J. Zachary Pike's

Blog of the Strange and Fantastic

Fiction, Gaming & Writing

Movies, Video Games

Lightning Reviews: Farmers and Foul-mouthed Killers

There is a paradox in being an adult geek. On the one hand, the modern nerd is perpetually complaining about how little time there is in the day and how inordinately busy modern life has become—to the point of taking pride in the sheer quantity of responsibilities laid at one’s feet. Yet that same geek is also consistently able to find time to waste on popular media. I originally wanted to call this phenomenon the “time paradox,” but that particular phrase has more than enough meanings amongst my intended audience.

Whatever we call it, I am completely guilty of this geeky hypocrisy. I have been too busy—too busy, I say!—for consistent blogging, and yet I’ve had time to watch movies and play video games. But such is life in the throes of electronic addiction. I’d imagine, anyway. I don’t have a problem. I can quit whenever I want.

In the meantime, perhaps the best way to solve my blogging drought is by turning these diversions into a post. Specifically, I’m going to review them. But I’m going to keep the reviews really short. Because, as you may have heard, I don’t have time for blogging.

Deadpool

You’ve probably read a ton of positive reviews about Deadpool—that it’s grotesquely violent, foul-mouthed, and hilarious, and as such is delightfully true to its transcendentally insane protagonist. They’re all correct. The only negative thing about the film is the way it’s already driving executive lemmings to make more Rated R comic movies, as though the naughty words alone were the secret to the film’s success.

Zootopia

I used to pass off my Disney obsession as professional curiosity, but my animation years are well behind me. Now I just admit to loving them, and Zootopia reminds me why I do. It’s clever, fun, and has some incredibly memorable characters (including, now that I think of it, a pack of executive lemmings. And here I thought I was being clever earlier.) I did read, however, a review that said the film had a good message without being preachy. I’d disagree. The film had a great message, but it was definitely preachy. Still, I count myself among the choir, so preach on, Zootopia. Preach on.

The Good Dinosaur

I wish The Good Dinosaur was also the Good Movie, but that’s far from the case. The animation was gorgeous, but the addled mass of cliches that The Mediocre Dinosaur served up as a plot never connected emotionally. It’s depressingly uncharacteristic for a Pixar movie.  It reminded me of Home on the Range: a beautiful waste of animation time and talent. With all the sequels slated up for Pixar, I find myself wondering if some of their story talent is trending back to Disney central. (Not all of it, of course. We can’t forget Inside Out).

X-COM 2

Firaxis’ reboot of X-COM 2 was a fantastic revitalization of a nostalgic classic. So they did it again in X-COM 2. Literally. This is almost exactly the same game. The mechanical tweaks have been positive, and the story is serviceable, but overall it’s more of the same. The difficulty curve is also broken—I’ve seldom played games that get easier as you go, but that’s exactly what X-COM 2 does.

Stardew Valley

I’ve spent the last 15 years being nostalgic for Harvest Moon. I’ll spend the next 15 being nostalgic for Stardew Valley. I can’t tell you why a retro farming sim with RPG elements is compelling, but I can say that I’ve spent a regrettable amount of March tending to digital vegetables. The fact that one developer made it is both unthinkable and inspiring. This game far outpaces the games that inspired it; it far outpaces the triple-A titles I’ve played recently (certainly X-COM 2.) I can’t think of a better gaming value out there today. Seriously, pick it up.

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