TL;DR – This is a good foundation for a series that moves everything into place and hints at much more.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.
Foundation Review –
For a while now, I have been wondering just what would make me up and give Apple TV+ a go. Sure, I’ll probably watch Ted Lasso at some point and cry a lot, but I needed something to grab me. Well, I have made my position about Sci-Fi quite clear, and if you are going to hook me with something, adapting a series from one of the greats, well, that will do it. Isaac Asimov is up there with Arthur C Clarke, Ursula K Le Guin, Philip K Dick, Frank Herbert, Mary Shelly, and HG Wells and to see his masterwork brought to the screen, well count me in.
So to set the scene, we open in on the planet of Terminus, where on a promenade looking over the small colony is ‘the Vault’. It is a floating repository with a null field forcing you to turn away from it if you dare approach, as some local kids find out the hard way. 35-years earlier, we land on the planet of Synnax, a water world surrounded by rings. Here a young Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) is making a final trip from her planet. She is going to the centre of the galaxy, the home of Emperor Cleon (Lee Pace, Cassian Bilton & Terrence Mann), and where she will meet Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), the great man of mathematics and the founder of psychohistory. But little does Gaal know that the Empire’s peace is being tested and that she might just be arriving for her trial and execution. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – A DLC that is full of exciting ideas but also some missed opportunities and frustrations.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for this DLC
Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond Review –
Over the years, one of the games I come back to once in a while has been Surviving Mars. This is a strategy game/ city builder about constructing the first human colony on Mars with drones, domes, and danger, oh my. While it was full of promise, it hit its stride with the Green Planet DLC, allowing you to terraform Mars into an oasis gradually. For a long time, this looked like it would be the final stop for the game, but recently there was a surprise announcement of a new DLC Below and Beyond, which we will look at today.
The essential overview of this new DLC is that while exploring the surface of Mars, you have come across these vents under the surface. Here there are large tunnels, old lava tubes, so large that you could both explore and even colonise them. The one big drawback is that they are very dangerous as cave falls can crush rovers and cut off passageways. You can use technologies found in the new Recon and Expansion tech tree to make exploring safer. Still, if you want to colonise down below, you will need sturdier materials, which is good because it just so happens that several asteroids are coming close to Mars’ orbit with Exotic Minerals just perfect for the new task.
TL;DR – Here, we have a beautiful game with a lot of promise but is not quite there yet.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for this game.
Humankind Review –
One genre of Video Games just clicks with me more than others, like on a deep physiological level. That genre is the strategy game, well, more than that. It is the particular 4X genre of strategy game where you eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, & eXterminate, and if it is turn-based, even better. I can spend hundreds of hours exploring the mechanics of each game, hitting each of those four X’s. In the realm of the historical-empire-builder 4X world, there has been one crown, Civilization. Well, today, we take a look at a game that is coming for that title, and while it doesn’t quite get there, it does come close.
The first thing I want to mention is just how beautiful this game is. When you first jump into the game and see a river crashing over the cliffs into a valley full of lush jungle and red earth, Well, it will take your breath away. A lot of care has gone into everything feeling as if it is a natural part of this world. Part of what helps is a mountain of terrain features that make even areas that could be dull, like the frozen poles, still feel interesting to explore. I also like how they have introduced height to the game, making the world feel more grounded. You can see the legacy of Endless Legend throughout this game in the design of the terrain, but it has been tailored to be like Earth but stylized, and I think they get that balance right. To add to this, while watching this stunning game, you also get to hear a soundtrack that I have yet to get sick over these[redacted] hours that I have played, and I am listening to it now as I write this review. If I had to pick my favourite track from the game, it would be Mercury, but they are all great.
TL;DR – Today, I take a wander around Gladstone and its many surroundings.
Disclosure – I was not paid to visit any of the locations shown here, and all Queensland Government COVID requirements were followed, including the use of masks.
Exploring Gladstone –
In this Covid world, one of the hardest parts has been the isolation from friends and family, I know people have had it worse, but I have had to cancel family get-togethers five times because of surprise lockdowns. To the point that it has become a running joke with my friends every time there is a lockdown. Well, there was a moment of stability (not that there wasn’t a scare the week before that made me think it would all unravel again). So, when you have the chance, you take it, and with that came the exploration of the many faces of Gladstone.
From Brisbane, Gladstone is about a six to ten-hour drive depending on the time of day, whether you get stuck behind a caravan/boat that only gets up to speed in the overtaking lane, and how many stops you can make. For safety, you should be making stops to rest, and our first one was at the town of Tiaro. We stopped here because you can get a mean burger, but also because their butcher is known all up the highway for its bacon, which will become important later. It also has the oddness of having a pedestrian crossing over the main northern highway in Queensland, the Bruce.
After eight beautiful seasons, all good things have to come to an end, an end that could have been much sooner had people not been as passionate as they were. So it is in that vein that today we are a little happy/sad, happy for all the fun we’ve had and sad because there is no more to come. Today, we will look at first the finale double-part episode, The Last Day, and then take some time to look at the season as a whole.
So to set the scene, we open in on Amy’s (Melissa Fumero) and Raymond’s (Andre Braugher) last day in the 99, but as the gang wake, they don’t find their loved ones there but instead a waiting Jake (Andy Samberg). Because today is the day of the Final Heist, to crown The Grand Champion of the 99. It is time for hijinks to ensue as everyone picks their teams. However, one betrayal has already happened because Amy and Jake are working together. For you see, it is also Jake’s final day in the 99 and the NYPD. Because we will be looking at the season as a whole, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead for the whole season, so if you have not watched, please be aware before continuing.
TL;DR – The cast was terrific, the action was tight, and it was funny to boot.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review –
I walked into Shang-Chi with a little bit of trepidation. Marvel has not had a good track record when delving into this realm, with Iron Fist being the low point, but even Dr Strange didn’t get everything right. But this time, Marvel was not just dipping their toes into this genre. It was diving all the way in. Thankfully those trepidations were for nothing as they have nailed it.
So to set the scene, we open with the story of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), who discovered a mystical set of ten rings. These rings gave him tremendous power and eternal life, and he used that to take control across the world, both actively and from the shadows. In 1996, he started his mission to claim the one realm he had not concurred, but his expedition to Ta Lo failed with him being the only one alive. At the gates to Ta Lo, he expected to find a guardian. He didn’t expect to find one that outclassed him in every way or that he would actually find love. He and Ying Li (Fala Chen) go home and start a family, but it ends in tragedy. In the modern-day, their son Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) goes by Shaun and works as a valet in San Francisco with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). It is a quiet life, right up until they get attacked on a bus by a bunch of goons sent by his father.
TL;DR – A season of incredible highs and deep lows
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this season.
Rick and Morty Review –
At the best of times, Rick and Morty are one of those shows that are hard to contextualise on a season level. Each episode tends to fly so wildly into different territories that it makes finding a through-line difficult. However, this season is a little different, as you can divide the season into three relatively neat chunks. However, this is easy because there is a vast difference between this season’s high and low marks.
So to set the scene, we open Season Five’s Mort Dinner Rick Andre with things in dire straits. Rick (Justin Roiland) has been gravely wounded, and the spaceship is badly damaged. As Morty (Justin Roiland) carries Rick to the ship, all around them are crystals showing potential Ricks and Mortys, including them as Blade Rick and Morty, which is quote “tight”. As the spaceship crashes towards Earth, uncontrollable and on fire, Morty spends his last few moments calling Jessica (Kari Wahlgren) lamenting over what could have been. She suggests they go on a day tonight. Buoyed by that opportunity, Morty manages to save the day and splash lands the spaceship into one of Earth’s oceans, which should have been good but for the fact that it summons Mr Nimbus (Dan Harmon). Because we will be looking at the season as a whole, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead, especially for the season finale, so if you have not watched, please be aware before continuing.
TL;DR – A film that works through the sheer charisma of its cast but left me feeling hollow when I left.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film
Free Guy Review –
I had wanted to catch Free Guy for a couple of weeks now, but schedules never lined up, well that was until today when I managed to slip in just in time for the start of the film. I was intrigued because I like Ryan Reynolds as an actor, and I enjoy the video game/streaming intersection that the game is delving into. However, as I walked away from the cinemas there felt like a lot of opportunities were not taken.
So to set the scene, every day, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up, wishes his goldfish a good morning, gets a coffee, and goes to work at the bank, where he gets robbed multiple times a day. Because Guy is an NPC (non-player character) in the video game Free City. However, one day he notices one of the player characters in the game is humming a song that he loves, and it breaks him from his gameplay loop. It is here where he discovers a whole new world is just under his fingertips … or glasses.