goofy and hilarious to watch while also showing great range from where we start to where we end. They really were the focus, but I’d like to shout out all of the great cameos and excellent performances for what they had which includes John Cena, Brie Larson, and LeBron James. There are also many other great cameos and some smaller roles, but those three really stood out to me as being great to see and I wanted to see more of.

Comedy is an interesting thing to talk about because I feel like by a lot of people it isn’t seen as being as difficult as say being dramatic. I feel the opposite though, I think that comedy is incredibly hard to pull off without feeling too cheap or corny. This movie because of the writing balances the drama and comedy so well that it really is impressive to see. Because of that, I want to focus more on Schumer and her writing rather than her and her acting. I think this movie she kind of proves to me that she may have even more potential as a screenwriter than an actual actor.

It also isn’t entirely fair for me to say that since I’m just not a huge fan of her acting anyways, but I give credit where it’s due. This movie she really is great, but I think it’s because of her writing and I would like to see her focus more on that aspect of her career. I even looked at her writing credits and it looks like this is the only feature film that she’s written which is equally as impressive.

I could go on and on about the writing, but I need to move on to the fact that this really is one of the better comedies in recent memory and isn’t just a Rom Com. It’s a movie with a ton of heart and great comedic moments, but focuses on a character who is struggling with coming to terms with something new that she isn’t used to and realizing that she needs to do what makes her happy even if it’s not something she’s used to. There’s a great message in this movie that helps make it that much better to watch, but the comedy and drama again are so equally balanced that it makes the film a complete solid film from start to finish. It’s easily rewatchable and a fun time for friends and family.

Thinking about it more now though, maybe you shouldn’t watch this with your family. Specifically because of John Cena and his sex scene that is both hilarious and uncomfortable at the same time. This is a movie that I will easily recommend to anyone just because of how enjoyable it is and how well written it is. It’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen in recent memory and enjoyed just as much the second time as I did the first time. There’s a lot to love in this movie and I think anyone will enjoy it as much as I did and if you didn’t then I would be surprised since there was so much working against it for me when I first watched it. Either way, just give it a shot if you haven’t seen it before.

If you have seen this movie and you have comments or questions then be sure to comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Truth or Dare (2018) Review

More fun than I expected, but still hold itself back from being the next great teen death movie series like Final Destination. Truth or Dare is an interesting kind of movie when I think back on it. It came out two years ago, and I remember hearing about it, but I didn’t realize till now that it was two years ago and that it actually ever was released. It sounds weird to say that, but this movie was a complete blank of existence to me up until a few days ago when I came across it and finally remembered that yeah it did actually come out. I don’t even think I watched the trailers for it and when I decided to watch it for this review, I just went in completely blind with my only knowledge being that Tyler Posey was one of the main actors. I was hoping for more of something towards Happy Death Day or Final Destination than Countdown, this movie actually falls somewhere in-between.

I’m trying to figure out what the fascination is right now for demons possessing things in these teen horror movies. It makes sense when you’re watching a movie like The Conjuring or Insidious and it’s a good excuse for something to be evil I guess, but I’m not a huge fan of it. For example, in this movie, the game “Truth or Dare” takes its deadly turn because of a demon or something like that possessing the game and that’s why it’s so deadly. The same thing occurred in Countdown and I never understood what the reasoning is for it.

Do we really need answers to those kinds of questions in these movies? I guess I may be in the minority in thinking that I would much rather just have a movie about these teens dying in different ways with no real explanation. I can see that some people would be upset and wondering why everything is happening the way it is, but there are movies that we all love that don’t give us the answers and we’re perfectly okay with it.

Just look at the Final Destination series. We know that a one person witnesses a traumatic event that leads to the deaths of their friends, we know that they are being haunted by death because they cheated death. There’s never an instance where they actually encounter death as a being, but rather almost as a metaphorical entity that still is affecting them. It has more mystery to it and adds more evil to death as a character in these movies. In a different sense, Happy Death Day kind of does the same thing. It never really explains why she keeps waking up, so we just accept it for what it is that’s happening.

I think it’s probably my biggest gripe in this movie and I probably went on too long complaining about it, but it’s something that I don’t like in some of the recent movies I’ve seen like this or Countdown. I just think that if they would have handled this specific part better in Truth or Dare then this movie might have actually ended up being much better than it was. Even with that complaint, I actually really liked this movie more than I thought I would.

The setup was all perfect although it did take a while to actually get to the deaths to actually start. All the characters were pretty good although also your typical kind of stereotype characters that you would see in these movies. Of course you get the main character girl and she likes her best friends boyfriend so of course you have to have that whole love triangle thing. It’s just a bunch of blah, but I look past it because it’s not something I wasn’t expecting in this kind of movie.

When we actually get to the deaths is where I feel a bit torn on whether or not I actually like how they go about doing it. When the Truth or Dare demon shows up, it possesses people or things to speak to our characters and ask them the question. When it possesses people it turns their faces in to extremely cartoonish faces that I know are supposed to be sinister, but just feel silly and kind of take away from the fun that I was having before that. I know it’s not that big a deal because it’s just to get to the question part, but still it was a little too much.

The challenges are also borderline for me with some being very well thought out and some being so obvious and eye rolling that I probably could have guessed it without having seen the movie. It was cool that it specifically targeted each character and the faults they have or the secrets they keep which in some cases are great but in other cases lead us to having our main character having to sleep with Tyler Posey as her dare just to piss off her friend again and then just to have him get truth and reveal that he doesn’t love this girl and blahhhhh…I could care less about that stuff.

The best two though I think are when Brad has to steal his dads gun and make him beg for his life which ends in a different but expected way that makes it kind of ironic that he was in a no win scenario and then when Pen has to finish the bottle of liquor while walking on the roof. Her death later on is incredibly stupid and I hated it because it was just to kill her and that other girl off, but this challenge on the roof was very unique and fun to watch. I think that’s where the movie hit its peak only to be bogged down by stupid subplots and bringing in the whole demon aspect.

This movie could have just been a new version of Final Destination and likely had more success with more sequels. You just have a group of characters in each movie that die in different ways when they get caught up in this game. You didn’t have to bring in the whole demon and trying to stop it and especially not with what Olivia did at the end. It was such a sop out that I understand leaves you in an interesting new direction for the future movies, but also leaves you in a place where you really can’t do something fun in the next one. You would have to write yourself out of a hole that you just put yourself in and I just don’t like it.

Truth or Dare is a movie that I had a lot of fun with and actually enjoyed for the most part but it still has a lot of issues. The biggest issue being trying to explain why they have to play the game with the demon being an actual presence and threat to them rather than just having them play the game because if they don’t then they die plain and simple. Sometimes it just works better to be simple than it does to explain yourself. The ending was disappointing and it doesn’t set itself up well in the future even though it think it does. I would still go ahead and recommend this to anyone that likes these kind of teen killer movies or however you explain them. It’s much better than Countdown, but not as good as like Ready or Not or Happy Death Day.

If you have seen this movie and you have your own comments or questions then be sure to comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) Review

An improvement on this first film, but shoots itself in the foot in the first fifteen minutes. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is what the studio called a soft reboot sequel of the 2009 film. I remember there being some kind of controversy or something with the trailers that were released and the movie itself, but since I didn’t really enjoy the first film way back when, I just never cared to watch the trailers or the movie and just ignored everything about it. This is the first time I have seen it and I went in as blind as could be knowing only that The Rock was in it and he is what they call a franchise saver. Without getting into any details yet, I did have to look up some articles about the one part that I think was the biggest mistake they made, so I will of course address that. Anyways, with all of that, let’s get into the actual review of this sequel/reboot/whatever you call it.

I’m just going to go head first into this and address the elephant of the room being the decision they made to kill Duke (Channing Tatum) in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. In further reading, I understood that they wanted to kill him to give the franchise a fresh start with The Rock as the lead. Fair enough, but anyone in their right mind who saw those first fifteen minutes and watched those two interact would have realized how dumb of a decision it really was.

There excuse was that they wanted a fresh start, their overlook was that Tatum would grow into a better actor and find success in the year before this movie was released and would turn into an actor that people enjoyed watching. They even tried to expand his role a slight bit with reshoots, but ultimately it ended up being the worst decision they could have made. The chemistry that Tatum and the Rock have in their scenes is so genuine and perfect that it’s almost a crime to have not just rewritten the script to have Duke in the whole film.

I don’t understand what their decision was to kill him off anyways. I know they wanted a fresh start, but if you’re going to have him in it then you might as well just leave him in it until maybe the end. There were very few actors that carried over into this sequel, but it’s a crime that Tatum wasn’t in this whole movie and playing of The Rock. I am so upset about that not happening and to make matters worse, Bruce Willis is also underutilized.

Okay, with the elephant in the room addressed, I will go into the rest of the film that is actually not bad at all. The movie is much more grounded than the first film was and feels more like a Mission Impossible movie. It still has its cartoony kind of characters like Cobra Commander and his silly helmet, but it’s a much more grounded film with action that actually feels exciting and bombastic rather than fake and mostly CGI. The action itself looks like what you see in a Fast and Furious movie, so I guess you could say this is a mix between Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible.

Choosing The Rock to lead this franchise and take over the reins from Tatum was also a smart move because he of course is always fun and exciting to watch. It would have only been better if Tatum was still involved to play off of each other, but unfortunately we got Flint instead. Flint I guess Is supposed to play the second lead along with Jaye, but neither one really stands out that much or comes even close to having the same great chemistry Tatum and The Rock had in the beginning. It’s just unfortunate that things turned out the way they did because you could see the potential this movie had early on, but it just never reached that level for the rest of the movie.

The story isn’t too bad and is actually much better than the first movie while also being not that great. It picks up right where the first one left off, but with new actors playing the villains so again it’s a sequel but a reboot which I understand to a point, but I just don’t understand why change everything when the story is still going to be a continuation. I also wonder if this is the first time we’ve ever seen all of the countries in the world launch all of their nukes at each other. I’m sure there’s probably another movie that has done that, but I can’t think of one.

The movie slows down a bit in the middle leading up to the last act with the one highlight being them finding the original “Joe” played by Bruce Willis. He’s on the poster, so I actually assumed that he was going to have a fairly large role, but it’s a bit of a trick since he’s really only in the movie for about ten minutes. Again, it’s unfortunate because he was actually really good and an interesting character that we just don’t get enough of.

This movie expands on what it set up in the first film and elevated it to a more realistic level making it more enjoyable to watch without thinking it to be too cartoony. Overall it is just a better movie that only fails because of bad choices, some that could have been prevented and others were just circumstances of an unpredictable situation. The Rock is a great character to have in this franchise, but would have only continued to make Tatum better if they had took a chance with him one more time. I actually would have liked to see where the next story would have gone despite the issues I had with it.

I can’t say that it’s a great movie or that you should watch it, but it is more enjoyable than the first film. It may be worth a shot just to see how much better this one is, but at the same time I don’t want to get your hopes up. Me asking someone to watch this movie is like asking someone to watch a good Marvel movie, but also tell them that you’re just not going to get a sequel even if you like it. Watch it if you’re interested I guess.

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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) Review

A little too fantastical for my taste, but full of potential. Watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies led me to watching the first of the two G.I. Joe movies. The first one, this one, is the only one I have ever seen and it was released in 2009. That was the first and last time I ever watched it until now. The only thing I remembered about it now was that Channing Tatum was the lead and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the villain that I actually didn’t know until several years later. I was much younger at the time that I first watched it and I think I enjoyed it back then but I really can’t remember. You could almost say that I was going in completely blind since it had been so long. I can’t say that I had any big expectations, but from what I’ve heard over the years, the bar was set pretty low.

First things first. This was back when Channing Tatum hadn’t quite found his footing yet for being the kind of actor we know him as now. I actually really like him and several of his films that he’s been in and he has shown that he is a very capable and skilled actor. However, this movie was at a time when he was just not great and it shows. He does alright with the little bit of script that he has available, but he isn’t quite ready for his own franchise yet. I wonder if their intention was to give him a franchise with G.I. Joe, but he also wasn’t established yet so I’m not sure.

As I said, the only other actor I really knew about other than Tatum is Gordon-Levitt who plays the main villain. It sucks that we don’t actually get to see his face except for two or three scenes because he’s a very good actor. The problem with him in this movie is that he is just your typical mustache twirling villain that seems more robotic than anything else. His motivations also don’t make much sense, but that really brings me to the fact that a lot of things don’t make sense in this movie.

All of the side characters are okay at best with nobody actually standing out except maybe Marlon Wayans who seems to be the only person that is the least qualified to actually be on the team. It’s never really explained why he’s on the team other than being Duke’s buddy, so I guess as long as you know someone you’re good. I mean I guess things like this are just nitpicks, but they all added up by the time I got to the end so I suppose they stuck out more by the end than I actually expected them to.

I know that this movie is based off of the action figures by the same name so there really isn’t much source material to go off of, but they seemed to be a bit lazy with their writing, most notably with some of the names. We have Stormshadow and SnakeEyes for example who are just named that because reasons. We never get any kind of explanation and it seems like everyone calls them by their names with a hint of sarcasm. It could have just been how I interpreted it. Even the villain names came out of nowhere with no real purpose or explanation except that you would know it if you know the action figures I guess? I’m not really sure, I just didn’t understand the references.

The action wasn’t terrible with a lot of the boots on the ground stuff being quite appealing and still holds up today. The highlights would be anytime Snake Eyes is fighting or during the Paris scene when Duke and Ripcord have those Exo suits on. Despite the complete lack of care for civilians, the scene was actually a lot of fun and enjoyable. Snake Eyes in all of his scenes gives us just that fun hand to hand action, especially in his last fight against Stormshadow. All of the bigger scenes that involved more jets or submarines or just the whole big underwater end battle seemed a bit dated and didn’t look quite as good as I was hoping.

Surprisingly though Stormshadow and Snake Eyes’ backstory was more interesting than anything else in this movie. That brings me to the actual story going on in this movie. The villain plan with the nanomites being stolen and then retrieved by the guy that sold them is all bland and typical, but I look past that to see what we actually get with character development. There is development but this movie just lacks any kind of real depth. I know that the focus may be towards a younger audience, but at times it feels way too childish for the skin it has on.

The motivations and plot points for everything going on are so simple and basic that they really don’t hold up at all. It’s a problem that really holds this movie back because they have potential with the source material. I say source material, but I mean more with what they had setup rather than what they actually executed on. It was all still enjoyable on a surface level, but it was more basic than your typical kind of basic action movie. It’s just incredibly forgettable and didn’t age very well because of their bland story choices and occasional shoddy CGI.

This movie doesn’t hold up, but it has so much potential with everything they set up. This could have been a mega hit with Channing Tatum except that they were a few years too early with him. They needed to focus more on making it a somewhat more grounded kind of movie rather than one that seems like it’s more fantastical. It actually feels more like someone made a movie of them playing with the toys in their room. I know it might work for some things, but this movie really would have served better being a more grounded action war movie, but it chooses to be more childish and cartoony. It just doesn’t work with the kind of movie it is.

I guess if you like G.I.Joe then you should go ahead and give this movie a shot, but at the same time I don’t think anyone will really want to waste their time watching it. I’ve heard better things about the sequel, especially since it’s considered a soft reboot, so maybe that would be a better movie to watch, but we’ll see when I review it. See this movie if you’re interested, otherwise just skip it entirely.

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Pet Sematary (2019) Review

I guess if you already did then you might as well go for it with something new. The 2019 Pet Sematary remake was a movie I wasn’t looking forward too much after not enjoying the first film all that much, but I had my fingers crossed it would be a little better. I remember there being a bit of hype leading up to the movie, but I don’t remember to what extent. I know that we were coming off the heels of IT which seemed to revitalize Stephen King properties and their potential, but it could have also been the casting of Jason Clarke in the lead and John Lithgow as Judd. I don’t think I ever watched the trailers because at the time I had no real interest in it, so going into this movie I only had the first one as a sort of base of what to expect. As I said in that first review, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Let’s see if that was the same this time around.

Jason Clarke as Louis and John Lithgow as Judd immediately elevates the remake from the first one since one of my big issues with the original was that the acting just wasn’t great. Keep in mind though, this isn’t a movie that is going to highlight the acting abilities of either of these actors, but it does help to have two guys that are capable of doing a lot with a little. Jason Clarke is also a lot more emotional throughout the film and we can really connect with his loss more than the actor that played the role in the first film.

The biggest thing though that struck me about this movie was the subversion of expectations. From the opening shot we actually see the end of the film but with no characters and I for one immediately said, “well I know how we get to this point”. The funny thing is that I was way off base and wasn’t expecting the movie to deviate from the original as much as it did. I say that like it’s a different story which it’s not entirely, but it is very much different in the last third than the first one and I assume the book.

That brings me to my statement of, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This is a statement I say regarding these movies, but is also a statement that is striking to a character like Louis who should be told this before reviving anyone. In the first film it was more of a “just because you can make an adaptation, doesn’t mean you actually should because does it actually work as a movie?” Well the original when I think back on it, I may have given a little less credit than it actually deserves, but it could also be that the writing and directing in this one is just better so it highlights moments in the original that I didn’t think much of.

One of the important problems I had with the first film was the lack of explanation for some of the paranormal stuff going on. I understand that some things don’t need answers, but this movie still does the same thing of not quite explaining what’s going on. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the dead guy showing up so that Gage can see him and influence some of the characters, but again I just wish it was understood more of what exactly was happening.

The other event that really irked me was how Louis kept going to the basement and was practically teleporting somewhere, but I guess he wasn’t because he was actually asleep, but I guess he was because his feet were dirty. I just never understood the point in it or what message they were trying to get across with it. This remake did however highlight and elevate Rachel and her sister. That was something that just seemed to be placed there in the first film for the sake of something creepy and it feels somewhat the same in this movie except it’s more involved I suppose. I just think it worked a lot better in this one so I had a better experience with it in the story.

I guess the best thing about this movie is that it takes the story and twists it to give you a different result than what you had in the original. I’m not entirely a huge fan of the story, but that goes for both movies. The motivations of Louis in both movies seems to not be explained that well other than the fact that he just wants to bring someone or something back. Anyone in their right mind would decide against trying to bring something back, especially a person. Now in the book it may make more sense than it does in the movie, but it’s just an issue I have because the motivations just aren’t there to work for me.

Ultimately, this movie is an improvement on the original, but more for the fact that it’s a few decades newer so the effects are better and they got a better cast and crew to work on it. The change up for where the story eventually goes was a nice switch from what we got in the original, but it’s not enough to save this movie. In an era where we are getting quality horror films every year and more of them rather than your typical kind of throwaway horror film, this movie felt like it could stand out from the rest. Unfortunately it just doesn’t and falls more in the category of being made just to get the Stephen King fans that jumped on board with “IT”.

I think the studio would have been better off leaving this one behind and understanding that the story while interesting, just doesn’t warrant a sequel when there’s not enough depth to either of the films for us to really need another one. I will say that this is for sure the better of the two, but by no means is it a standout movie. Unless you have some urge to seek out this movie and watch it, I would just skip it and forget about it. The original has the advantage of being a classic kind of horror film from an era where it might work better, but for the new one, it’s just not worth the time.

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Pet Sematary (1989) Review

Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Pet Semetary is a movie that I grew up hearing my parents talk about how scary it was when it came out. It was always a lot like Poltergeist in their eyes and while I do remember watching Poltergeist as a kid, I can’t recall watching Pet Semetary. The one thing I did know growing up was that Stephen King was a bit of a twisted individual but very much a gifted writer. This story is a somewhat simple and predictable tale, but one that I know could be executed in a way that makes it a really great movie. That’s what I thought going into it, but after watching it I soon realized something, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

It could just be this adaptation of the book since I haven’t yet watched the new remake, but this movie seems to show the flaws that King does have when writing. I understand he write the screenplay as well, so there’s no blaming the writing on another person. I can’t say that this isn’t a good story in a book format because I actually think this story is good if I were reading it, but I think it tends to not work as well in movie format. I will go ahead and explain what I mean by that.

So the movie is pretty simple as I said before and incredibly predictable which is fine as long as it can pull off the execution. We have a family moving into a new house which leads to the discovery of the Pet Semetary which leads to their cat being killed only to be revived by Louis and then eventually his son being killed and of course he revives him. Sorry for the spoilers on this movie from a few decades ago, but it seems pretty easy to put two and two together to come up with this even if you just read the premise.

So the plot is all well and good, but that’s the extent of where this movie goes. The only backbone it has to support it as being watchable is the last thirty minutes when everything starts to come together and the real horror begins. That’s the problem though, it takes too long to set up everything without any kind of midway threats or exciting moments to get the blood going before we get to the main event.

King is a horror writer and this movie is considered to be in the horror genre, but that only really becomes true in the final act of the film. I guess it could be me being desensitized by not being scared by much anymore, but all of the ghostly appearances or paranormal like scenes are good I guess, but it doesn’t do its job. Those scenes specifically are made to add to the level of terror and the impending doom that we finally reach at the end, but they really are just there for the sake of being there. Is the family being haunted because of Louis’ connection to the Semetary? I mean that’s fine except that it really isn’t explained all that well unless I just missed it.

On top of that, there are some visuals that don’t make much sense like when Louis goes into the house at the very end and it looks like the house is all rotted and covered in moss. These are connected to like paranormal visions of some kind, but why is he seeing that and why can their daughter have dreams of everything that’s about to happen? There are just too many questions that are left unanswered that could have been explored more to give us more depth to the story and characters.

All of this comes to a peak though when you’re struggling to make the best out of this movie, but even the actors can’t help you. I don’t know if this movie was just considered a risky project so they didn’t want to spend that much money on getting some acting talent, but these performances are just not good. Our main character Louis should at least be someone that can hold his own, but he seemed silly and unbelievable anytime he opened his mouth. And to bounce this back to the writing and I would say the directing, how would you be so oblivious to your surroundings to allow your young child to get that close to the road?

Okay, maybe I’m starting to think too realistic about this and not giving it a little bit of leeway for being a movie, but still, this movie has a lot of problems. On the flipside though, the last thirty minutes is actually really good considering it was made a few decades ago. Of course the practical effects can look a little wonky and laughable at times, but it’s the real horror that kicks in at this point and gives me what I was hoping for the whole film. We see that Louis has descended into complete madness of course by bringing back his son, only to elevate his madness when he tries to bring back his wife.

His character is most interesting in these last thirty minutes because of this descent. The only downside to the ending though is that while we do get some interesting shot of this young boy murdering two people that makes me think of Chucky. It does seem that they could have shown a bit more for us to actually enjoy the gore and horror. I was impressed by the young boy though who had to play a sadistic killer in the vein of chucky except that he was actually a real boy so props to him.

In the end, I’m left with a simple question that I started this review with. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, right? This story might be loved in book format, but just because it is a King novel, does it really warrant an adaptation. Let alone a remake? I haven’t watched the remake so maybe it does a better job and I’ll have more to say when I review it, but as of right now I just feel like this is a movie that just let me down and shows the unevenness that King can sometimes have in his writing. I just wish it was more of a horror film rather than just thirty minutes of horror. I would say for now just go ahead and skip this movie unless you are like my parents who think it’s scary even though they probably haven’t watched it since it first came out. Wait for my review of the remake to see whether either of these is worth watching.

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Mrs. Miniver (1942) Review

An essential watch for any film fan and a great companion for several World War II films. This week for our Oscar Bait series of reviews where we watch a past Best Picture winning film randomly selected each week, we had to watch the 1942 film, Mrs. Miniver. Coming off of The Greatest Show On Earth, I was hoping this next classic film would pack a little more punch with its story. I knew nothing about this movie going in and had never even heard of it despite my several film classes. I guess that just goes to show that I must not have done enough research of past winners as I maybe should have. I can’t say I was entirely excited since watching these older films tend to have drawbacks such as being black and white or dated special effects, but of course I went in open minded and ready for whatever it was about to give me.

This movie is a little slow to start as it sets up our main character Mrs. Miniver who lives a life of extravagant spending and returns home to her husband and children. They take time to develop this family and how they are well off with a nice home and maids or butlers. While it really was slow to start because I wasn’t sure where the story was actually going, there is a point about thirty minutes in where you actually get to the heart of the film.

It’s about this family as they deal with the events of World War II, and not just living through its existing in the world, but rather having a son that is in the Royal Air Force and having some of the battle actually taking place in their town. It’s an interesting change in tone as we go from this upbeat kind of well off feeling with this family that changes into a more serious drama about the important things in life.

All of the characters are excellent with Vincent, the son, and Mrs. Miniver being the real standouts. Vincent was of course in the Royal Air Force and served as our possible fodder to the war at hand. For the longest time I was expecting this movie to go into a direction of maybe killing him off that it never takes. Rather this movie shows itself to be one of the earliest films I’ve seen so far to actually trick me with a twist that I didn’t see coming. SPOILER ALERT*** In case you don’t want this 80 year old movie spoiled for you, Vincent’s new wife Carol actually ends up being killed during the air raids above their small town.

It’s a twist that is unexpected and heartbreaking and very clever all that same time. It’s a moment like that where I feel at the time it came out, that it was probably a very bold decision to make, but narratively is such a smart choice that I applaud the director for being willing to take it. It’s a subversion of expectations that I believe strengthens this film to being very much worthy of its Best Picture win. It’s not just that twist that cements this movie as being a surprise hit for me though. It’s also the incredible directing, cinematography, and writing on top of all of the actors.

The writing, dialogue specifically is so sharp and quick that even though the movie feels like it’s moving slow, you are still invested in every word their saying because they don’t give you a second to think about the slower pace towards the beginning. On top of that though, the writing is clever and witty and just makes the movie that much more fun as I feel the actors truly embrace the characters the more they actually get into the quick pace of talking and snappy dialogue. It makes them easier to connect with and feel for.

One of the true highlights of The Greatest Show on Earth was the train wreck scene that happened towards the end of the film. I could very much tell that it was a model, but it still held up as being impressive to watch. This movie is older, but has a scene in which we a see a huge group of ships joining together as they head towards the battle of Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers on the beach. It’s a shot that is visually impressive and I really can’t tell if they are models or if it was done with real ships. Either way it doesn’t matter because it’s one of the best shots of the whole movie.

Also on a side note, I mentioned the battle of Dunkirk which this movie talks about and if you haven’t watched the Christopher Nolan film “Dunkirk” then I definitely recommend watching it before giving this a watch. It’s not necessary to enjoy this movie, but adds another layer because I know what the battle of Dunkirk is like and what was actually happening since we don’t actually see it in Mrs. Miniver. As I said in the beginning of this review, this is a great movie to watch along with several other World War II films because this will add some understanding to the more civilian element of what the war was like.

Finally, it’s clear that none of this would have been successful if it weren’t for the director who managed to pull all of this together and make a movie that is truly impressive and is great to watch. The only issue I did have other than the beginning being a little slow is that the rose competition sucks since I can’t actually see the difference in the roses. I know that they are different shades of grey, but I just wish I could see this movie in its full color just to have a better understanding of that competition. I would definitely watch it again in a heartbeat if there happened to be a color version, but really though this movie is great.

Look, I know that there aren’t too many people out there, especially in my generation or younger, that would be willing to seek out this movie and watch it, but hear me out. If you love movies and the history of film and like to go out of your way to better understand where your favorite directors learned from then you need to go back to the past and watch these movies. Not all of them are going to be easy to watch or enjoyable, but you have to venture out and give them a shot. Mrs. Miniver is a must watch for any film buff or film history fan and I really think it should be watched for anyone who wants to branch out and broaden their spectrum of movies they’ve seen.

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