I’ll be honest. I was never that big on Kick-Ass from the beginning. I never read the graphic novel so I knew nothing of the story about real life superheroes. Was I interested in the movie? Sure I was, but when I went to see it I went in with very low expectations. I thought the movie was going to suck, and early on my theories were somewhat correct. Then there was that moment when the foul mouthed Hit-Girl showed up on the scene, and kicked the shit out of everyone to the theme of the Banana Splits. From that moment on I had a big smile on my face, and my excitement level towards the movie continued to increase. The movie may have been called Kick-Ass, but it was Hit-Girl that stole the show. Now the sequel has finally arrived, but this time my expectations were at an all-time high. The good news is that Kick-Ass 2 didn’t disappoint.

While the first Kick-Ass dealt with the possibilities of being a real life superhero, Kick-Ass 2 became more about the consequences of those actions. Dave Lizewski’s (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) actions as the hero Kick-Ass has become the inspiration for many others to dress up, and take to the streets as superheroes. Mindy Macready, aka Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz), was forced to retire from the superhero game, and live the civilian life as a teenager where she finds a new challenge. High school, and a Mean Girls inspired clique. As for Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), well he wanted revenge for the death of his father. How does he get that revenge? He decides to become the world’s first super villain known as The Mother Fucker, and hires his own “Legion of Doom” to reign down death and destruction.

With Dave unable to cope with life outside of being Kick-Ass, he finds a group of others just like him called Justice Forever led by Colonel Stars and Stripes played by Jim Carrey. While Carrey might be against violence (which is the reason he’s not promoting this movie), he was fantastic in his role as he owned every scene he was in. Donald Faison was also fun in his role as Dr. Gravity with his signature baseball bat weapon. Kick-Ass also has a new love interest as he gets it on with his new girlfriend Night Bitch, played by Lindy Booth. Those roles were notable, but there was one person who really stole the show, and that was Mother Russia played by Olga Kurkulina. She was the most dominant of all the villains especially when she showed off her deadly skills by killing ten cops in one over the top sequence.

Unlike the graphic novel, I felt like Kick-Ass 2 was holding back on a lot of the original source material that the movie was based on. I can understand that, because some of the more graphic details are not here or they were altered so that the movie going public wouldn’t be turned off or offended by it. This also leads to the one problem that I had with Kick-Ass 2. This movie was trying too hard to top what was done in the original. For example, the shock and awe of the potty-mouthed Hit-Girl shtick has worn on off audiences, so they’re not going to say “Hey, remember that scene where Hit-Girl…” However, she does have one awesome scene as Mindy where she gets her revenge on the clique which will have audiences laughing hysterically. The only other issue that I have is that while the movie is called Kick-Ass, I still feel like Kick-Ass’ character takes a back seat to everyone else.

Now I know that the critics are panning this movie in a big way, but Kick-Ass 2 is not as bad as what they’re saying. These critics just don’t understand what makes this movie so entertaining. It’s not perfect, but Kick-Ass 2 has it’s moments that had me laughing as well as it’s “kick ass” moments especially in the final fight scene with Kick-Ass battling The Mother Fucker and Hit-Girl fighting Mother Russia. Kick-Ass 2 didn’t fulfill the very high expectations that I had, but I still thought it was a good movie. Just don’t expect anything better than the shocking original. Oh, and make sure you stick around after the credits for an extra scene which leaves open the possibility of a Kick-Ass 3.

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I think I can say that I’m a little obsessed when it comes to the original Plants vs Zombies game. I became so addicted to the garden defense gameplay to the point that I had to own the game on every platform in my possession including my iPhone, iPad, and Xbox 360. I almost purchased it on PlayStation 3, but I was able to calm my gardening urges. With that said it looked like my obsession would finally calm down, but all of that would soon change when a certain sequel would arrive on my iPad and iPhone. Plants vs Zombies 2. The Crazy Dave in me has once again resurfaced as my obsession to defend my lawn against the endless zombie horde is back. Why? Because I’m crazy!

Plants vs Zombies 2, from PopCap Games, is a free-to-play game available exclusively on iOS devices. Wait a minute! A game published by EA is free? Did I just step in to the Twilight Zone? EA and free are two words that never go together. There’s got to be a catch. Well believe it or not there is no catch, no pop-up screens demanding money, or lite version of the game. Plants vs Zombies 2 is considered a “freemium” title where I can play the entire zombie defense game without spending a dime, but there are options available in the store for me to spend my hard earned money for some new plants or upgrades if I choose to, however it’s not required.

Just like the original game, Plants vs Zombies 2 still had me eliminating the zombie horde by using my army of plants and endless sunshine against them. Basically, it’s the same addicting game that I’ve been playing for the past couple of years. Just like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While the original game had me defending my home, the sequel had me going back in time to destroy the zombies in places including Ancient Egypt and The Old West. Each of these new stages looks colorful and fun, and I also like the Super Mario Bros. style overworld map for stage selection.

With a new game comes new plants to choose from. I did have some favorites to mix things up on my battlefield with my peashooters and sunflowers. I had a blast with the Bloomerang allowing me to hit zombies with boomerangs, the Bonkchoy which threw punches, and the Coconut Cannon shot coconuts for some big damage. While those plants were fun to use, the one I enjoyed the most was the Snapdragon. Any plant that can shoot fire across three rows is awesome in my book. Also added to the game was plant food which is obtained from killing the glowing zombies. Using plant food on one of my plants granted them momentary beefed up abilities to help take down a large wave of zombies.

While the gameplay is addicting and fun, there was one thing I didn’t like and that had to do with the store. One of things I noticed in the store was some plants that can be used in the game for a fee. These old favorites in including the Snow Pea, Jalapeño, and Squash would be really useful but they’re costly. I guess losing some helpful plants is the trade off between having a free game, and one that would cost a bit of money. Then again I do like some of the new plants so I probably won’t miss them that much. I can always play the original game.

Plants vs Zombies 2 is more of the same, but this same is still addicting and fun with tons of replay value. It’s a game where it doesn’t matter what skill level you are, because it’s casual enough for anyone to pick up and play, and have a good time. I didn’t care about the story, but I still love Crazy Dave and his antics. The zombies are also humorous and at times can put up quite a challenge. The best part about the game is that it’s free, so there’s no reason for anybody to not download this game.

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Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: iPad, iPhone
Players: 1
Price: Free

Once again it looks like Microsoft has announced another policy reversal. This time it’s in regards to the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One. Stemming from an Ask Microsoft Anything article from IGN, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten has stated:

“Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console’s core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.”

So what does this all mean? Basically, it means that the Kinect sensor is no longer required in order for the Xbox One to function. No more worrying about Microsoft “spying” on you. No more Kinect…period! While this latest reversal has Xbox fans once again rejoicing, I begin to wonder whether this change is a so called “victory” for gamers? Honestly, I don’t think so. The conclusion that I draw from all this is that Microsoft has raped the identity of the Xbox One leaving gamers confused about Microsoft’s next-gen vision.

Yes, Xbox One actually had a vision, however gamers including myself saw it as a console filled with restrictive policies that seemed to benefit the publishers more than the consumer. Personally, I was pissed off about the requirement of Kinect, DRM, always online, and no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. All this gravitated me towards the PlayStation 4, and by E3 my decision was made after the Sony press conference as Jack Tretton stated that the PS4 was everything opposite of what the Xbox One was as well as $100 cheaper. I was sold. The PS4 was for me.

What has happened since E3 has had Microsoft backpedaling, and the results that followed had me wondering just what the heck was going on in Redmond. For a while I believed that Microsoft had it’s head on it’s shoulders, and was taking the correct steps in bringing a community of gamers together. Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically, because I now believe that Microsoft is absolutely clueless about what they’re doing. The last couple of months have been filled with reversals that include the Draconian DRM, self publishing with indie developers, always online, and now the Kinect. To put things in a nutshell, Microsoft has abandoned just about everything the Xbox One was supposed to be in terms of the future of gaming and entertainment just so they can compete with the PlayStation 4. Basically, the Xbox One is nothing more than a beefed up Xbox 360. Now why would you want something that you pretty much already have?

And what about the Kinect?

Now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory, developers might decide to no longer include the use of the peripheral when making their games. Why enhance the gameplay with a device that gamers were against using in the first place? This once again makes the Kinect nothing more than another useless gimmick. As of this moment, Microsoft has no plans to remove the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One which means first adopters will still have to pay the $100 extra for something that they might never use. For some this is a waste of money. Microsoft, on the other hand, can only hope that gamers will actually use it.

From excitement of the announcement to damage control that followed, it’s such a shame to see how far Microsoft has fallen in just the past few months. They’ve completely lost their way, and I just don’t understand why some people are such Microsoft apologists after all these reversals. The Xbox One now has a major identity crisis, and I no longer know what this console is or what exactly makes it so special. Maybe what Microsoft should’ve done was stick to their guns, and slowly ease people in to what could be the future of gaming and entertainment. Unfortunately, all Microsoft has done is continue to dig themselves further down the hole while still not finding a way to get themselves out of it.

* Source of linked IGN article written by Scott Lowe

Since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the rumor mill dealing with anything from “A Galaxy Far, Far Away” was running at a feverish pitch. Not long after Disney signed the paperwork they announced a new Star Wars trilogy starting with Episode VII, directed by J.J. Abrams, releasing in the summer of 2015. While that news was exciting, there was a tremor in the Force that was felt by the fans about a larger Star Wars presence in the Disney theme parks. It was time for answers to all the burning questions, so Star Wars fans all over the world flocked to the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. Sadly, there must have been a large Sith presence clouding our vision, because all we got was a tease.

The first bit of news that had fans upset was the lack of Episode VII news. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn started to tell fans what they already knew about the movie in terms of the director, screenwriter, musical score by John Williams, and release. Then the bad news came. Horn said “I do wish I could tell you more, but…” all of a sudden the “Imperial March” theme echoed through the building, and then came the words that nobody wanted to hear from Horn’s mouth. “There are dark forces. And they are watching.” No surprise here as audience booed in response to that announcement. Not even Marvel movie news, or the presence of Angelina Jolie promoting the upcoming Maleficent movie, could save the disaster that is no Star Wars news.

There is still hope. What about Star Wars Land?

With the Star Wars theme park attraction rumors exploding in the past few months on numerous websites, the big question amongst fans was what can we expect with this upcoming Star Wars Land at both Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Rumors centered around a Mos Eisley Cantina, speeder bikes on Endor, podracing, a walkthrough of the Millenium Falcon, and even a dueling indoor roller coaster featuring X-Wings and Tie Fighters. Disney had the chance to blow the roof off, and give fans something to cheer about besides a new movie. Unfortunately, all we got was a bunch of crates.

Orange Harvest. This should ring a bell with Star Wars fans when Lucasfilm was shooting Return of the Jedi, and code named it “Blue Harvest” just to keep fans off guard. Even though these crates were nothing more than hollow props, each of these crates did give clues of what to possibly expect while one of these crates contained “top secret plans”. Those “plans” however, were just a bit out of reach of fans to see what’s in store in the near future, but rest assured the Imagineers are hard at work and construction of this technical marvel will begin very soon. We know that once the walls go up Disney will no longer be able to hide their “Potter-swatter” from the masses.

A weekend full of hype was nothing more than just a false hope. We may have received no new Star Wars news at the Disney D23 Expo, so that means that the wheels of the rumor mill express will continue to turn for just a little while longer. I’m sure that one year from now we’ll know more than just rumors as Episode VII draws closer to release, and Star Wars Land will be off the ground and running for it’s eventual opening. Until that time let’s have faith in those who will help bring the saga to life in ways we’ve never seen before, because we all know that Disney won’t Jar Jar these projects.

When I saw Neill Blomkamp’s big screen feature debut with District 9 I wasn’t sold right away. I don’t know why, but it took multiple views for me to finally appreciate the vision that he brought to the table. Blomkamp presented a sci-fi masterpiece that centered around the issues of segregation with humans and aliens. The film also introduced me to a new actor in Sharlto Copley who was phenomenal. Since the success of District 9 I haven’t heard much from Blomkamp until now with the release of Elysium. After seeing the film, I can tell you that Blomkamp has once again struck gold with a solid sci-fi action movie featuring strong ties around the issue of health care.

Elysium takes place in the year 2154. Earth is now nothing more than a poverty stricken wasteland filled with overpopulation and disease. While the people of Earth struggle for a way to survive, the wealthiest citizens have fled the planet to a new home. Elysium. An orbiting citadel where the rich are living in a peaceful lap of luxury. Basically Elysium is a paradise, and the people of Earth will do just about anything to get there. Why? Well that’s because it’s more than an escape from the horrors of Earth. Elysium also has a machine that eliminates all illnesses from the human body including cancer.

Matt Damon stars as Max DeCosta who unfortunately receives a lethal dose of radiation while on the job. With only five days left to live his only choice is to do whatever it takes to get to Elysium. What happens from that point forward helps solidify Damon as an major action superstar. Sure he was great in the Bourne trilogy, but it’s what transpires in Elysium that helps put that consideration over the top. Jodie Foster also stars as Elysium’s Secretary of Defense Delacort, but her role probably could’ve been played by anyone since her performance is somewhat notable but forgettable at the very least. The same can also be said about Alice Braga who plays DeCosta’s childhood friend Frey.

While Matt Damon is the star it was Sharlto Copley who is reunited with director Neill Blomkamp who literally stole the show. Copley plays the psychotic villain Agent Kruger who’s out to stop DeCosta (Damon) from reaching Elysium. Once Delacort (Foster) gave the command “Activate Kruger” I knew that it was time for the action to pick up to a frantic pace with some cool weapons and battle sequences. Copley is great in this film as he literally stands out in every scene that he is in with his attitude and delivery. What really amazes me is the overall range that Copley has in the roles that he plays. How come this guy doesn’t have more roles in Hollywood?

Where Elysium truly shines would have to be when I saw how both sides lived their daily lives. The deplorable conditions featured on Earth made everything believable describing a world in shambles while Elysium showed a world of brilliance and perfection. Other than the life saving health machine I could really see why the citizens of Earth really wanted to get there for a better life. I also enjoyed all the action with fight scenes from Damon and Copley even if at times the fights moved so fast that the screen couldn’t seem to catch up, but this is only a minor gripe. I’m sure my HDTV will do much better when I get the Blu-ray.

No need for multiple viewings to get the film’s message. Elysium sold me from the trailers, and the end result was sheer amazement. The film is a great blend of sci-fi and action with great pacing as well as great acting from both Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley. Neill Blomkamp now has two successful films under his belt and will hopefully receive more director jobs on future. Now that he has conquered the themes of segregation and health care I wonder what he’s capable of doing next. A live action Halo movie? One can only hope.