TV Review – Snowpiercer: First, the Weather Changed & Prepare to Brace

TL;DR – This an okay start, but nothing really captured me with the opening episodes.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Snowpiercer: First, the Weather Change & Prepare to Brace. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

A couple of years ago, there was this truly fascinating film from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho who would go on write/direct last year’s Oscar winner Parasite. I found the film to be fascinating right up until that ending which I am still going back and forth on. So when I heard they were going make a TV show out of it I was intrigued how they would pull it off, the setting is there, but is the story?   

So to set the scene, as the world started to crash as global warming and sea levels swamped the coasts. To fix this the world’s scientist had a plan to cool the world down … and they went too far. The world was freezing over and one man had a solution, Mr Wilford who built a 1001 car train for the world’s rich. However, as it was about to take off on its never-ending journey across the world those who could not afford it boarded the train in the last-ditch effort to save themselves from the coming death. Six years later, those who made it on still live in the tail, living off meagre food bars, trying to find the right time to rebel. They are ready to make their move when their leader Layton (Daveed Diggs), is taken by the hospitality team led by Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) because he is the only homicide detective left on the train and someone just got murdered. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Countdown – My Personal Top 25 Episodes of Star Trek

TL;DR – We count down my favourite episodes of Star Trek that span the whole gamut from 1966 to 2020   

Countdown

Well, today at the time of writing it is May the 4th and I feel compelled to write about Science Fiction. However, I have spent a large chunk of the day trying to find an angle to look at its namesake without much luck, so when in doubt fall back to something you love. Well, there are few things I love more than Star Trek, at since that is a science fiction show and it is even has a ‘star’ in the title, I thought what the hay, I’m 50% of the way there.

So today I am going to count down my favourite 25 episodes from across all of Star Trek’s run, which at the time of writing is everything up to the end of Season One of Star Trek Picard but not including The Animated Series simply because I have not watched them and they are not really considered canon but maybe (that is a whole pandora’s box for another day). This means we have 743 episodes across eight series (The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Short Treks & Picard). Bringing them down you just a top 25 was a hard job with a lot of amazing episodes just missing out. Also, I should point out that this is my list if you have a favourite episode that didn’t make it on here let me know which one it was in the comments below. Well without further comment, let’s dive in

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Video Game Review – XCOM: Chimera Squad

TL;DR – it is a game that is something old (The XCOM Setting) and something new (living rather than waring), something borrowed (SWAT mechanics), and something blue (the face of any enemy who just discovered Torque)  

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

XCOM: Chimera Squad. Image Credit: Firaxis Games and 2K Games.

Review –

If there is one studio that is the king of turn-based strategy games it would be Firaxis Studios. While they are probably better known for their fundamental Civilization franchise, they have also delved into the world of science fiction, alien invasions, and reloading that autosave because your fully upgraded soldier just missed the one guy standing right next to them and now they are bleeding out on the floor. I have enjoyed the XCOM series in the past, okay not that one alien that pretends it’s a civilian, but other than that, so I was interested when I heard we were getting a sort of sequel/spin-off thingy. Well, I became even more interested when I got my hand on it and I found out just how fun it was.  

So to set the scene, It has been a couple of hears since the end of XCOM 2, and the world has sort of found a new equilibrium as humans, aliens, and hybrids live side by side. There is one place in the world that has been remarkably successful with this, the famous City 31. XCOM has moved from overthrowing an alien invasion to helping maintain order in a constantly fragmented world. Thus the Chimera Squad was created to help local police, but just as they arrive the mayor of City 31 Mayor Nightingale (Nika Futterman) is murdered in front of the squad and you have to work out who did it before the city tears itself apart.

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TV Review – Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: Season 1

TL;DR – This is an ambitious return into the world of Ghost in the Shell that exceeds expectation in some areas but I am not sure the overarching story is going to work for everyone.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are a couple of shows that serve as a gateway into the world of anime. One of the greats is Ghost in the Shell a grand cyber-punk post-human jaunt into the future. For a lot of people, it was the movie that was their first contact, but for me, it was the Ghost in the Shell SAC. It was this, bright bold explosion, exploring religion, philosophy, what it meant to be alive. Since then I have wondered if anyone could capture that again, and the less said about that movie the better. Well, today we get a chance to see as we dive back into the world of Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn).      

In the time since the show and movie, the world has become a very different place. The G4, that is America, China, Russia, and the European Union, moved the world into an economical system called Sustainable War, which sounds about as bad as it. This is escalated by the Global Simultaneous Default when all the world’s financial system collapsed at the same time. Since Section 9 had been disbanded, most of the team joined in on the sustainable war effort as a mercenary team called Ghost. They worked their way up from South America and at the start of the series they are travelling through the ruins of Palm Springs. They are there to stop a raid on the gated section of Los Angeles but there is more going on than they first thought. Now we will be looking at the series as a whole and as such there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Video Game Review – Endless Space 2 (with Vaulters, Supremacy & Penumbra)

TL;DR – A polished and calming take on the 4x genre

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Endless Space 2. Image Credit: Amplitude Studios.

Review –

Several years ago I picked up a new space 4X game called Endless Space. It was from a new developer Amplitude Studios and combined a strategy game with space in a way that I loved. It started a bit rough around the edges but grew into a really solid game. Now when I heard there was a sequel, I was interested but it dropped a bad time, well now I have some time at home thanks to *gestures broadly around* it was a good moment to go back and rectify that.

So to set the scene, Endless Space 2 is a 4X turn-based strategy game. This means that you pick a race like The United Empire, or The Vodyani, or The Hisso, from there you need to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. You will do this by building new colonies on Mediterranean or terrain or monsoon planets, researching technologies from the technology web, and probably concurring a neighbour or two.

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Movie Review – Altered Carbon: Resleeved

TL;DR – It’s fine, nothing amazing but not a complete mess.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Altered Carbon: Resleeved. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I’ve been quite enjoying the jaunts into the world of Altered Carbon as of late. A world of switching bodies and switching cast members. A world of excesses and a world of death that is only real death half the time. I’ve watched both seasons, so when I heard there was an animated movie, well I had to give it a watch and well … it’s fine.

So after the events of the Second Season (I think, but I’m not entirely sure), we open on the planet Latimer. Here a young girl Holly (Brittany Cox/ Ayaka Asai) is running from her life through the upper streets as air cars and large holograms walk around her. She is being chased by two thugs, who are trying to catch her. Running into a club she is almost at a needle casting facility when a ninja slaughters the two thugs and turns on her. Things are bad but then Takeshi (Ray Chase/ Tatsuhisa Suzuki) arrives to save the day. Teaming up with local CTAC operator Gina (Elizabeth Maxwell/ Rina Satô) they get Holly to the safety of the Yakuza or as it turns out maybe into significantly more danger than she was before.

Now, this is an interesting film, in that we are usually a bit cagier about spoilers with films, but then it is also hard to talk about this film without getting into spoilers for both past seasons and a big reveal in this film. So with that in mind, there will be some big [SPOILERS] around character points going forward but not for the ending.

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Movie Review – Sol Levante

TL;DR – An interesting vignette, but more focusing on the style than the substance      
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Sol Levante. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I mentioned earlier this week with Familiar Strangers, that it was the shortest film that I had ever reviewed for the sight, well not three days later we are going to beat that record with Sol Levante. An animated short made in 4K HD that I don’t think anyone in the world is going to see at 4K at least not for the foreseeable future.

This is an interesting film to review because there is not a whole lot to it, but then it also feels like there is a bit more to it than first appears. There is not a story, bar a young woman fighting I want to say demons across a shifting landscape. There are quite a few of these set-piece moments that the fit into the three minutes run time that hint at things. It is a film that fits into the sort of nexus of fantasy, science fiction, and spiritual genres and is steeped in symbolism if nothing else.  

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