Deadpool 2 Review – 6.7/10

It’s truly a great achievement that Deadpool 2 was made. Let us not forget that the first film only exists because of the combined efforts of a very dedicated starring actor, Ryan Reynolds, a passionate director, Tim Miller, and an almost animalistic public that went above and beyond the call to get the film made. By all rights such a film shouldn’t exist. It was the first modern comic book film to get an R rating, featured a fairly obscure character for the general public, and is placed within a universe that already had several films with tons of continuity problems. It was a monumental achievement not because it was a great film but because it came with so much risk. And yet it did extremely well and lived up to the expectations of comic book fans young and old. Because of this, we were lucky enough to get a sequel.

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Deadpool 2 is not as good of a film as its predecessor. The main reason for this comes from the arrogance that clearly affected the writing process. While the first film was unsure of itself and had to be at least somewhat cautious and subtle with its jokes and digs at various things, this film has no inhibitions. They didn’t show any restraint or caution with how they wrote this film and that actually hurts the dialog a lot. Too many of the jokes were current pop culture references and overly obvious. The best example being that Deadpool actually calls Cable (Josh Brolin) Thanos in one scene. This is lazy writing. It’s an obvious joke that required no effort. It’s not particularly funny and it’s not a timeless joke anyone will appreciate years down the road. Many of the jokes in this movie are like that. They didn’t feel the need to be subtle or try particularly hard. They just went for the easy laughs. And I will admit that I laughed quite a bit, but I don’t believe I would laugh at many of the jokes during a second viewing. I have watched the first film multiple times and I still laugh every time. In my opinion, this is the biggest problem with the film and it comes from the fact that they knew they could get away with pretty much anything this time around. That being said, the credit scenes were some of the funniest jokes in the whole movie, but were also very on the nose.

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The general narrative of the film isn’t as strong as the first movie either. The characters are more plentiful and better in multiple cases, but the story isn’t as cohesive or powerful. While the first film is a focused narrative about Wade Wilson and his transition into Deadpool, this movie lacks a well-defined character focus and arc. The first half of the movie is about Deadpool and his dealing with a tragedy. It’s a strong plot that follows the first film well. But about halfway through the movie it shifts into being a story about other characters that just happens to have Deadpool in it. Making a film not focused on Deadpool isn’t a problem if it had been sold that way and wasn’t called Deadpool 2. But that wasn’t what happened here.

Though it did unfocus the narrative, the addition of several new characters with a decent amount of screen time was not a bad thing. Some of them were extremely well done. Domino, as the best example, was an absolute joy to watch. I genuinely didn’t think that character would work on screen with her powers being done in a sensible, believable, and entertaining way, but they did an excellent job with her. So much so that I left the theater hoping for a Domino solo film. There were other good additions as well, plus a few great cameo appearances.

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Visually speaking, I would actually say this was better than the first film. The violence is upped considerably from the very start. Even just the number of severed limbs is increased exponentially and they did not hide or censor the actions leading up to them at all. The CGI was also very good with great mutant battles, some very well-choreographed fight scenes, and multiple brutal Deadpool injuries. This is a gruesome movie and that’s exactly how it should be. I was also happy with the music. I think they handled it similarly to the first one where they did a mixture of serious seemingly out of place romance tracks with hilarious joke songs that were written specifically for the movie.

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Ultimately I very much enjoyed Deadpool 2 but must state that the first one was a better overall movie, comic book or otherwise. This installment in the Wade Wilson franchise took too many liberties in a way that was lazy and lacking in authenticity. I think it works best when they write a serious film with over the top comedy elements rather than an over the top comedy with serious elements, which is what happened here. I will need to watch it again once it’s out of theaters, but I wouldn’t pay to see it a second time on the big screen. Definitely hope to see more Domino in future films though.

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Ode to a Backpack

More than 20 years ago, when I was just a boy, my parents bought me a backpack. I was going to attend a church camp in the summer and they required all students to bring a backpack. My mother didn’t want me to use my school back pack so she decided that I needed one specifically for activities. It was a simple all black Everest brand backpack. It had two pockets in the front, one smaller pouch behind those, two netted side pockets, and then the main pouch. Even by today’s standards, it was a pretty nice simple back pack. Today you can’t even find a four compartment backpack from them on their site or Amazon that still falls within the normal backpack category. What I did not know then was that this backpack would be my closest companion for two straight decades.

Old Faithful

If backpacks could talk, the story mine would tell would be more interesting than the lives of most people. It has been to multiple states including CA, IL, WI, PA, TX, MI, NC, AZ, CO, NV, FL, AL, and NY. It has been to and lived in multiple countries including the USA, France, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Taiwan. It’s transported thousands of dollars in products like laptops, gaming systems, mp3 players, and countless articles of clothing. It’s aided in crimes like transporting illegally obtained alcohol (past cops), smuggling alcohol into college dorms for underage drinking, and pirating digital content. It’s been used regularly in multiple jobs, been to countless theme parks and tourist attractions, and has traveled more than 100 miles by bike and on foot. It’s truly lived an amazing life for a backpack and I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.

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Sadly, my backpack is ready to retire. I honestly thought this day would come sooner and I’ve been worried about it for several years. The inner lining is pretty much gone, the main zipper has bunches of threads caught in it, and it only has two of its six original zipper pulls. But it stuck it out for a very long time. And honestly it could last even longer if not for the weather here in Taiwan. After so much wear and tear, the main seam finally popped and the hole is slowly growing as more and more of it opens. I could try to patch it but the threads are already pulled so much that it would be cheaper and less time consuming to just buy another back pack. And with the amount of rain we get here having holes, even when patched, is no bueno. But this back pack has been so good to me for so long that I felt it needed a proper memorial in the form of this blog post.

Holes

I’ve had this back pack longer than most of my friends. My relationship with this backpack is four times longer than the one I have with the woman I will most likely end up marrying. It’s been with me through thick and then. I’ve been homeless with it. I’ve traveled around the world with it. It’s been with me through multiple relationships, jobs, and adventures. I can honestly say that if I had to choose between saving my backpack and a complete stranger I’d have to think about it.

Substitue

It’s been a great run, but all good things must come to an end. The hard part now is replacing such a backpack effectively. I own other backpacks I’ve acquired in one way or another over the years but none of them can replace this one. They’re either too big and bulky or too small and fragile. I need something at the same normal size with the same quality, which is much harder to find in today’s cheap mass produced production system. And it needs to have just as many pockets. I’ve been using a temporary backpack I already owned of similar size and style, but it doesn’t compare. The pockets are all in the wrong places, it’s of a cheaper overall quality, and it’s a pull string and buckle main pocket instead of a zipper, which I hate. And already the buckle is giving me problems after just three days of use because of low quality workmanship. I’ll have to explore the markets of Taipei and find a replacement backpack worthy of the mantle. I don’t know how long it will take, but I won’t rush the decision and I’ll spare no expense. Well maybe that’s not entirely true, but I am willing to spend a decent amount of money for a solid backpack to replace this one. I don’t want to have to replace it for at least another 20 years. To that end I say farewell backpack. Thank you for your service, loyalty, and strength. Good night sweet prince. I bid you adieu.

New Hotness

*After writing, but before publishing this piece I was able to find a new backpack that met all my conditions. All black, has the two front pockets, a smaller pouch, and main pouch, zippers with pulls, and two netted sides. It also has some amenities old faithful didn’t like a laptop pocket inside the main pouch. I’ll probably use for my Switch though. Plus I was able to find it for a very fair $13.41 including taxes. Hopefully this is the last post like this I make for another 20 years.

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Knight vs Plumber: GOTY 2017

I got my Nintendo Switch in December of last year. Technically I bought it in November but I didn’t open it until Christmas. I was always going to buy one but I had been waiting till the right time. Up until that point I didn’t see the value in buying one yet. But it was Super Mario Odyssey that finally pushed me over the edge. From the very first E3 reveal trailer, I couldn’t wait to play that game. I no joke was on the brink of shedding tears watching those trailers leading up to the release. So it should be no surprise that Odyssey was the first game I played when I finally opened my Switch. But it wasn’t the only game I purchased when I picked up the console. I actually bought several games at the same time and the other one that I was most excited about was of course The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

In 2017, Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild duked it out for Game of the Year. Both won high profile awards. But even the creators of Odyssey stated publicly that they thought BotW was the better game. Both games were highly praised and both games also had haters in the form of trolls and keyboard warriors. And of course because so many people don’t buy Nintendo, there was a lot of noise about how neither game mattered enough to warrant being GOTY. But I wanted to decide for myself which game was actually the best. So I played them back to back with BotW going second.

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For me it was important to find out which game is actually better from both subjective and objective standpoints. I wanted to get the full experience of each game and be able to make an informed final decision about not only which game I liked more but which game is actually better based on the objective standards that all games are compared by. This meant pursuing 100% completion in both games.

I of course started out with Super Mario Odyssey. As I said, this was the game that made me finally buy a Switch and it came out first so it was the same experience that everyone else had when judging between the two games. It took me 60 hours to get a full 100% completion in Odyssey. That’s 1000 power moons, all costumes, all possessions, all souvenirs, all collectibles, and time spent playing Balloon World after the fact. I have a full understanding of the game and everything it currently has to offer. I can say without hesitation that this is the best 3D Mario platformer they ever made. It was perfect. Challenging at times, but totally doable, including the final challenge level. The lite open world aspect running as a singular continuous experience rather than pulling you out every time you got a power moon was a vast improvement over the classic system. The graphics are beautiful. The sound effects are great. I wasn’t super impressed by the music, but I can’t really remember a Mario game where I particularly was outside of the original Super Mario Bros. for SNES so that’s no real detractor for me with this specific franchise. There actually was a bit of story in this one that went past save the princess. It really is a glorious game that’s the culmination of the hopes and dreams of all Mario fans who have been playing since the original Super Mario Bros. more than 30 years ago.

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What I especially appreciated about Odyssey was that it was the perfect length. It wasn’t a game that’s too short where at the end you think that was amazing but I wish there was more to do. It also wasn’t a game that felt like it dragged on and just wouldn’t end. When I finished it I felt perfectly content. I didn’t want to play anymore and I didn’t feel like I hadn’t played enough. I have always subscribed to the $1 should equal around 1 hour of play theory and I think the fact that game took me 60 hours is very perfect because games cost about $60 today. Super Mario Odyssey Is objectively an excellent game, which we can see from the reviews and many awards it won. But it was also a great game in my personal opinion. I had a blast playing it and I truly hope they just make a sequel instead of milking it to death with paid DLC.

I ultimately did not get a 100% completion in Breath of the Wild. I wanted to and I spent most of my time playing it under the impression that I would. But eventually I just burned out. I put 160 hours into that game. It is a magnificent gaming experience from start to finish. Beautiful scenery, different gameplay then we’ve ever had in a Zelda game before, actual character development, more than three main characters, a much more robust economy, tons of gameplay variation, way too many armor sets, and more puzzles of various types and sizes than I can remember seeing in any console adventure game ever. But it gets to be too much. 900 korok seeds to find, 120 shrines, 16 full armor sets, 18 single armor pieces, most of which need to be leveled up, and fairly challenging and lengthy DLC, which I also completed.

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Breath of the Wild is the kind of game I would have loved as a kid. Back when maybe one game a quarter came out that I genuinely had to have. Back when I couldn’t afford to buy games so I had to wait till my birthday and Christmas to get games. A game this long and epic would have been amazing. I would have played it forever and did every single little thing. But today who has the time? I don’t personally know a single person who got all the seeds. Most people online say they didn’t get that far. I didn’t get all the armor sets. I only maxed out four complete sets and a few single piece items. It’s just too much. Especially with the ridiculous and ever growing backlog I already have. I started the game on February 27th. I played it multiple days a week up until April 19th when I finally went and defeated Ganon because God of War was coming out the next day and I wasn’t going to delay playing that.

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I don’t have too many complaints about Breath of the Wild. And a game being too long is the best complaint a game can get in 2018. The issue comes down to the fact that the length is often padded with monotony and collecting, the worst type of padding. You spend so much of the game trying to find resources rather than new things. Once you have all the shrines, which takes quite a lot of time, you spend most of your time trying to find materials to level up armor and korok seeds. Both of these tasks are not really fun. They’re enjoyable the first few times because you’re learning and discovering things. But by the end of the game you’re just warping to map points waiting for minerals to respawn and setting up campfires waiting for star pieces to fall out of the sky and dragons to pass by, since you can only get one of four types of materials from a dragon a day. And there are three different dragons to deal with . . . It’s just a lot of tedious work in the late game. And that is a turn off when you have plenty of other games to play, as most do in the current gaming landscape. That’s not to say that the game’s not worth the money. It absolutely is. I got way more than 60 hours of enjoyable organic gameplay. Even if I had never taken the time to beat Ganon, it would still have been worth the money. But it begs the question of how am I supposed to grade the game? Do I say that because I got more hours of great gameplay than in Odyssey that it’s length is better even if I ultimately felt like it was too long? Or do I say that the length wasn’t balanced enough and because I left the game feeling like I hadn’t finished it that took away from my overall enjoyment? Hard to say. But I can say that I most likely won’t ever dive back into the game. I wouldn’t say that about Odyssey if they added more free content though. I’ve already taken the time to go back in to get added costumes by playing Balloon World for quick coins.

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It’s very difficult for me to ultimately decide which of the two games I liked more. Super Mario Odyssey was so fulfilling in every way. I’m also more of a Mario fan than a Zelda fan in general to begin with. Breath of the Wild was more than fulfilling. It was overwhelming. And it was overwhelmingly good. Super Mario Odyssey impressed me for a Nintendo game. Breath of the Wild impressed me for a video game. And that’s why it won Game of the Year. It might not be my favorite game ever, but it absolutely does everything at the highest caliber of quality.

So after playing both games for a combined total of more than 200 hours of gameplay, I have to conclude that Breath of the Wild is the better of the two games and was the correct decision as Game of the Year 2017. But in any other year that would have gone to Super Mario Odyssey easily. I highly recommend both games and I’m glad to have taken the time to play them. I’ve actually put more hours into my Switch this year than any other platform so far.

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