Happy New Year: 2020 Review!
Greetings, welcome to the last blog update of 2020 as I round up my picks for the entertainment categories of this year. As usual, the winners do not need to have been released in 2020 but just have to have been reviewed on my blog during the past twelve months. Considering the enforcement of restrictions and the general upset caused by Coronavirus, a considerable number of planned films and scheduled television shows had been pushed back for later releases which makes entertainment choices for this year a bit scarce. Despite this, I’ve still enjoyed some great media in 2020. Feel free to add what you enjoyed during the year in the comments if you’d like to do so.
Television Show of the Year: Bojack Horseman
An animated show that ran for six seasons from August 2014 to January 2020, Bojack Horseman flawlessly blends dark subject matter with well-crafted humour as it follows washed up actor Bojack struggling to live his day to day life. This show is voice acted by an impressive cast that consists of Arrested Development’s Will Arnett in the titular role, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, GLOW’s Alison Brie, School of Rock’s Amy Sedaris and comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Aside from having hard hitting emotional elements, it also has plenty of visual comedic moments in the background and subtle jokes that are easily missed which are a couple of reasons that make this one of my favourite TV series. I am also very fond of the more bizarre humour that often comes from the unfortunate mishaps or well-meaning blunders of best friends Todd Chavez and Mr Peanutbutter.
Book of the Year: Cujo
Published in 1981, Cujo is one of King’s earlier works and it is fairly well grounded in reality compared to his other books. The more mystical elements are only hinted at as opposed to being out front and centre on this occasion. Cujo is a Saint Bernard who becomes rabid after being bit by an infected bat, spurring the dog on a murderous rampage as his condition deteriorates. The novel also revolves around the struggling Trenton family who are in the midst of a familial feud as Donna, the mother, is having an affair behind her husband Vic’s back. Their four year old son Tad is stuck in the middle of the failing marriage. The book was adapted into a movie in 1983 and has since become a cult classic after initial criticisms.
Game of the Year: Legendary
Legendary was released in 2008 and was developed by Spark Unlimited. Despite receiving negative and mixed reviews upon its release, I rather enjoyed this video game and was drawn to it because of its premise. The content being the opportunity to face off against hordes of mythical creatures that have inhabited mankind’s historical stories or myths for countless years. As a thief named Deckard, players can battle against werewolves, Griffins and a Minotaur or two once Pandora’s Box is opened at the beginning of the game. Alongside a well-supplied arsenal, the player can also fight against evil creatures with supernatural powers that had been bestowed upon Deckard by Pandora’s Box.
Film of the Year: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Released in 2019, 6 years after the television show concluded, El Camino serves as the final chapter of the hit show that began in 2008. The film focuses on Jessie Pinkman after the events of the explosive finale, in which he notably wasn’t given much screen time, as he tries to form a new identity for himself. Despite a fairly slow opening, the movie really picks up and provides some memorable moments that will satisfy long-time fans of the series. It was also good to see the old cast in their iconic roles again as El Camino had many cameo appearances, mostly in flashback sequences, from Breaking Bad itself. The world of Breaking Bad is still kicking about in the form of the ‘Better Call Saul’ prequel which currently has 5 series under its belt and which is critically acclaimed much like the show it spun off from.
It would be fair to say that 2020 wasn’t quite the exciting start to the new decade that we were all hoping for. I have my fingers crossed that we will have a better year this time around. My next blog post will be in January 2021 with a suitable Write Wise themed update. I have plans to partake in the 10 year anniversary for Write Wise as the year unfolds such as entering the challenge with a special story that should be a nice reflection of the decade. Have a Happy New Year!
Quote of the Day
There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Merry Christmas 2020!
Greetings, Christmas Eve is here and I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Be sure to take it easy tomorrow and I hope you have a good day. It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a bit of a trying year so far so we would like a good time this festive season to make up for it. There is one blog update left for the year in which I go through my entertainment picks for the categories of television series, films, books and video games that I experienced in the last 12 months. I’m looking forward to hearing what you rate as your highlights for 2020 as well. As usual, this blog update will be posted on the 31st December as the year dwindles to an end.
Thanks for reading ‘The Bizarre World of Victor Victorious: An Unnecessary Sequel’ which capped off the writing challenge for this year. 2020 has been a good year for Write Wise with plenty of new entries being added to the site’s extensive collection and an unplanned but pleasant Halloween challenge which saw three authors step up to the challenge, delivering three great stories. While I’m being tight-lipped about my Write Wise entries for next year, I do have a plan for the 10 year anniversary celebration which I am keen to start writing. Readers can also expect the Imposter Series to return which I am very much looking forward to after having a lot of fun writing ‘Saoirse’. Have a good Christmas!
Quote of the Day
Well, come what may. Merry Christmas, Mr. Wayne.
The Boys From Brazil
Greetings, The Boys from Brazil is a 1976 novel by author Ira Levin who is also known for his earlier books such as ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Stepford Wives’. It was made into a movie that was released a few years later in 1978 which was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Schaffner directed iconic movies including Planet of the Apes and Papillion prior to adapting Levin’s novel. The film version stars renowned actor Lawrence Olivier as the protagonist, aging Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman, and Hollywood leading man Gregory Peck as the nefarious Doctor Josef Mengele who serves as the villain of the story.
The story begins in Brazil in the September of 1974. Barry Kohler, a young American journalist, is investigating a potential plot by former Nazis who had escaped to South America after the end of World War 2. Kohler had been assisting a now old Nazi hunter by the name of Ezra Lieberman who was a famed academic, specializing in Nazi war crimes. Ezra is determined to catch the infamous Mengele, a Third Reich physician known as the Angel of Death who performed lethal experimentation on prisoners during his time in Auschwitz, and bring him to justice. It is believed that Mengele is in South America and feared that he is concocting a plan that will see Nazi Germany rise from the ashes following its defeat at the hands of the Allied Powers. Unfortunately for Lieberman, the world has lost interest in hunting down Nazis and his funding is drying up as a result.
A group of German businessmen are attending a meeting in a Japanese restaurant and have booked themselves a private room. Kohler believes them to be members of ODESSA, an underground organization of former Nazis who escaped trail and imprisonment in Europe. Barry bribes one of the Japanese waitresses to hide a tape recorder in the room while the men are discussing business plans in solitude. After the meeting concludes, the waitress gives Kohler the tape recorder and he listens to it in his nearby apartment. Barry rings Lieberman and tells him he has uncovered a Nazi plot. He advises that six former SS officers are going to be sent out across the globe and are to kill 94 men, who share similar traits, on specific days. The victims are all civil servants and will die at the age of 65 but before Barry can explain why, he is murdered himself and the phone is hung up on Lieberman. Ezra initially believes the call to be a prank but as men fitting the description begin to die, he starts to take it seriously and tries to unravel the mystery that was given to him.
Prior to ‘the Boys from Brazil’, the only other book of Levin’s I had read was ‘The Stepford Wives’ which I had thoroughly enjoyed. Like ‘Stepford Wives’, I already knew a bit about the twists going into this book which is a big part of what the novel is relying on to entertain the reader or to hook them with. I still liked this book but the mystery wasn’t as impactful as it would have been before it had seeped into popular culture. What I find strange about this novel is that its antagonist was very much a real person and still alive at the time of its first release. Mengele would not die until February 1979 when he drowned after suffering from a stroke. I’d encourage you to give this novel a spin, especially if you enjoyed Levin’s other works.
Quote of the Day
Bond. James Bond.
The Quiz Part 12
Greetings, November is here once again and so is my annual quiz to test your general knowledge! As is always the case, the answers are below the questions and please remember to leave your score in your comments. Last year’s results were something of an upset as Aaron managed to pull off a win for the first time with a score of 7. Joh came in second position with 6 and Mark answered 4 out of ten questions correctly. Can Aaron hold on to his lead or will Joh take it from him? Will Mark bounce back from third place this time around? I am looking forward to see if there is another shake up in the results! Best of luck.
1. Which entertainer played conman Danny Ocean in the 1960 version of Oceans 11?
2. Who said this? – ‘You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’
3. What is the name of the German politician, nicknamed ‘the Iron Chancellor’, who unified the Germanic states into the nation of Germany in 1871?
4. Put these Dirty Harry films in the order they were released- A. Dirty Harry B. Sudden Impact C. The Dead Pool D. Magnum Force E. The Enforcer.
5. How many television series of Twin Peaks, not including the feature film ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’, are there as at November 2020?
6. Which American Intelligence Agency do agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully work for as they investigate paranormal cases in the ‘X-Files’ television show?
7. Name the characters.
8. Unscramble the letters to reveal an actor- FEFJ LOMDGLUB
9. Which French film plays a pivotal role in Joh’s Write Wise entry ‘What are you doing on Halloween night?’
10. Which famed leader in the Sid Meier’s Civilization game series is known to favour using nuclear weapons after a glitch in the first Civilization game made this leader more antagonistic in the nuclear age?
1. Frank Sinatra
2. Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent
3. Otto Von Bismarck
4. A. Dirty Harry D. Magnum Force E. The Enforcer B. Sudden Impact C. The Dead Pool
5. 3 series
6. FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigations
7. Jango Fett and Boba Fett
8. Jeff Goldblum
9. Eyes Without a Face/ Les Yeux sans visage
10. Mahatma Gandhi
Quote of the Day
You like Huey Lewis and the News?
Greetings, Legendary is a 2008 first person shooter video game from the now defunct developer Spark Unlimited. Spark Unlimited has a brief list of games under their belt that they developed during their run which includes titles such as Call of Duty: Finest Hour, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Lost Planet 3. The cast has no particularly big names behind it and primarily consists of voice actors or actresses who usually provide their talents for more minor roles in games or other media. Fay Masterson, Enn Reitel and Lloyd Sherr star as the main group of characters while the protagonist, Deckard, is a silent lead. The composition of the music is credited to Ricardo Hernandez and Jack Grillo who contributed to the sound of several games including 2013’s Tomb Raider.
The plot is fairly simple and begins with the discovery of a mystifying box that was located at the bottom of the ocean. The box is retrieved and the archaeologists who discovered it place it in a New York museum for preservation. Deckard, a professional thief, is hired by a wealthy individual known as LeFey and is promised a considerable fortune if he breaks into the museum and retrieves whatever is inside the box. Once in view of the box, he breaks it open and in doing so it brands a signet on to his hand while a powerful explosion of energy is unleashed. A confused Deckard stumbles out of the museum and as he sees that mythological Griffins are causing chaos in the city, he comes to the realization that he has opened up the literal Pandora’s Box.
The incident, which has an effect worldwide, causes unwanted attention to follow Deckard and he is quickly located and recruited by a shadowy organization known as the Council of 98 who want to find and hide the box again like they had done so before. The Council believe that the signet on Deckard’s arm endued him with powerful abilities that would give him a fighting chance against the monsters that now roamed the earth. Deckard, with his mysterious allies and new found mystic powers, must fight back against a horde of legendary beings and LeFey’s personal army known as the Black Order, who have their own designs in mind for the box, to safely secure Pandora’s Box once more.
This game received middling reviews when released and is more or less forgotten in gaming culture today. Despite being repetitive, having little in the way of memorable characters and a generic plot, I did have a good time playing it overall. One of the main draws for me was the various mythological beasts from many different cultures that the player has to counter and, going by its own title, this was one of the big selling points that it had. This roster of supernatural enemies includes the more usual suspects of Werewolves and a Minotaur but it did also include creatures less well featured in popular culture such as Tsuchigumo’s Children, Nari and Fire Drakes. The enemies do of course begin to cycle round and repeat towards the end of the game, which becomes a bit samey, but that is to be expected with most gaming experiences. While I did enjoy Legendary, mostly because of my personal interest in monstrous creatures, I do believe that most gamers would find it a mediocre title to play through. With that being said, you could have some fun with this one if you could pick it up cheaply somewhere.
Quote of the Day
The Addams Family
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Greetings, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a 2018 film and serves as the second Star Wars anthology movie after Rogue One was released to cinemas in 2016. The movie is credited as being directed by Ron Howard after the backstage dramatics that led to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, best known for the Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, being fired. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic smuggler Han Solo in his early days, Joonas Suotamo as the legendary Wookie Chewbacca and Community’s Donald Glover as fan favourite Lando Calrissian. Suotamo, a former Finnish basketball player, had taken over the role from the original Chewbacca actor, the late Peter Mayhew, for ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.
Solo also introduces new characters and actors such as Qi’ra played by Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame, Tobias Beckett as portrayed by Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton as Val, Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37 and Paul Bettany as the villainous Dryden Vos. The score was composed by John Powell who has orchestrated music for a number of films including Chicken Run, Shrek, Rat Race, Mr and Mrs Smith and the Kung Fu Panda series.
The plot begins on Han’s home planet of Corellia, a grim and desolate world in which Han and his romantic partner named Qi’ra hope to escape from. Han obtains stolen starship fuel, which is called coaxium, and plans to use the valuable resource to bribe his and Qi’ra’s way out of Corellia. After being chased by the criminal syndicate of crime boss Lady Proxima, who wants the starship fuel for herself, Han and Qi’ra manage to momentarily elude her forces. Han successfully bribes an Imperial Officer of the Galactic Empire at a space sport to provide transport for both him and Qi’ra but only he manages to get to safety as Qi’ra was captured by the gang. A dejected Han promises to come back to rescue Qi’ra one day with a ship of his own and, in an impulsive act, enlists himself in the Imperial Navy. During the registration, the orphaned Han is given the surname ‘Solo’ by an Imperial Officer as he has no family ties of his own.
Three years pass and Han Solo is serving as an infantryman on Mimban during a heated battle. As he fights on the front lines, he discovers a plot by smugglers who are disguising themselves as soldiers of the Empire to hijack an Imperial ship. Han tries to join the group, led by Tobias Beckett, as a way out of military service but when he isn’t welcomed in he tries to force his way inside by blackmailing Beckett. This backfires and Beckett convinces some Imperial soldiers that Han is a deserter. This results in Han being thrown into a pit to be eaten by a monster. That monster is none other than Chewbacca, who has been chained to the pit and immediately attacks Han. After a brief fight, Han convinces Chewie that he can get them both out of the pit by breaking down the infrastructure that kept them trapped inside. They manage to escape and Beckett, impressed by their prison break, allows them to join his team as they take off with the stolen Imperial ship for a heist.
Solo, due in part to its numerous reshoots, is one of the most expensive films ever made. It is also the first Star Wars movie to bomb at the box office. While its failure to gain crowds was blamed on a fatigued audience who had grown weary of three Star Wars films across three consecutive years, I believe that it suffered more from other factors. One of these was the concept of the origin story itself which would undoubtedly remove the mystique around Han’s character and his shadowy criminal background. It was also difficult for some fans to accept the recasting of such a beloved character as Solo, arguably Harrison Ford’s most notable character and certainly the role that brought him to stardom.
The main problem, in my opinion, is that it had the unenviable task of following the Last Jedi. A film that has seemingly destroyed the Star Wars fandom to a devastating degree and ruined Disney’s plans to make countless new movies for this one time juggernaut of a property. Solo is better than the Last Jedi and the as of then unreleased Rise of Skywalker but it ultimately feels unnecessary and most, but not all, of the new characters are either forgettable or annoying such as Waller Bridge’s L3-37. Lucasfilm is reportedly or at least rumoured to be in a disunited state as of now with power struggles occurring and warring factions battling it out within the company itself but there is some cause for hope for better projects in the future. The Mandalorian, a Space Western series for Disney Plus, is a recent addition to the Star Wars brand that I can say is one of the most captivating pieces of media that I have seen in years.
Quote of the Day
The Black Panther has been the protector of Wakanda for generations. A mantle passed from warrior to warrior. And now, because your friend murdered my father, I also wear the mantle of king. So I ask you, as both warrior and king... how long do you think you can keep your friend safe from me?
T’Challa/ The Black Panther
Captain America: Civil War