Aliens vs. Predator (2010) – A Fun Game That Could Have Been More

     There have been quite a few games in the “Aliens vs. Predator” Franchise. The one I played was the one that came out in 2010 and is the most recent in the Franchise. “Alien” and “Aliens” are two of my favorite films and I have watched the first “Predator” film. I have not seen a full version of any of the other films or any of the films in the “Aliens vs. Predator” Franchise. I do enjoy this world though. The Xenomorphs and Predators have great designs and the humans in this series are flawed. This game does a decent job capturing all of this, though I wouldn’t call the game good, which I’ll get into below. It is fun though, so if you like this world you should check it out if you can get it on sale for cheap.

The game was developed by Rebellion Developments and produced by Sega.

The story follows a marine who arrives on a planet during a Xenomorph takeover, a special Xenomorph who escapes from a lab and a young Predator who is arriving to prove himself to his warrior people.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Tension in Gameplay – One things this game does well is that there is always tension in gameplay. Whether you are an alien, predator or marine you feel vulnerable and it is easy to get overwhelmed by enemy forces so the game forces you to be smart. You can’t just walk through the story and not have any strategy.

The World – You have an ancient Pyramid built by the Predators that hold their history. You have  a corrupt corporation Weyland-Yutani trying to steal technology and experiment on Xenomorphs and you have Predators trying to clean up the mess humanity is making. It is a really interesting story that just needed deeper development of all 3 of the factions.

The Campaigns – The campaigns are all a pro but I’m going to give each an individual score depending on how each of their stories was handled. All the stories are interconnected which makes the narrative a lot of fun.

Marine Campaign – The marine campaign is the most basic. You are a rookie marine who soon becomes the only survivor besides your commander Tequila who has a chestburster injected into her at one point in the story. You take out a few Xenomorph Queens in the story and a Predator as well over the course of the story. Your story starts with survival, working with a scientist named Katya who betrays Weyland-Yutani and finally confronting Weyland who it turns out is an android. You call in his escape craft and your story ends as the pilot says they’ve secured a “live specimen” and discovered the coordinates of the Xenomorph homeworld.

Final Score: 7 / 10 It could have been more if the marines or Weyland was fleshed out more. They exist for the plot and there isn’t any depth beyond that. It is still basic enjoyable.

Predator Campaign – The Predator campaign involves you destroying dead Predators who were defeated prior so their technology doesn’t fall into enemy hands and ends with you walking the path of your ancestors as you take on powerful Xenomorphs and finally destroying the Pyramid to keep the humans from getting your technology. The campaign ends with the Pyramid destroyed and you rising to the top of your Pack as your ship sets off for the Xenomorph homeworld.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10 I’m rating this story a little higher because you are witnessing the history of the Predators and the arc of you becoming leader makes sense. My main issue on why I wouldn’t call it good is there is still no nuance or depth to the Predator characters. More lore but there is nothing to the characters.

Alien Campaign – The Alien campaign is the most fun. Aliens are the weakest out of all the 3 factions you play as. You start out as an experiment but start a breakout from your lab and free the Queen. You and the other Xenomorphs have control over the planet until the Pyramid and prime Queen are destroyed but you are saved by the original scientist who was experimenting on you in the beginning. In the last shot, you Experiment Number 6 has now become Queen and the scientist is your prisoner. The implication is I think you are an intelligent enough Xenomorph that you are probably going to return to your homeworld like the other 2 campaigns.

7.5 / 10 Your character is vulnerable and it is a completely alien perspective. The same can’t be said of the Predator whose honorable drive could still be based in human cultures. The Xenomorphs are fully alien and that is what elevated it. Still wasn’t good as it is a really short campaign and how you end up captured at the end just kind of happens. Nothing you do in the campaign logically leads to your capture.

The Cons:

Weyland-Yutani Motivation – Weyland-Yutani seems to be seeking immortality and technology but even with the Weyland Android that isn’t well explained. The entire organization is full of mad scientists and androids who are evil for the sake of being evil. This is such a shame as the idea of seeking greater technology and power could be used to better humanity but the organization discards people and barely functions.

The Predator’s Human Voice – The predator says “Fuck” a lot as a distraction and it struck me as childish. Was this supposed to be badass? All it did was made me not take the young Predator whose campaign I was playing less seriously. It was crap writing and was hardly needed. If anything it made the Predator’s less alien when exploring the alien aspects of them is what made them compelling (their technology and code is cool). I would have rated their campaign higher if not for this awful edgelord distraction.

As someone who has only seen “Alien” and “Aliens” and the first “Predator” film, I had an enjoyable time with this video game. The factions play different enough that no campaign feels the same and though the story is basic, it is fun. If you are looking for a cool way to explore those universes than I would check out this game if you can get it for cheap. I bought it cheap on Steam for a nice escape during Covid-19, I had a lot of fun.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10 Enjoyable but could have been more.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary – Still A Great Space Opera and Introduction to an Awesome Universe

Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary HD Wallpaper | Combat evolved ...

“Halo” is a game that I played multiple times growing up, but never had the chance to complete until now. I remember playing it at friend’s houses in High School and College and each time found myself fully drawn and involved in whatever mission we’d do or if we’d start from the beginning. This is game is an epic space opera and the simple mystery and story serves it so well. The gameplay also holds up after all these years and the A.I. being strategic leads to some wonderful challenges during the missions. Without going into spoilers, this is a game that has been out for years and is one I highly recommend. I bought the “Master Chief Collection” on Steam and the Anniversary version of “Halo” gives you the fascinating option of tabbing between the original graphics that look like they are from an N64 in quality to the more beautiful modern graphics today. If you are a fan of shooters and science fiction games I’d say this one is well worth a buy.

The original “Halo” was made in 2001 with Microsoft releasing the “Anniversary” version in 2011. The “Anniversary edition was developed by 343 Industries and Saberinteractive, with Bungie, Gearbox Interactive and Westlake Interactive developing the original game with the publisher being Microsoft Studious and Macsoft.

The story follows Master Chief when he is awoken from cryosleep when the retreating United Nations Space Command (UNSC) ship Pillar of Autumn stumbles upon a mysterious Halo. From here Master Chief and Cortana must uncover the mysteries surrounding the Halo and what the enemy Covenant forces are seeking upon it.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Gameplay – The gameplay still holds up to this day. The enemies react and think strategically, with Elites jumping and dodging and the grunts who follow them panicking. There are also the Hunters who can only be hurt by being shot in the back and Flood who have multiple weapons and attack in hordes. You can use Covenant weapons and vehicles and the play very different from UNSC vehicles and weapons. The mission progression forces you to learn and get good with all of these things and rewards you for well done tactics against them. The game is so much fun.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack one of the best in any videogame. It has this gothic operatic feel to it that gives you the stakes and how epic the war to save humanity is. Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori truly created a beautiful masterpiece. I’ve used this soundtrack in the past for creative writing it inspires so.

The Universe – This a fantastic universe we are introduced to. We have humanity on the run but still fighting against the larger Covenant forces that are seeking to wipe them out. Along with this we get the mystery of the Halo and with it the Forerunners and the Flood and hints at a greater world that we are a part of. I’m a huge fan of this universe and finally finishing the game that started it all showed me where it all began.

The Covenant – The Covenant as they are presented in this game are an Alliance of aliens seeking to annihilate humanity. They have advanced technology and are seeking power to end the war. I loved fighting them. The Elites have cloaked units, can ride vehicles and command Jackels (snipers) and Grunts (the main ground soldiers) against you as well as fielding large creatures called the Hunters who travel in packs of 2. When the Flood are released they are in the same boat as you as the Flood overwhelm both the Human and Covenant forces on the Halo.

The Flood – The Flood are a parasitic species who turn their hosts into zombies and seek to consume all life. They are so creepy and I loved their horror movie introduction and the fact that they send so many at you with such a variety of weapons that you need to always be moving in order not to get overwhelmed. This game is full of apocoylptic threats to Humanity…from the Covenant, to Guilty Spark and the purpose of the Halos and the most horrifying unending Flood.

The Mystery of the Halo – The Halo function a lot like the Reapers in “Mass Effect.” They are there to wipe out all organic life so that the Flood will not win as all it takes is one flood in order to spread and when they spread they cannot stop…so the Forerunner plan was to starve them and ending all life was the way to do so. We see this all through Master Chief and Cortana’s eyes as they learn about the truth of the Halo along with us. This was great storytelling and part of what makes the game work so well.

343 Guilty Spark – Guilty Spark is an A.I. who in has lost all contact with the other Halos. You get the idea it’s gone a little made in the time it has been and all it really has is the program and activating the Halo if the Flood ever becomes free. Guilty Spark is very matter of fact even while doing devastating experiments and even has nostalgia at the time before during the Forerunners, which you can listen to at Terminals. It really is a fascinating character and I liked the twist that in the end it was the main antagonist, not the Flood or Covenant who had been the main threats through most of the game.

The Rising Stakes and Ending – This movie has consistent rising stakes and in the end all the people Master Chief was trying to protect are destroyed by the Covenant, Flood or when Master Chief and Cortana destroy the Halo. The universe is saved but it costs everything. I felt that and the game handles the rising stakes so well. You begin saving squads to bring the fight to the Covenant but then your Squad releases the Flood and eventually they consume your boss Captain Keyes and most of the UNSC forces. Even at the end the dropship coming to save you is shot down by Covenant Banshees leaving you to make a last minute escape out of the Pillar of Autumn before you blow up the core and prevent Guilty Spark from activating the Halo.

Okay:

Master Chief and Cortana – Master Chief is alright. I appreciate how sassy Cortana is to him but I don’t know his motivation beyond the mission or why he was in cryosleep. They care about the crew and their fellow soldiers but I feel like the relationship could have been developed further. These were two minds that needed to depend fully on one another to destroy the Halo and stop Guilty Spark from destroying all life in the Universe. Again, they weren’t bad but the relationship was pretty basic compared to Jack and BT in “Titanfall 2.”

The Cons:

Defining Enemy Leadership – We have the Flood and the Covenant but in the first game we don’t really learn much about who are what they are or who leads them. We know both are aliens and the Flood are all about consuming everything but Guilty Spark has way more definition and clear goals than either forces. I know this gets rectified in 2 but if Halo 2 had never been made and this is how the world had ended the game would feel underwritten here. They all still feel like a threat and the stakes continue to rise, but I wanted more world building in this game. We see everything through Master Chief’s eyes but besides Cortana and Guilty Spark not many people answer his questions or give him information beyond the mission.

This is one of my favorite games and it does still hold up after all these years. If you are a fan of first-person shooters, epic science fiction space operas and want an introduction to one of my favorite science fiction universes you should check out this game. This game is a classic and was Microsoft’s way of selling their game systems for good reason. I look forward to beating the rest of the series.

Final Score: 9 / 10 Solidly great introduction to this fantastic universe.

Dawn of War III: Solid Campaign That Began in a Buggy Game

   It has been a while since I’ve done a game review, and this seems like a good way to kick off the year. I only review games after I’ve completed the campaign as I’m a hardcore completionist and can’t see the review as valid unless I have. Cheats don’t count, it has to be from ability and me learning how to play the game. The “Dawn of War” Franchise is also one of my favorite series. I’ve been a fan of Warhammer 40K and the universe it is based in for a few years now. My favorite factions being the Orks and Tyranids closely followed by the Tau. Xenos (the term in the game for aliens) are best.  The game was created by Relic Studios with Sega in partnership with Games Workshop.

So, how does “Dawn of War III” hold up compared to the ones who came before? It isn’t nearly as fun as the first game (and there are less starting playable factions) the game started out really buggy and used to crash everytime I tried playing the campaign when I bought it in a sale last year but the campaign has one of the best stories and enriches the characters and lore in interesting ways. What this means for my final score and overall appraisal I get into below.

The story follows the arrival of a giant Craft World (Eldar Planetship) that arrives out of the warp leading to Blood Ravens led by Gabriel Angelos, the Orks lead by Gorgutz and the Eldar lead by Macha vying for control of what is within as their competitors within their own faction (be they leader or same or similar rank) try to usurp them for the Spear that lies within.

SPOILERS ahead

The Cons:

The Bugs When I First Bought the Game – When I first bought the game I’m glad I bought it on a sale and for cheap, so to anyone buying it this what I recommend. This game will never be worth full price, especially not as it is currently. I was excited to play given I knew the characters from the first game, but the campaign kept crashing. This happened for a full week before I uninstalled and it took reinstalling months later for them to have fixed the issues. For those who are so devoted they beat the game with that bug, I have no idea how you did it. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or fun a game is if you can’t play the game.

Over-dependence on Hero Units – This is a game where you depend too much on Hero units but the build time isn’t as fast as “Warcraft III.” I pretty much had to adapt to playing the game more like “Dawn of War II” which is primarily units, heroes and upgrading them and applying that to a game that I enjoyed as an RTS. If they took more cues from “Warcraft III” this wouldn’t be a problem. In “Warcraft” your heroes help but they can lose on their own, it also takes more to bring them back to life so the cost is higher. If you aren’t giving them enough support, they will fall. I saw this in “Dawn of War III” but so much of it was waiting. If you could hold off long enough in any map you’d be unstoppable and in endgame that really shows. Heroes are fun, especially in the final mission but a company should never build a game off them. Even “Warcraft III” and “Starcraft II” knew the importance of your hero supporting an army.

Lack of Factions Compared to Earlier Games – The very first “Dawn of War” game had 4 factions. 4, reskin but different play-style of “Space Marines.” This game has none of that. You fight demons, but they are never playable. There isn’t any reason for this, given you can see units of the different factions being re-skinned to be the Demons being an option later on in the campaign. This was just lazyness. We at least got Chaos Space Marines through all of the first “Dawn of War” series and this game won’t even give the basic of the last 2 games where in each 4 were at least playable in multiplayer. This is cheap, I don’t care how beautiful the game works if you can’t even do the basic of the series that started your franchise in the first place with at least something to counter it that matters.

The Pros:

The Graphics and Cinematics – This is a beautiful game. I’m putting this as a pro because even though it is small I do enjoy how this game works. Hell, a better version of this game would be a re-vamped version of the first game. So I will give credit where it is due. The graphics in this game look like how I imagine the characters to look. It is “Starcraft” versus “Starcraft II” in appearance and I do appreciate that. It also leads to better graphics in regards to storytelling and the story is the strongest part of this game. I think they were going for what “Starcraft” and “Stracraft II” had with 3 factions but they had already set base expectation of 4. If 4 was even in multiplayer and the Daemons or another faction were included more that would have made this game go from enjoyable to good.

The Overall Gameplay – The gameplay is solid. Hero units are key to fighting (I can see them trying to be “Warcraft III” and “S In “Dawn of War III” the heroes drive the narrative and that creates a lot of fun for the missions. I liked what happened with playing as the heroes and what you unlock as they level up (it is much more slowly so when I play the game further in the future curious to see what that means). I like this got back to the RTS roots of the “Dawn of War” franchise in the end. This was why I finished the campaign. There is still strategy in how you use your units to defeat the mission and I really enjoy coming up with strategies to complete objectives in these types of games.

The Campaign – The campaign was my favorite part of the game. I’ve enjoyed this series since the first “Dawn of War” and the expansions that came after it. I’m still trying to get “Ultimate Apocalypse” mode to work but once I do I will eventually have a review for you there too as I get more enjoyment out of an RTS than the squad based combat of “Dawn of War II.” Without giving too much away the 3 faction leaders mentioned above (Macha, Angelos and Gorgutz) face off against a Daemon Lord as they (in the case of Gorgutz) or the faction leaders (Macha and Angelos against the ones who had brought them to the Craft World where the showdown takes place) lead to the feeding of the Daemon’s power and awakening it. This is Warhammer 40K so it goes all in on how crazy things get. This leads to some amazing gameplay in the later missions and a final battle between Macha, Angelos and Gorgutz against the weakened Daemon Lord. Defeating it felt amazing and as someone who has always loved the Orks, I loved seeking Gorgutz take the Speer that triggered it all when it no longer had power. The campaign made the game worth it for me as I enjoy the lore so much.

This is a game that could have been so much more. There is a reason I keep recommending it as something to buy cheap. To fix the most basic of problems they could have solved all the bugs first so someone buying it months after the fact wouldn’t have the campaign crashing every time and they could have added the Daemons as a factions. All you have to do is reskin some Orks and Eldar and add some Daemons and hero units and you are set. Beyond laziness I can’t imagine why they did that. I still love RTS games and this is the last RTS game that was “Dawn of War” since the first one. “Dawn of War II” was all about the squad which I’m still getting used to (reason you haven’t seen it reviewed yet). I appreciate building armies in an acocalyptic universe and giving my all. This one had this with the heroes and the last half of the campaign and I did enjoy it…but this is a game only for fans who are a part of this universe. It doesn’t rise above the fans of 40K and even cheapens them out. Buy this game cheap and you’ll have a good time but NEVER buy this at full or even half price. This was Sega and Relic going basic and giving the most basic of fans of wanted who have been following the series. Still enjoyed the game, but it never reached good. This game is enjoyable and nothing more. I would only recommend as a sale for fans of this universe. The campaign made the game worth after the bugs were finally fixed.

Final Score: 7 / 10. Would have been a solid 8 if it hadn’t been so buggy and they had a 4th faction like the last 2 “Dawn of War” games.

Original “Dawn of War” Reviews – Dawn of War: Game of the Year Edition

Dawn of War Game of the Year Edition

       Warhammer 40K is a fascinating world and the first “Dawn of War” does a great job exploring it in the campaign and story. I wish the Tyranids had been an added faction though, as they are more well known than the Eldar it seems. Sadly the Tyranids would not be playable in this series, only through a mod are they playable in “Soulstorm” it is a pretty good mod though. Enough on what this game doesn’t have though, how does it work and what is the story?

      The story involves the Space Marine Gabriel Tosh and his Librarian Isador going to the planet Tartarus to save it from the Orks. Things soon get out of control though as Chaos is seen to be working behind the scenes and the Eldar strike against. It soon becomes a race against time to get the Malidictum as an Inquisitor arrives to root out Chaos on the world.

The Pros: The Gameplay – The gameplay is much faster than “Starcraft” in regards to RTSs and reminds me a lot of “Warcraft III” where the name of the game is speed as you only have 2 resources to deal with and build times are fast. The factions are also unique enough in how they play too which makes it interesting as you capture points on the map and seek to take out the enemy’s bases.

The Factions – You have the Orks who are my favorite who like the Zerg can get a lot of units on the map and are mostly close range in their types of attacks and like fighting for the sake of fighting, you have the Eldar who are like a weaker Protoss but are good at hit and runs, you have Chaos who has a larger build time but some of the best end game units and has caster units as they are Daemon worshippers and you have the Space Marines who are the most balanced and serve their Emperor with religious devotion.

The Ending – The ending ends with Gabriel freeing the Daemon trapped in the Malidictum and vowing to get back at him. We never know if the Inquisitor was working for Chaos all along but the fact that the Eldar and Space Marines weren’t killing each other on the final mission was major progress which I liked. Tartarus is also lost and overrun by the Orks.

Okay: The Story – The story is alright but the Librarian’s corruption could have been handled better…everyone was way to naive and stupid with only the Eldar being the smart folks. The Space Marines were just as stupid about fighting as the Orks and Chaos was Chaotic Stupid as everyone turned on everyone and only the Daemon ended up winning as all his servants died in the fight which was enough to free him. I liked the Inquisitor, the Orks and the Eldar though. Gabriel was just bland, which is saying a lot given his backstory was destroying his homeworld after believing it had fallen to Chaos.

Orks and Eldar – The Orks and Eldar are okay. The mysteriousness of the Eldar and them knowing things about Chaos was handled great, but they had no named characters. The Orks weren’t much better but their love of fighting and being the biggest and meanest and loving Waghhh! Was done really well.

Chaos – Chaos was Chaotic Stupid though I did enjoy the Sorcerer trolling everyone and Chaos did have a great aesthetic and they were tough to fight at times…they actually felt like a threat!

Gabriel and the Inquisitor – These two are alright. The Inquisitor suspects Gabriel because he destroyed his homeworld but in the end trusts him after Isidor’s betrayal and we see them have a respect for one another as Gabriel distrusts him too since he is part of the Inquisition. They both have arcs though and in the end both lost to Chaos even though they survive.

The Cons: The Librarian – I didn’t believe in this guy’s corruption. He had no reason to seek power and we never saw him use what power he had for the Imperium. For this reason his excuse of using the power of the Warp and Chaos in that way was bs and in the end he was just a weak character with missed potential.

   If you like the world of Warhammer 40K, you will probably like this game. It is one of the few Original “Dawn of War” games with a campaign and it is a lot of fun! The 10th level is the most difficult and the final level is easier by comparison but there is still a learning curve for those unfamiliar with RTSs, and if you are familiar the missions are fun and are a great way of revealing the story.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Needed more exploration of the other factions outside the Imperium and Chaos could have been written much more smarter. Still a good game though.

Original “Dawn of War” Franchise Reviews

Dawn_of_War_box_art

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed games, the last one being gone home…as I’m still suck in the “Starcraft: Brood War” campaign reviews on the Zerg Campaign. I don’t feel comfortable reviewing the campaign or a game until I’ve finished the campaign and got to try out the other features. For “Dawn of War” this will be easy, minus the “Winter Assault” campaign of the 2nd game which I remember being rather difficult.

      I’ve read some of the “Space Wolf Omnibus” as well as some of the Codexes on the different factions, so the world has always been rather interesting to since college, as my introduction to this universe was through “Starcraft” who took inspiration from this game.

    This is a franchise that inspired “Starcraft” as the Zerg are inspired by the Tyranids, the Protoss by the Eldar and the Humans have space marines in both worlds and tend to have governments that end up being based in nobility or tyranny, and of course having no elected leaders. Where the emphasis on Starcraft was on politics though, Warhammer 40K has more so been on magic and survival as the different factions rarely if ever worked together due to them representing the worst of humanity so often (fear, zealotry, etc.). 40K is also more fun in a lot of ways as the Orks, love to fight for the sake of fighting.

   In each of these reviews I’ll go into gameplay, what faction I enjoyed the most and how I thought the story campaign was executed. These will be the deciding factors on what score each of them get, and when I get a better computer I plan to do this for the “Dawn of War 2” franchise as well.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): A Great Approach to a Space Marines and Alien Invasion Story

Edge of Tomorrow

“Edge of Tomorrow,” directed by Doug Liman has along with “Pacific Rim,” helped re-establish my faith in original Sci. Fi. stories in regards to Hollywood. I’ll get into the why in the assessment, but first the premise which in and of itself is promising.

It is loosely based off the Japanese light novel “All you Need is Kill,” where Rita’s name comes from as well as the origin and name of the mimics and the UDF (United Defense Force). After watching the movie I look forward to reading it in full.

Edge of Tomorrow is about Cage (Tom Cruise) a corrupt army officer who is conscripted into the final battle against the mimics (the aliens who have conquered nearly all of Europe), resisting every step of the way he is on the battlefield and it is there he kills an Alpha (mimic general) and get’s it’s blood in his system which allows him the powers of the mimics to repeat each day. From here it is him being trained by and working with Rita (Emily Blunt) to stop the mimics conquest of Earth.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The premise – Is awesome! He’s basically living in a videogame, but the A.I. (other characters) can end his infinite lives if they give him a health pack (Blood transfusion) rather than killing him…it makes thing at stake, not to mention the trauma of having to die again and again “Groundhog Day,” style. The premise is fascinating since it’s ties to videogames are more subtle than other movies (“The Gamer,” etc.).

The technology – The United Defense Force (UDF) has a unique take on Space Marine outfits. They are mixture of modern day but also have new and old things (robotic arms that can fire attached to the back, and in the case of Rita’s character – a sword). You can tell they took tribute from Warhammer 40K and Starcraft (two of my favorite sci. fi. worlds).

The Characters – It would have been easy to make all the characters stereotypes…but the movie resists that. Tom Cruise’s Cage being a media relations slimy coward (reminiscent of Wikus from “District 9,”) is great. Cruise usually always plays likable characters so it is nice seeing him play someone who will die a bunch of times before he finally learns to be a decent human being.

Rita – Emily Blunt’s character Rita is awesome. Nicknamed “The Full Metal Bitch,” she is tough and complex…a commander worth following and someone who has been hardened by war but can see the bigger picture because of her getting the ability that Cage had at one point earlier before the film takes place.

The Squad – Cage’s squad of criminals is pretty awesome. They each have interesting quirks that set them apart from others in this genre. From the guy who doesn’t wear pants and lets it all hang out, to Ford who took his friend’s place after his friend was killed, to Nance who is a bit crazy.

The military/United Defense Force – Isn’t perfect in this, it isn’t some jingoistic tribute to them like most Michael Bay and Oliver Stone movie…it is a bunch of human being in a tough situation trying to deal with it as best they can. You see this in their fear of Rita and Cage when they find out about their abilities and to their following “The Plan” of the invasion of Normandy even after Cage and Rita have proven they see that it will fail. The good (heroism against the invasion) and bad (unquestioning loyalty above all else, distrust of new ideas or things) is shown really well in this film.

The tribute – The invasion of Normandy as a tribute to D-Day is handled well too. The human cost is shown by Cage living the failed invasion (in this universe) each day. You get to know the characters and what drives them. Their, “So what’s?” in regards to what they do.

Okay: The script – Didn’t have fantastic writing, but was okay. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t elevate anything since it tried going for a pretty weak trope that I’ll go into in the cons.

The cinematography – The cinematography isn’t anything special. It is better than Doug Liman’s other stuff (the Bourne Series) but that isn’t saying much. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great.

The Mimics – A lesser version of the Tyranids and Zerg. There were some interesting ideas with them but like the Muto in “Godzilla,” they weren’t fully realized. Found the Kaiju in “Pacific Rim,” more compelling. These guys weren’t bad…but the Tyranids and Zerg (where I think the inspiration came from) have a lot more complexity as a species. The Mimic’s Omega (Think Zerg OVermind – controlling brain), is just kind of their and we don’t get their motivations. Cage says their motivations don’t matter at one point, but I disagree – motivations make a peoples or individual compelling.

The Ending – It leaves you thinking if it’s all just in his head and if the Omega came back…since it never explains how he’s repeated the day with them victorious. This kind of takes away from the sacrifices and they go with the implied romance at the end again…when that was one of the weaker parts of the film.

Cons: The Romance – Rita (The Full Metal Bitch) falls in love with Cage (Tom Cruise). What the hell? We see no reasons for this, since she is a pretty asexual character, devoted fully to her cause. She saves his him multiple times, but also kills him multiple times. The friendship eventually makes sense…it is her learning to trust again, not the romance.

The sexualization Rita – A lot of times her character is shot in such ways that sexualize her for Cage. From her doing Yoga (and you hearing a really strong breathing in) to her kissing him at the end. Again, she’s the Full Metal Bitch…Cage is never comparable to that…in the end he is an average corrupt Joe who becomes more…but not someone who seems to interest her in any way at all. It was tacked on and brought the film down. If they wrote her differently it would be more believable, but not for the character we see and come to know.

I recommend this film highly. It is no “Pacific Rim,” (see how Rita was handled) or “District 9” (Tom Cruise is no Sharlto Copley) but it is a really good film. Not the best this summer (that still goes to “Captain America: Winter Soldier” – Which I saw months before starting this blog) but it is an enjoyable experience and manages to change some tropes and handle other sci. fi. tropes in such a way to create a really compelling story. One of my favorite films for sure and the best Tom Cruise Sci. Fi. film since “Minority Report.”

I give this film an 8.4 / 10.