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JediXMan on: Ex Machina (film)

Ex Machina

"Isn't it strange to create something that hates you?"

I was going to see Chappie a few weeks ago, but I ended up not going because I read that the movie… didn’t quite deliver what I wanted.

So, instead, I saw Ex Machina. What did I think about it? Hm…

Just a fair notice: unlike previous reviews, I’m keeping the spoiler part separate. If you want to read that and my speculations, it will be in a spoiler tag near the bottom before the final rating. Enjoy.


Caleb, a skilled programmer, wins a contest to work with the esteemed programmer, eccentric genius, drunk, recluse, and creator of not-Google, Nathan, who lives in his high-tech lab far from the civilized world. Once there, Caleb learns that Nathan has created a robot – Ava – with true artificial intelligence. Caleb’s purpose is to test the robot in order to determine whether it truly passes the Turing Test. During the test, Caleb begins to question Nathan’s intentions and what Nathan has in store for his creation should she fail the test.

This is a movie with, essentially, four actors – only three of whom actually speak. With such a small cast, your attention will be drawn to the bad actors, which will bring the movie down. That said, the actors… they all did an amazing job. I have absolutely no complaints. Everyone played the characters that they were supposed to play superbly.

Nathan (Oscar Isaac) is extremely relaxed and seemingly open. The fact that he comes across as so genuine makes you seriously question the man’s motives. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) comes across as the intelligent, yet naïve individual that he is. Nathan and Caleb work well together; beneath the playfulness, the friendliness, and scientific discussions, there is always something dark under the surface. Ava (Alicia Vikander) managers to appear innocently… cold? I don’t know how else to describe her. But it works, and her acting is not stiff. She manages to be emotional and unemotional at the same time, with subtle facial movements during conversations.

The dance scene is. Critical. To. The. Plot.
The dance scene is. Critical. To. The. Plot.

I read that this is the director’s (Alex Garland) first time directing a film. In that case… bravo. This was marvelously directed. He also wrote this movie, and it shows: the pacing is great; there is tremendous tension with… nothing happening. Scenes involving nothing come across as incredibly tense, because you begin to sit and ponder like the protagonist. The flow of the movie feels great – there was never a moment when I felt bored, or that a scene was unnecessary; in fact, I feel that there will be some interesting deleted scenes on the DVD.

The movie clearly had a low budget, but that is not a bad thing. It utilizes space well; it makes use of the house / lab and the surrounding mountains. Also, despite the low budget, I really liked the CGI in this movie. Ava looked really good in most of the scenes. There were some… weird moments toward the end regarding the CGI, but still. It was nice.

I’m a sucker for philosophy and discussion of linguistic theory… so yeah… this movie pulled me in with that stuff. I like hearing about how language evolution works and the theories behind the relation between language and reality.

Spoilers are as follows. Skip past it to the rating.

First of all, one subtle thing I noticed is this: Ava isn’t emotional. Caleb tells himself that he is, he tells the audience that she is, and she makes us think that she is. But all of he jokes, all of her “emotions,” her flirtations… it’s all what Caleb wants to hear. She is a computer that has a goal – to leave – but doesn’t quite know true emotions. I thought that the actress did a wonderful job with this.

It sounds like a weird thing to say, but I am glad that Ava did not have sex with Caleb. It made all of the nudity seem sterile, and utterly human – not sexualized. Yes, Kyoko was sexualized, but that was the point: it was more a statement of how Nathan treated her than how Kyoko really was. It made the nude form a human thing rather than a sexual thing, and I thought that was good. That said, when Ava is taking flesh from the other robots to use as her skin… yeah… skin tones don’t match like that, and there was a clear height difference between Ava and the other robot. That kind of irked me.

There was one ending that I did not want, and if this had happened, the rating of this movie would have gone down: I did not want Ava and Caleb to walk off and live happily ever after.

I wanted one of these two endings:

  • Nathan is right that Ava was manipulating Caleb, Caleb accepts that he is right, and we watch as Ava is shut down without resistance from Caleb. Roll credits.
  • Nathan is right that Ava was manipulating Caleb, Ava betrays Caleb and Nathan, and leaves without them. This is what we got.

I was thrilled by this movie’s dark ending. Caleb, despite all of his rather decent intentions, was nothing more than a means for Ava’s escape.

This is… this is what I wanted. It’s more than I wanted, in fact. I expect great things from the director/writer and the actors in this film.

This gets a solid 9/10 from me.

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JediXMan on: Dark Souls 2

"Like a moth drawn to a flame, your wings will burn in anguish. Time, after time."

So, after playing and beating Dark Souls 2… I thought I should review it.

Also, I’m kind of revisiting my Dark Souls review, after replaying and getting better. I won’t do a total review, but I will be comparing the two games, and updating DS1’s rating.


You are the “bearer of the curse,” seeking to rid yourself of this horrid curse and prevent yourself from losing your mind entirely. To that end, you travel to the ruined kingdom of Drangleic to cure yourself, and potentially become the “next monarch” of the realm.

That’s the main plot, but it’s not as simple as it looks. Dark Souls 1 and 2 are rich with lore, from dialogue to item descriptions. You want lore? Figure it out!

First off, I apologize profusely. I cannot apologize enough for what I said in my original DS1 review:

“Wait... what spoilers? There aren’t spoilers. There’s hardly much story.

Here’s the deal: you’re some adventurer (knight, thief, priest, etc.) who gets killed, ending up in the Undead Asylum. A giant bird chooses you to be “the one” to free the land from this dark undead force.

I know there’s more, so don’t all jump on me. But the game doesn’t tend to strive for much story. Is that bad? I don’t know.”

… I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I was wrong. This game has a fantastic story with amazing depth – it just isn’t spoon fed to you. It requires effort to discover the lore for yourself, and to sift through the lies to discover the truth. The game drips with overwhelming atmosphere and a sense of dreadful hopelessness. This is the kind of story I love. I absolutely love stories that don’t constantly recap the viewer/reader/player, stories in which there are deep plot threads that require prior knowledge, and stories which require that you just pay intense attention to fine details. It’s the fine details that this game excels in delivering. The fine details ­are the story, and that’s fantastic. I have come away looking at this series as a masterpiece for viewing from the perspective of analyzing it for hidden value regarding subtle storytelling.

With that out of the way, regarding Dark Souls 2.

First of all, the gameplay – in my opinion – is improved. Everything feels a bit smoother. Also, I played both games on PS3 and PC. DS2 is a better port of the game, and it doesn’t suffer from as many glitches brought on by a higher frame rate. The HUD in DS2 is far less claustrophobic, which is aided by a slightly better camera. Despite being a decent PC port, I recommend playing with a controller rather than the mouse/keyboard layout.

Ah, Majula - nice, friendly, sunny Majula...
Ah, Majula - nice, friendly, sunny Majula...

At first, I did not like the idea that I could teleport between bonfires with ease. However, I came to like it. It didn’t make it “easier” or “more casual,” but it did make it feel like it was more fun to do. That said, the same sense of Metroidvania is not quite the same. I never have that feeling of isolation when I’m deep in the world, when cozy Majula is just one jump away. That isolation feeling that I got from DS1 added to the atmosphere, which isn’t there anymore. I’m… torn. Part of me likes the teleporting, and part of me does not. That said, I do think that there are too many bonfires, and it could have been trimmed down. Remove one bonfire from almost every area, and it might be a bit better. That’s just my opinion.

I remember, in my ignorance, stating that I did not like PvP in these games. Yeah, that’s changed, too. However, DS2 does have much better multiplayer. Invasions are easier, and there is far more incentive to help one another with summoning with the promise that it will restore humanity. I love the multiplayer aspects, and I certainly like PvP *polishes Brotherhood of Blood medallion*

The environments are still gorgeous, but not quite as awe-inspiring as the areas in DS1. Some are, yes, but some locations feel like the same areas re-done again, rather than striving for something new. I absolutely love medieval locations, but it might be nice to show the occasional Asian-inspired location; just something slightly different. While we’re talking about locations: the areas don’t make a whole lot of sense. The worst is, probably, the awful layout for the connections between Earthen Peak and the Iron Keep. Earthen Peak is a giant windmill, and the Iron Keep is a volcanic foundry. How do you get there? An elevator… that goes up… from the top of the windmill. Yeah, that makes sense. A little more thought might have fixed things like this.

The Souls games have fantastic soundtracks. While the music is still good, it’s not nearly as good as the scores from DS1. One of the best pieces of music in this game is an homage track from the Gargoyle boss fight in DS1. That, and the music from the Ruin Sentinels, are my favorite tracks from DS2.

Another failing of this game is the atmosphere. While it’s still good, I did not really regain that awe-inspired feeling that I had from DS1. In that game, simply seeing Anor Londo – the home of the ancient lords – was amazing. I still loved the environments in this game, but I never had that feeling, or the feeling of sadness from striking down certain enemies *looks over at the Great Grey Wolf Sif*. I never felt sorry for the enemies that I faced in this game; I never felt a sense of remorse or reverence; respect for this old and dead world.

An Undead... being controlled... by a spider...
An Undead... being controlled... by a spider...

Many of the boss fights are copies of bosses from the previous game: the Royal Authority fights like Sif, Scorpioness Najka is similar to Quelaag, the Gargoyles are… the Gargoyles but it’s a bit harder, etc. The average enemy is usually just… bland, except for encounters with large knights, they are all simplistic. I was extremely disappointed that the awesome masked enemies from the DS2 trailer were removed from the game – what a shame. Though I will say that the puppeted undead in Tseldora are awesome.

DS2 feels too similar to DS1 in many respects, from boss design to environment. Despite that, it makes vast improvements on gameplay and the multiplayer. I can’t decide which is more important to me, and so, I’m going to state that both games receive the same rating from me.

Both games receive a 9/10. Dark Souls 2, in particular, is my GOTY for 2014. No, that does not mean that I’m necessarily doing a top 10 list.

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JediXMan on: Beyond: Two Souls - The Movie!

"I was born with a strange gift, or what they called a gift. It was really a curse."

Ah... Yeah. I'll freely admit that I have not played this game, nor do I intend to for a few reasons, which I'll eventually address. But I was extremely curious regarding the storyline; I like Ellen Page and Willem DaFoe, so that was a nice bonus.

So, what did I do? I went to YouTube and watched a complete playthrough with no commentary, so I could experience the story in its entirety.

... And so here we are.


Obviously, this review will be about the story and... Well, little else.

The story revolves around Jodie Holmes, a girl who has become isolated by her abilities. She has a spirit entity, named Aiden, who follows her around. He helps her and protects her, but at the same time interferes with her activates, preventing her from living, even if she wanted to.

Her whole life, she lived on military base. This base is a relatively small research facility dedicated to paranormal research, specifically research into the Infraworld, the place Aiden is from and where ghosts reside. Eventually, the CIA see that Jodie is the real thing, and they want her for themselves. Regardless of all the people who want to study and potentially use her, all Jodie wants is a normal life.

I... Ah... I don't know where to begin.

The concept is good. I really like the idea. Aiden is cool, Jodie is interesting and sympathetic, and the story is intriguing... At least in the beginning. A girl with a ghost-like friend who helps and hinders her? Some powers ripped right from the Sixth Sense? A desire for a normal life?

Screw that. It's time for the ELLEN PAGE VARIETY HOUR(s)!

That's right! You see, Jodie is a quiet, misunderstood girl by day. But at night, she goes into her wardrobe of a thousand faces, and we get the many faces of Ellen Page!

  • Goth Page!
  • Carrie Page!
  • Hobo Page!
  • Renegade Page!
  • Rancher Page!
  • Secret Agent Page!
  • Commando Page!
  • Deep-sea Diver Page!

Ah.. Ah ha... Yeah. Look, I do like Ellen Page, and she does a good job... As Jodie. But I truly see no reason for the majority of these scenarios. They shoehorned these things into a story that is, at its heart, about a girl who wants a normal life - right, because being a commando is normal.

Not buying it.
Not buying it.

I understand that peopledowant to use her because of her connection to spirits, but come on. Why would the CIA take somebody with unique abilities and put them into a mission that they don't need superpowers to accomplish? Any commando could just assassinate somebody, but why Jodie? And I'm sorry, but I can't take 5' 1", 90 lb Jodie seriously as a black ops soldier taking on armies of mercenaries in Africa during Uncharted-like fight scenes. Sorry, can't do it. Not saying women can't do it, or Ellen Page couldn't. But she really isn't conditioned for this, and she doesn't look like she is conditioned for it.

The story feels like it is made up of rejected script ideas that people attempted to glue together. Each, on their own, has some potential to be interesting - on their own. But not together, and not all involving the same person. It's like taking that kid from the Sixth Sense and saying, "Go kill Osama Bin Laden for us!"

... Really?

And while we're talking about the plot, let's talk about the presentation. Sometimes, I like this style of storytelling: It starts with a taste of the end, and goes back to tell you the rest of the story.

Why are you jumping? Not going to tell me? Okay...
Why are you jumping? Not going to tell me? Okay...

But... But here's the problem: it doesn't know when to stop. For more than half the game, we see Jodie depressed and feeling hopeless because the government wants to kill her. Why? Don't know. I would have loved to know during all of these emotional scenes, but nope. You don't get to find out until the end of the second act. So essentially... I have no reason to care. It's like trying desperately to help a total stranger feel better, when that total stranger refuses to tell you the problem, and you don't have much emotional investment, other than the fact that you're sad at seeing a sad person.

When there are sad moments, like when she has to leave the facility and those who were her only family behind, they... They don't work. The moment was sad, yes. But then you have a flashback almost immediately afterward, removing that tension and sadness, because you never got the time to miss them. When she's finally reunited... You just don't care.

But what about Jodie? Surely I should care about her. And yeah, I do. But she suffers from a good deal of Plot Induced Stupidity. And really, it's because of a misogynistic writer. I don't generally take those kinds of stances, but I am here.

Jodie is meant to be a badass. She was trained in the CIA, can take down guys twice her size, and fight off groups of people. And all this without the help of Aiden.

So what is her weakness? Why every girl's weakness, according to the writer: rape. That's right. When confronted by a man who intends to do her harm, she loses all of her training, and needs Aiden to save her from the man.

"But," says the person criticizing me, "she was tired and hungry! She was almost dead the previous night, so she's weak!"

I could buy that... If she didn't beat up a group of 4 guys by her self mere hours after the attempted rape - with no more food or sleep than she had during the rape attempt. So apparently, it's only when she's being threatened with rape is it a problem.

For the record, this isn't the first attempted rape for Jodie. During her Goth-phase. She's almost raped by a group of guys. Now, the argument is that this is pre-CIA. Well, yes, it is. And I wasn't necessarily upset by this scene: it showed how naive she was, and it showed just how desperate she was. But when there's a second rape scene and she still doesn't fight back, now it's not about the character: it's the writer's view on the world.

She also suffers from some inconsistent morals. During her time in the CIA, she gets upset that she kills a man who, apparently, was innocent (well, technically she has Aiden do it… so…). That’s fine, I get that. What I don’t get is that she vomits at the sight of the dead man, before she even finds out the truth about him. In this chapter, she just finished killing dozens of soldiers with no problem, but now she has a moral dilemma.

"I'll kill everyone!" screams the pacifist!

After she finds out about the innocent man, she goes on the run. So what does she do? She kills soldiers trying to capture her. … Wow… That… that makes no sense. I understand killing the main guy trying to hunt you, but the majority of soldiers are innocent people, too. You can’t just pick and choose when killing is wrong when it suits you (though I suppose the writer can). Essentially, the writer is saying this: “The military is wrong for killing people. So let’s kill the people who are only following orders! It’s only okay to kill people when you’re not working for the government.”

Really strange view of the world you have there, David Cage (the writer and director).

The other characters are interesting and, mostly, likeable. But they all essentially default to cliché roles, especially: father figure, father figure, and father figure. Norman is a father figure; Paul of the Navajo is a father figure; Ryan, initially, comes off as a father figure. Or perhaps "father figure" is the wrong word; general "authority figure" works well, too

As with the ever-changing costumes, we get ever-changing scenery. We get to go to a scientific facility, the suburbs, the desert with a Navajo family, a city during winter time, forests, trains, a war torn city, a war-torn city in the winter, and a secret underwater military base operated by the Chinese mili...


Back up. Back up now. Let's... Let's read that together now: a secret underwater military base operated by the Chinese military, where they are trying to research the Infraworld.

... Jodie's piloting a submarine?!
... Jodie's piloting a submarine?!

... I'm sorry, I thought I was meant to take this game seriously. I didn't know this was essentially GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. I didn't know the villains had a military base accessed only by a submarine. Okay, good to know. I now have absolutely no reason to take this game seriously any longer. This isn't a drama; this isn't a thriller; this isn't even a movie about spies or special ops work. This is a straight action movie. That's it. The Uncharted analogy stands perfectly. But whereas that game was fun, had likeable characters, and never had any pretense of being a pretentious piece of art, this game has no excuse whatsoever. Great.

I'll drift away from the plot for a moment, because if I don't, I'm going to get more upset:

The graphics are beautiful. With this and the Last of Us finishing this generation, it's just a nice way to show that the previous gen is still capable of competing with the Next Gen, and that the Next Gen has the potential to be all the more amazing.

Music is kinda good... Well... Sorta. It kinda repeats the same song over and over again, and it's not great. Not bad, but repetitive. Meh.

The acting is quite good. Everyone plays their parts well, even if I don't always like the parts that they play.

My reason for not playing this is... Well, frankly, the gameplay looks dull. It's basically an interactive movie. I like a little choice in my game, or at least the ability to do stuff. In this, there is no illusion of choice. If you fail, the game moves on. There's little to no punishment if you fail in this game. It doesn't reload; it just continues with that scenario. And while that might be potentially interesting in a game with choice, this game has no choice that in any way affects your interaction on the characters later in the game.

It's a movie, nothing more. So it's not fair for me rate it on the basis of gameplay. I will only rate this based on the narrative, the acting, graphics, etc.

While I appreciate what this game is trying to do as far as a deep narrative is concerned, Quantic Dream is not the company that I will ever look to for that. I will continue to look to Naughty Dog and Telltale for my gaming story needs. Quantic Dream's designers deserve to work for better companies. They always produce amazing environments and character models, but their writers and directors (*cough*David Cage*cough*) should never work on a video game again. I don't even think they can make a competent movie.

I give this game a 5 / 10. It got away from a 4 purely because of the graphics.

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JediXMan on: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

"He is the Chosen One. He will bring balance."

Ah heh heh heh...


... ah... yeah.

Again, I assume you...

I’m going to stop saying that. You’ve seen them all; end of story. If not, you should have. Not reminding you again.

Now, the biggest, most important part of this movie is… Anakin Skywalker. This is meant to be his origin story. And it… yeah. It fell flat on that end. Despite how awesome the above image is, he was just a side character that we didn’t really care about. He’s just a poor kid on a backwater planet that nobody likes. Considering he contributes so little to the plot, I’m going to talk about Anakin in future reviews. So let’s talk about the important stuff: battle droids and Naboo and that crap.

I’ll go with the outright good, the outright bad, and the... other things that we’ll discuss later.

The good:


I thoroughly enjoyed seeing young Obi-Wan Kenobi, and this was one of my two favorite aspects of the movie. Now I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, but for me, the character of Qui-Gon took time away from Obi-Wan. I wanted to see more of him... and he essentially just sat in the shuttle for half the movie (Tatooine = half the freakin’ movie). Think about it: if the movie focused on Obi-Wan and had Anakin as sort of a side character (which he already was), wouldn’t the movie have been leagues more interesting? Hm?s

Palpatine’s grab for power. A lot of people think this is boring, but the fact that we see so little of Palpatine (actual Palpatine, not Sidious) makes him more interesting to me. I liked seeing “nice,” “compassionate,” “humble” Senator Palpatine working. Granted, the man *ahem*Lucas*ahem* wasn’t quite intelligent enough to show a good political scene, but still, it was good (shout out to Luceno for Plagueis! Plagueis: making me not dislike TPM since January 2012).

They shouldn’t have shown Sidious appear to the Trade Federation at all. If I were working on this movie, I wouldn’t show the Sith Darth Sidious at all or even really hint at him: I’d just leave the ominous message: “which one was killed? The master or the apprentice?” Leave it at that. So much better. Don’t show Sidious until...

Ugh. I’ll wait until I review the next movie...

And of course, the lightsaber choreography is superb.

... the bad:

All. Tatooine. Scenes.

Every character says how much this place sucks... WHY ARE WE HERE, LUCAS?!?!
Every character says how much this place sucks... WHY ARE WE HERE, LUCAS?!?!

If I do watch this on TV or even DVD, I change the channel or skip these scenes entirely. It’s just. So. BORING. I can’t take it. The pod racing scene is unnecessarily long and, overall, meaningless. Think about this: we have a planet that has been invaded, you’re looking to get to Coruscant, and you... partake in a podrace. I realize that they wanted to win Anakin, but still. There are much better ways to go about this.

In general, the attack on Naboo seemed very… weird. I don’t know how else to explain it. I liked how Darth Plagueis (can’t stop hyping that book enough) showed the invasion and explained why, but the fact that you needed another book that came out twenty-three years later just shows how inept the creative team *cough*Lucas*cough* was on the movie.

The... middle ground:

Darth Maul: wasted potential here. Well let me clarify: I’m more a fan of Ray Park than I am Darth Maul. I always did and still consider Maul to be... boring. I like villains with a little depth or something to grasp onto. That’s always why I liked Palpatine: restrained power. He rarely unleashes his full power while sitting behind the scenes manipulating everything like puppets. Then when you do see him just cut loose, it’s all the more awesome.

I don’t think the Battle Droids were completely terrible. Like Maul, they were wasted potential. Look, I’m all for a little humor, but war machines should be a bit intimidating (granted: the Battle Droids in TPM have a bigger on-screen kill count in the final battle than the Stormtroopers did throughout the OT. Just throwing that out there).

The CGI:

Please note: I said CGI. Computer Generated Imagery. Can’t go around saying Special Effects anymore... shame.

Lightsabers look good. Really, really good.


And now, acting:

Of course Ewan McGregor did a good job. Of course Liam Neeson did a good job. Of course Ian McDermid did a good job. Is this really a surprise to anybody?

For Natalie Portman: I thought she was... okay. I mean, really, she was essentially nobody before this movie. I’m giving her slack. She tried.

The kid who played Anakin (too lazy to look up his name)... sorry, but... yeah. No.

Overall, I feel like TPM was unnecessary. That’s the best way I have to describe it: it’s like that episode in a TV show that is absolutely nothing special and doesn’t really add to the plot; it’s filler. I’m breaking my rule about referencing the other movies, but they should have split Episode III to make two equally long movies. I’ll get into that more later, when I review Sith.

Did I leave anything out? Dear, I hope not. I’m usually so thorough...

... hm.

Anyway, I give this movie a....

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JediXMan on: The Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

"I am a Jedi, like my father before me."

The final movie in the original Star Wars trilogy.


No summary. Read on.

Like Empire, this movie was not directed by Lucas, and it was only partially written by him… explains why I like it. No, I won’t stop slamming Lucas. Get used to it – you’ll be seeing a lot more later. As such, the storyline remains rather good. Does it have issues? eh… well, let’s see.

All grown up
All grown up

This is the finale to the Star Wars movie saga, no matter how you look at it. It’s the end of the prophecy of the Chosen One, showing Anakin’s redemption by his son. The story comes full circle, and all of the characters have grown.

It actually really shows, too. All of the actors are visibly older, and that is a good thing. They all look more mature, having fought for 4 years to get to this point. Luke doesn’t look like the child he was. Leia and Han look mature, as well. Han is less the old-school action hero / scoundrel, and now conveys the maturity that comes with his character’s growth. Leia is less of a princess and more of a soldier for the Rebellion; while it does occur in the EU and not in RotJ, it’s worth mentioning that she becomes a senator, as well.

One of this movie’s greatest moments is in the beginning: Luke showing up in Jabba’s palace, cloaked in a Jedi robe, walking calming into darkness to save his friends. He has evolved since the farm boy: he’s no longer a child. He’s grown up into the man his father could not become.

I want to convey how powerful that moment is: the Jedi are dead. Obi-Wan was killed in Episode IV, and the wise Master Yoda is in hiding. The Empire rules. But now we have Luke, the first Jedi of a new era. The fact that he uses mind trick means a lot. It’s a trick that his master, Obi-Wan, utilized. Now Luke is using it. He even wields a lightsaber color not previously shown in the series. Obi-Wan used blue, Anakin used blue. Now here is Luke, part of the new Jedi Order.

In order to bring about the actual return of the Jedi, he must defeat the Empire and redeem his father. Luke even has more incentive to stop this war: his sister, Leia. Leia is revealed to be his unknown sister, who he is willing to protect at any cost. This is a better end than the cliché “lover” scenario. That was cliché; this scenario is preferable.

Yoda never did that!
Yoda never did that!

Now we have Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader’s shadowy master and the ruler of the Galactic Empire. He appears as a simple old man… just like Yoda. But his true power is hidden, and that is truly shown when he actually gives a display of his power: a new technique never before seen – Sith Lightning! Another awesome moment!

But even the mighty Emperor meets his end (… for now) at the hands of his apprentice, Darth Vader, who sacrifices himself to save his son. After decades of darkness, Anakin Skywalker has returned. He dies in his son’s arms, and is finally redeemed as he stands with Yoda and Obi-Wan as ghosts in the afterlife.

I can’t stress how amazing the execution is. Every scene involving Luke, especially Luke and Vader, is very well done. Acting, music, atmosphere, the story… just perfect. This is why I like the OT: because it leads to this.

The acting in this movie, for the most part, was perfect. Everyone did their jobs and displayed the necessary emotion that the scenes required.

I feel like, with each movie, the choreography gets increasingly better. The duel between Luke and Vader was not only well done, but displayed a lot of emotion. Luke was hesitant; he showed restraint until he was finally pushed far enough, and even in that moment he showed remorse. Again, right back to acting the tone setting,

Fine, the poor aspects:

Ewoks. Yes, fine, they suck. We can all agree that they suck. “Har har, teddy bears! Str Was scks cuz' teddy bears!” Yeah, fine, let's get past that. Yes, they’re annoying and pointless; yes, the fact that they beat Stormtroopers is stupid… but I’m letting that go, for the sole reason that I like everything el…

The Death Star… II. Eh… I realize what they were trying to do with this: amping up the stakes and all that. It just felt gimmicky and unnecessary. The space fight wasn’t that great; the only cool part was the idea of seeing so many capital ships on the screen, but even then, we had the terrible destruction of the Executor… which made absolutely no sense. But the rest was…

Jabba’s Palace… yeah… a Muppets reunion in a Star Wars movie. Yeah, it sucks. Whole thing. The only good part was the moment with Luke, and even those fight scenes sucked. But at least Boba Fett was coo…

Fett’s death. I…

Fine, yes, RotJ had a lot of bad moments. But they’re mostly from a taste point of view, not a technical point of view. The story is fine; I absolutely love the character development. That’s why RotJ is not only my favorite movie in the OT, but my favorite Star Wars movie overall. The story is well executed, well acted, and overall, the good points outweighed the bad. The bad I can always blame on Lucas.

No Caption Provided


JediXMan on: Man of Steel

Man of Steel

"He was convinced that the world wasn't ready. What do you think?"

The Man of Steel – better known as DC’s last hope for future movies.


You know the story: Krypton blows up, yada yada. So I won’t really be summarizing the plot today…

But did you know that Jor-El was killed by Zod?!

Yeah, neither did I. This movie decided to take a few liberties in regard to Superman’s origin story. Were they good changes? Let’s see.

So Krypton is a society where every person is selected, from birth, to fulfill a specific purpose in life, and that is it. Jor-El is a bred scientist, Zod is a bred warrior. People are born in a Matrix-like bubble suspended in water tanks, rather than natural birth. But Jor-El has his child in secret, making Kal-El the first natural born child in centuries. When Zod stages a coupe in order to take over the government to force a new age of conquest for Krypton, Jor-El runs away, stealing the genetic Codex to prevent Zod from rebuilding Krypton. He sends the Codex with Kal-El in the ship. Jor-El is killed when Zod tries to prevent the ship’s launch. Zod is then sentenced to the Phantom Zone by the council for treason just before the planet’s destruction.

Kal-El is, of course, found by the Kents, and now he has to find his way in the world.

I think the story was told well. I liked the small tweaks to the plot. It seemed that the origin story took some keys from Nolan’s Batman Begins. Now this movie does not, in any way, feel like Batman Begins. But the structure was similar, regarding how they showed most of his childhood in flashbacks. It’s a nice method that can work, especially in comic book movies, and it worked here.

Come at me
Come at me

The fight scenes were amazing. I think I enjoyed the fights in this more than any other comic movie. Why? Because they were accurate to the comics. Superman does have these kinds of fights. They did a good job with these. Wanted to get that out of the way now. Also: the Colonel is badass. He stared (the awesome) Faora in the eye and prepared to fight her with a knife, knowing full well how powerful she was. He deserves respect.

There are some complaints people have had, and I will get to them. But first, my complaints:

The Scout Ship. I actually didn’t have a problem with the ship… at first. I thought it was a good way to set up the Fortress of Solitude in the story (because the crystal thing was stupid). That said… why does it have the El attire in there? I understand why Jor-El’s AI was in there, but why the suit? That scout ship was ancient, and it would never have even had contact with Jor-El. That doesn’t make any sense.

Jor-El vs Zod: Yes, these two fight. Not just fight, but Jor-El gains the upper hand… until Zod takes a cheap shot and stabs Jor-El. For the rest of the movie, Zod sports the scar that Jor-El gave him. Here’s my problem: Jor-El is a scientist, Zod is a warrior. Not just that, but on Krypton, they were each bred for that specific purpose. So why is Zod not physically superior simply based on overall physique and genetics? Well here are two arguments:

  • Jor-El was fighting for his son’s life. He was drawing on that energy that parents have when protecting their young. Eh, this doesn’t sit well with me. The fight just didn’t have that sort of tone; if it did, Jor-El would have been fighting more aggressively and more brutal than he was.
  • Jor-El was all about overcoming genetics and defied the status quo. This I agree with. The whole movie was about overcoming your own predestination, so if Jor-El did fight to overcome his genetic weaknesses and actually build himself up in order to be physically fit, I can believe it. This argument I agree with.
Jor-El in... battle armor? .... 'kay...
Jor-El in... battle armor? .... 'kay...

Admittedly, I felt like the early fight scenes were forced. It just felt... weird to see Jor-El "suit up" and take on Kryptonian soldiers. Yes, this is probably my biggest gripe...

Jonathan Kent’s death: I was okay with it. I liked how it was done. I actually liked how Jonathan died in this movie: he died trying to save people, and he died protecting Clark in his own way. What I like about this is that it means Kal-El had more inspiration for becoming a hero, not just because of Jor-El. His adopted father, Jonathan, played a big role. Good job.

Henry Cavill as Kal-El was a very good casting choice; his acting was believable, he looked like him, and he had the physique to fill the suit.

Michael Shannon portrayed a very good Zod. Oddly, I was rather worried about this casting. But he did a superb job in the end.

Amy Adams was… forgettable. I’m sorry, but I… just didn’t care about her much in this movie. I feel like Amy Adams as Lois Lane was the weakest one in the movie, though. She wasn’t terrible, and she definitely did better than what’s-her-face from Superman Returns, but I think they could have picked somebody better for the part.

Death in 5... 4... 3...
Death in 5... 4... 3...

I think I should probably cover the elephant in the room: Superman snapping Zod’s neck. I’m going to say two things about it:

  1. I was okay with it.
  2. Zod and all of his group were killed in Superman 2, yet nobody had a problem with that (yes, they are dead. Superman took their powers away and they went down a deep pit in the Fortress of Solitude. They. Are. DEAD).

Final verdict:

I was very happy with this movie. I left the theater pleased, and I remain pleased. I want to see Lex Luthor in future movies, played seriously. They should take notes from Luthor (and if you haven’t read Luthor, go read Luthor).

I give this movie…


No Caption Provided


JediXMan on: Blog Update

... seems I post more updates than actual blogs...

Hello again. I know it's been awhile, but I have admittedly been busy with some things, but I do intend to begin reviewing some movies and, possibly, video games. This is a list of my (potential) upcoming reviews:

  • Man of Steel - This has gone up on my priority list.
  • Iron Man 3 - I wasn't too enthusiastic, so if people don't want me to do it, I probably won't bother.
  • Hunger Games - See Iron Man 3, but with a lot less enthusiasm. Probably won't post this even if people tell me to.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us

As always, I want suggestions on what to review. Speak your mind!

I am also considering the idea of a Respect thread. I don't make them much, but I thought about it. I want to hear what people think of the idea. For this, I'm not taking suggestions, as Respect threads require some research and thought, so I won't do them if I don't care about the character.

That said, here:

  • Various Code Geass characters. Including, but not limited to, the likes of:
    • Lelouch vi Britannia
    • Suzaku Kururugi
    • Jeremiah Gottwald
  • Fantomex (yeah, yeah...)
  • The Null ARC Troopers (which I have put off for awhile)

So, speak your mind. Hopefully, I'll have a review out in the next few days.

- JediXMan


New Star Wars Games?

I want to make it clear that this is not a real blog. It's just a brief description of my opinion on the video at the end.

The idea of EA making some Star Wars games... mixed opinions. Sure, EA is probably the most hated publisher right now, but I think everyone can agree that the idea of them handling a Battlefront III is a pretty awesome idea. While I may have to wait for my Jedi Knight game, I could do with Battlefront III and, perhaps, Imperial Commando (and bring back Karen Traviss to write it! Seriously, Disney; do it!)

As always: as long as continuity is preserved and the Force Unleashed dies, I'm happy.

Here's the video. Tell me your thoughts!


JediXMan on - Metroid: Other M

Metroid: Other M:

Ridley?! RIDLEY?!?!
Ridley?! RIDLEY?!?!

A Metroid game! Fully voiced! We see Samus’ face – a lot! We get backstory!

What could possibly go wrong?! Huh? HUH?!

I apologize in advance for the… the length.


... subtle.
... subtle.

Samus recovers from her encounter with the Baby Metroid from the previous game (previous being in the timeline, not by order of release. “Previous” here means Super Metroid). She’s going through some sort of postpartum depression – at least that’s what it comes across as – when she hears a “Baby’s Cry,” a distress signal that makes it seem more… important than other distress signals? I don’t know. Anyway, the Baby’s Cry is coming from what’s called a “Bottle Ship” (… because the mother overtones were too subtle).

On the Bottle Ship that’s flooded by monologue on Samus’ part, she comes across a squad of Federation soldiers led by Adam Malkovich, Samus Aran’s old commanding officer when she was in the Federation. He essentially treats her like crap, forbidding her the use of most of her weapons and abilities until he decides when she can use them. They go on a journey, discovering that the Bottle Ship run by Federation scientists have been cloning Metroids (because that always goes so well).

Little preview: my next and probably final (unless I feel differently) Metroid review will have some chronological details. Should give you a hint as to what game I’m reviewing. It’ll be my personal favorite Metroid Game.

My biggest gripe with the game is the story, so let me get gameplay, graphics, and voice acting out of the way:

Gameplay is… eh. It’s not Metroid to me. It tried to be a 3D version of Super Metroid, trying to encompass the action feel. But it didn’t do that. To me, 3D Super Metroid = Metroid Prime. It’s fast paced, but it makes the boss fights less tense, as well as all other fights. The puzzles are incredibly simple, and the bosses are easy to beat. Your gun essentially auto targets, meaning you’ll essentially just mash the attack button and dodge button.

Also, firing missiles? Yeah. Point the Wii remote at the screen. Easy, right? Well, you don’t use a nunchuk... no, you fight with a horizontal Wii remote. That means changing the position of your hands, and it leaves you vulnerable while the Wii decides when its time to register the change.

One thing that I liked was the inclusion of some melee combat, which I always felt was lacking in Metroid games.

Graphics are… meh. It’s the Wii, what should I expect? Well, it would be nice if the cinematics didn’t look almost exactly like gameplay.

Voice actors are okay, for the most part. Samus, however, is extremely dull. But, then, I guess – since most of the “dialogue” from her is a soliloquy, I guess it makes some sense. But even her dialogue is flat.

Alright. So, where do I begin?

I guess I’ll start with Samus’ relationship with Adam. Now I get she has some issues regarding him. She looked up to him when she was younger like a father, served in his command, was with him when Adam had to sacrifice his own brother, etc. But that was years ago. I understand the issues, but come on. Samus has been active for many years now. I also find it difficult that she was working for the Federation all this time and never once crossed paths with him.

The reason Samus has no upgrades in this game? Adam didn’t give her permission.

.... wow. Wow, I...

Okay. I like it when Metroid games explain why Samus doesn’t begin each game at near invincibl

Get to it.
Get to it.

e levels (the next game I’m reviewing has a good explanation... just saying...). But this is just stupid. Samus Aran always came off as a strong, silent woman (mostly silent. She did, admittedly, do a bit of internal dialogue in… oh, in an excellent game…). She would never let some guy order her not to use certain equipment, even if it’s equipment that would save her life. In the hot lava section, she is prevented from activating the Varia upgrade that would save her from taking heat damage.

That. Is. Stupid.

But Samus is still awesome, right? Maybe she just has some major respect / electra complex with Adam (Freud would have a field day with the “subtle” male euphemisms in this game), and she just can’t disobey. She’s still the badass hunter we all know, and she will stop at nothing to take down…


This, right here, I think sums up my entire problem with the game in just one scene, that wasn’t nearly short enough. Little summary: Samus is in this dark room with an unknown enemy. She turns the “lights on” (lava), and sees her enemy: Ridley. You guys know Ridley, right? Of course you do. If you’ve played a Metroid game, you’ve probably fought Ridley. So Samus stands there… terrified.


She’ll get over it, right? Get up; kick the crap out of Ridley…

Oh, grow up!
Oh, grow up!

Nope. She just stands there. Not just stands there, but begins to regress to her childhood, having flashbacks of when she found her dead parents.

She COWERS. Samus Aran, the most feared hunter in the galaxy who has killed countless enemies – INCLUDING RIDLEY AND SOME PLANETS – cowers in total, crippling fear.

What happens next? Well, Ridley grabs her and scrapes her on the wall. Then, her suit starts to fall apart. What, if Samus can’t will it, her suit falls apart? So Samus is about to be killed when a big strong man distracts Ridley long enough for Samus to grow a pair.

You guys really want a list? Fine.

  • Ridley has been defeated multiple times. This includes: Super Metroid, the Primes, the original game, and even in the lore in the Manga. She should not be scared anymore.
  • As previously said, she has killed Ridley. Therefore, she would have dealt with the “he killed my parents” thing years ago.
  • Samus’ suit doesn’t fall apart from fear. It falls apart when her life signs are gone. Now I’ve heard the argument that “she was wounded from Ridley’s attack!” True, but have two counter-arguments to that:
    • First, Samus’ suit magically comes back. It’s only gone when she is falling through the air, but miraculously reappears before she hits the ground. This shows that she was able to regain it; she couldn’t have done that if it was a matter of damage.
    • Second, she has full health when you fight Ridley. The counter to this is that it’s a gameplay/narrative conflict. However, in many games, when the character is weakened due to plot, gameplay illustrates this by slowing movement, lowering health, etc. So it’s a conflict that is easily avoided.
  • And now: Samus gets saved by a man. Not just any man, no: a big, 6’ 6” man with a giant over compensating gun (thought I was joking about Freud, didn’t you?). Samus has been helped by other hunters, like in Metroid Prime 3. But it always had the feel of “I could have done that myself, but thanks.” It never felt like you needed help. No, this guy has a serious “big protective brother” vibe going on, and Samus does not need a big brother. She’s a big girl who can, and has, taken care of herself just fine.
  • You don’t even kill Ridley. You beat him in one boss battle, but then he gets killed off screen by the real big boss of this game. This is disrespectful to both Samus and Ridley.

That, right there, is the absolute biggest problem with this game. I honestly couldn’t even fight Ridley at first; I paused just to wrap my head around what happened. It was just… my God.

I want to clear something up, if any of you were confused regarding the timeline (which I will elaborate on in my next Metroid review):

  1. This takes place weeks after Super Metroid, not years. In the beginning of the game, Samus is in a medbay from her injuries sustained during Super Metroid. So Samus just killed Ridley; it’s not as if he were dead for decades.
  2. Samus is not a child, nor is she a young adult anymore. She is a full grown, adult, woman. She is 30 years old. I’m not kidding, look it up. Samus was born in 2155, and this game takes place in 2180 AD. Yeah.
Notice the difference? Left doesn't have heels!
Notice the difference? Left doesn't have heels!

I should also bring up something that particularly annoyed me: Samus Aran wears heels. Not just a small boot heel, no; a full on heel. What nonsense is this? Oh, I see: she's a girl, and girls have to wear heels. It's a rule. Gotcha. Thanks, Team Ninja. Good job. You've captured the very essence of the character.

Next up (oh yes, there’s more): there’s a subplot that there is a traitor in the team of Federation soldiers killing off each soldier, eventually – supposedly – gunning for Adam himself. Wellllll here’s the thing: the game isn’t that clear who “the Deleter” (that’s his name) is behind the mask… even though he’s a boss at one point (driving a bulldozer… yup, a bulldozer is a boss, now). So yeah, sucks.

Plus, the characters killed by “the Deleter” have absolutely no character development, meaning that we don’t care when they die. Also, even if they revealed who the Deleter is, would it matter? We barely got to know any of the team other than Adam and “big brother.” So it could just be “soldier #5.” Who is soldier #5? Uh…

Right! “The twist.”

You... you didn't need to die... you... pft, whatever; good riddance.
You... you didn't need to die... you... pft, whatever; good riddance.

We see that the Federation was trying to clone Metroids, and have brought in a Metroid Queen. Adam sacrifices himself to detach the habitat pod so that Samus can survive and stop the station from crashing into HQ (… yup. The pod can only be detached and set to self-destruct from the inside. Smart thing to do in a pod housing extremely dangerous creatures).

Meh. Out of nowhere, but okay. The fight with the Metroid Queen is simple enough. But here’s my problem: you have no idea how to beat the final boss. It’s a secret. Know how secret? You have to use a power that you didn’t know you had. In the beginning of the game, you are shown how to use the Super Bomb. Adam, of course, forbids its use, so you can’t use it – UNTIL NOW. And the game just forgets to tell you that, and I’m just stuck not having a single clue what to do, until death #10 when it gives me a prompt to “hold down A” while in morph ball mode. Wow. Thanks again, Team Ninja!

Remember when I said that the station was going to crash and destroy the Federation HQ? Remember when Samus was supposed to save it? Yeah, no. It’s mysteriously stopped. Wanna know how? The protective big brother saves Samus yet again. Glad she has a big strong man to save her, because she obviously can’t take care of herself. Who does she think she is? The bane of the Space Pirates? The deadliest hunter in the galaxy? Yeah, right.

And now, MB.

MB is a scientist… who is a girl… who is a… robot… and a…

Y’know what? Don’t care to get into the mystery. It was stupid and annoying. Here’s the

An origin story... how hard would that be?
An origin story... how hard would that be?

deal: the same brain trust who decided to clone Metroids decided to bring back Mother Brain. Not only do they bring her back, but they put her in a humanoid body that has super strength and free will. WHY WOULD YOU…?

Never mind. I just… I can’t do this anymore. Time to close.

Now, I just want to say: all, or most, of these problems I have with the storyline could easily be fixed without being changed: make this game an origin story. Bam, done. Samus would cower when first fighting the monster that killed her parents; Samus would make some stupid mistakes; Samus would take orders from a superior officer. This is called character developments. In an origin game, Samus would be young – possibly a teenager, or maybe 20-ish. Showing how weak and inexperienced she was back then would just reinforce the badass we know she will grow up to be. That’s how you write the game. If this game was about Samus working under Adam in the Federation, and this took place before all of the other games, then the stupid crap would make more sense.

I hate the Force Unleashed 1 and 2. I hate Mass Effect 3. But this game? I think I felt this more insulting than those. That’s right: I think I hate this game more than those other games. I knew Force Unleashed 1 would suck, and I was… only mildly surprised that the second sunk to such an extraordinary level of sucking. Mass Effect 3 upset me, but I did not devote as much time to that franchise.

I am going to be completely honest right now: want to know why I was more reserved here than in my Force Unleashed II review? Because I felt a little good natured and had fun writing that review (just for the record: I meant every word in that review). This? No. I didn’t have fun reliving this horrid game. I hate this game for the same reason I hated the others, but I just… I felt more hurt playing this game. It hurt me. ME3 made me annoyed and pissed off at the story, but Shepard’s integrity was upheld. I couldn’t give a crap what they do to Starkiller, because he doesn’t matter to me. I have attachment to Samus Aran’s character, and they smacked her and me right in the face with this atrocity. She became a helpless damsel in distress with daddy issues, incapable of dealing with her problems without a big strong man by her side:

Adam had to rescue her from being killed due to his orders; Adam had to kill a Metroid before it attacked her; Adam had to destroy the Metroids. The big brother saved her from a monster earlier in the game (which later turned out to be Ridley); saved her again when Ridley was revealed; saved her AGAIN when the station was about to crash.

I… I just can’t.

I have been a fan of Metroid for years. I love the character of Samus Aran, I love the gameplay, and I love the lore. This game was a slap in the face to the fans, especially fans of my favorite Metroid game, which some of you might be able to guess. Thankfully, I can – for the moment – pretend this game doesn’t exist, and still enjoy my other Metroid games. And no, this game has not been touched once since I originally beat it.

Final verdict, and this is only because the gameplay was sometimes fun. That and I felt like giving it a 0 would come off like childish spite.

No Caption Provided

See ya next time.


JediXMan on - Violence in Video Games

The horror!
The horror!

... ugh... I can’t believe I’m...

Okay, fine. I’ll do this bullcrap. As somebody who began his reviews with reviews for video games, I suppose I have to do this now. I’ll hate myself in the morning. And for the record, I will not – will not – let this turn into a gun rights thread or anything of the sort. Clear? Good. Because I see that, and the good ol’ mod alarm will be sounded. So here we go.

I’m going to say from the get-go that I’ve played my share of “violent games.” Not because they were violent, but simply because I wanted to play them because the gameplay looked fun, or the story was interesting, etc. I should also clarify that some of my favorite video games are not violent in the least. Many of you know about my love for the game that got no love: Mirror’s Edge. Not only is it lacking in the blood department, but you get rewarded for not shooting a gun for the entire campaign. That’s right. And I called that the most unique game of this gaming generation, and it’s still among my all time favorite video games.

Here’s the bottom line:

It isn't hard to wrap your head around
It isn't hard to wrap your head around
  1. If you’re under 17, you shouldn’t be playing an M rated game unless your parents give the OK. And parents, it’s 100% your responsibility. The companies did their part by giving you a nice rating on the cover and information on the back. And really, in this modern age of the vast Internet, there’s no excuse for claiming ignorance to a game’s content. Kid wants a game for Christmas? Google it and see if it’s appropriate. For every game, there are hundreds of gameplay videos on YouTube, so you can get a solid idea on what’s in store.
  2. If you’re of the appropriate age, then no, you shouldn’t be restricted from playing as you please. I may hold my personal opinions on games, but I won’t sway you (unless you read my reviews, then, well, yeah, you probably care a little about what I have to say). I won’t say certain games should be banned.

Personal responsibility is featured in both: parents are responsible for their child’s well being and upbringing, and when they’re older a person is responsible for their own choices, good or ill. It’s also worth mentioning that children should know what the stark difference is between reality in fiction.

I admit that I don’t like games like GTA or anything like that, but that’s me. I don’t want to see them banned. In fact, there are very few things that I think should be banned. My opinion is that, if nobody was harmed in the production, then it’s okay. Drawings are drawings, whether they’re created by pencils, pens, computers, clay, whatever you fancy. But it’s all fake. Nobody was murdered or anything along those lines. Snuff films? Ban them. Child porn? Ban it. They’re sick and wrong on many levels. But video games? Even the more... extreme cases are still fantasy with no basis in reality, and their interaction with human beings begins with writers and ends with voice actors who not only see a paycheck, but are not in the least harmed; they view it as just another job. It’s freedom of choice for the consumers, freedom of expression for the creators.

In general, I’m against censorship unless the creation of the product is directly harmful to those involved in the creation. The title might be a bit misleading: this is less about video games than it is an article against censorship overall.


Let’s look at it from another angle: the can o’ worms scenario. Essentially, if the government can suddenly ban something because of a silly little thing like red pixels, then that opens the door to the ability to ban anything else. You might shake your heads, but that’s what can happen. The government could then ban any game that in the least besmirches the United States, or is “insulting” to a specific group of individuals. Just to go back to video games for a sec, I should bring up the irony that one of my favorite video games, Mirror’s Edge, is all about a government that oppresses its people with the veil that it “knows what’s good for you.”

Now, let’s broaden that a bit more: books. Movies. TV shows. Comics. If one media is censored and heavily regulated by the government, anything is up for grabs now. Fear, and especially not blind ignorance, should not consume a society. It all takes one wrong move to send things hurtling down a very, very slippery slope. People would be heavily restricted in what the government says is appropriate for a person to play, watch, do, and think.

Are you wiling to take that chance? Are you really willing to relinquish your personal liberties that easily?

There. That’s all I have to say.

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