You read the headline right: I am just now getting around to reviewing The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. It’s not that the game went under my radar. I actually went against my “never pre-order” rule to support GOG.com, which is completely DRM-free and handed out discounts to anybody who owned previous Witcher titles. So I’ve had The Witcher 3 since its release on May 19th, and yet I just finished it. My final gametime clocked in at exactly 100 hours, and I still had a couple of treasure hunts left unfinished.
Given the above, I don’t have to elaborate on how much time you can sink into The Witcher 3. But just because a game is lengthy doesn’t mean that the time you spend within it is worthwhile. I have 200 hours logged in Destiny, yet the vast majority of that time was spent re-playing the same old missions ad-infinitum. Similarly, I spent almost 80 hours in Metal Gear Solid V, but the majority of that was in Side Missions, which re-use environments that are already present in the main game. Even in other huge-scale RPGs, like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Bethesda’s RPGs (Elder Scrolls, Fallout), a handful of quests are interesting and memorable and the majority are fetch quests or “go here and kill this monster” missions.
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This week on Firsties: Lost, we cover Sawyer-centric episode “Outlaws!” It’s a controversial episode, often referred to as an example of filler at its worst, but we think it has a lot more to offer than it’s given credit for. Enjoy!
(Anomalisa is unreleased and does not yet have an official release date. Therefore, this review will remain light on story details and spoilers)
Anomalisa, the first film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman since Synecdoche, New York seven years ago, is a brilliant and wholly unique piece of work. Co-directed by Moral Orel animator Duke Johnson, Anomalisa tells the story of Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a businessman who suffers from a mental disorder which makes him see everybody else outside of himself as the same person. The rarely-mentioned illness gives a narrative reason for the movie’s presentation, in which all men and women share the same face and voice.
However, the framework also serves to visualize the feeling of boredom and over-familiarity that tends to come with age. As the film progresses and we follow Michael through beautifully detailed yet somehow depressing locations and witness the repetition of various thoughts and ideas (including some hilarious asides about the Minneapolis Zoo, which is apparently “zoo-sized”), we empathize with him, sharing the feeling that everything and everyplace is inherently the same. When he begins seeking out somebody special, whether it be an ex or a local fling, we understand what he’s striving for on a human level.
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This week on Jay and Ross Talk Shit, we go back to basics with a current events episode! Topics include Facebook’s new practices and features, the Democratic Debate, Fandango’s Star Wars site crash, and the so-called Alien Super-Structure story that’s been floating around social media. Enjoy!
0:00 – Intro
1:01 – Royals and the Playoffs
2:15 – Beards, Aging, and Stereotypes
5:06 – Facebook Warning Users When the Government Hacks Their Accounts
—6:26-8:55 – LinkedIn Lawsuit Tangent
15:23 – The Proposed Facebook “Dislike” Feature
—21:23 – Other Facebook Features, As Proposed By Us
23:41 – The Democratic Debate
—31:14-33:06 – Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, and 9/11
37:31 – Star Wars Ticket Sales Crash Fandango, Movietickets, Arclight, and Alamo’s Websites
46:13 – We Found An Alien Super Structure…Or Not
The most exciting thing about The Martian is how confident it is about NOT being exciting. Despite kicking off the story with a literally otherworldly sandstorm, screenwriter Drew Goddard and director Ridley Scott spend the majority of the film’s 2 hour and 22 minute runtime focusing on several very smart individuals trying to solve a problem. And yet, The Martian is consistently engaging throughout, one of the most entertaining films of the year. It’s been making a killing at the box office, and should be the popular choice for “Best Picture” come Oscar season.
Part of the film’s entertainment value comes from the characters. Matt Damon, in particular, is excellent here as astronaut Mark Watney, exuding an every-man charm that makes him likable even to audiences with no scientific predilections. He’s simultaneously self-deprecating and extremely confident, and his excitement at the prospect of technically colonizing Mars, or being a space pirate due to the definition of maritime law, is endearing. The script gives him moments of vulnerability, when the odds of survival are significantly against his favor, but his immediate inclination to tackle problems head-on means that he never comes off as a victim. The audience WANTS to see him survive, which ups the stakes for the whole movie.
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