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Blu-ray Review: Atomic Blonde

November 9, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Atomic BlondeSo, uh, spy here often?

Into the realm of James Bond and John Wick comes Atomic Blonde, a spy thriller set in the late ’80s and based on the graphic novel The Coldest City. Universal Pictures tabbed longtime stuntman David Leitch, who worked on the original John Wick, to direct the project and inserted Charlize Theron to headline a distinguished cast.

THE PLOT

Set in 1989 Berlin, shortly before Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall, Atomic Blonde opens with the murder of an MI6 agent that was carrying a list of every field agent in the USSR. When the list doesn’t show up in KGB hands the spy community realizes the killer has taken it for themselves and is looking to ransom the item to the highest bidder.

Into this situation MI6 sends one of its top agents, Lorraine Broughton (Theron), to rendezvous with local contact David Percival (James McAvoy). Her arrival isn’t a surprise to the KGB, however, as they try to abduct her. She escapes and meets with Percival, and the two of them set to work on tracking down the list, or, failing that, smuggling Spyglass, the source of the information, out of East Berlin.

Beyond the list there is also the matter of a double agent know as Satchel, whose identity is unknown but is believed to be revealed on the list. As the various agencies try to obtain the list whilst thwarting their rivals, nobody can trust anyone else, setting up a complex web that Lorraine must navigate to accomplish her mission and get out alive.

THE GOOD

Let’s start with Theron, an accomplished actress with the physical credentials to look like someone that could actually hold their own with trained men in a fight. She was the perfect choice for this part, acting vulnerable one moment and completely badass the next. It’s such a solid performance we’re having trouble thinking of someone else that could’ve played it half as well.

One of the big differences between the film and the graphic novel is an increase in action, and though previews made Atomic Blonde look like another John Wick film the reality is much more interesting. The fights, while immaculately choreographed, retain an air of realism and spontaneity. Watching Theron become exhausted as fights drag on made her triumph all the more exciting.

As strong as the action is throughout, the no-cut tracking shot scene deserves singular praise. It’s on par with the best we’ve seen of this technique — such as True Detective Season 1 and Children of Men — and really draws you in as Lorraine tries to escape KGB agents in a multi-level apartment building. If you don’t get fired up for it, you don’t like action.

It’s easy to get caught up on the physical aspects, but the plot is solid as well. There are twists and turns aplenty, and the cast does a good job in their roles. Some actors appear in familiar turns, such as John Goodman and Toby Jones as intelligence officers, but that doesn’t diminish their work. McAvoy works as an uneasy ally for Theron, and Sofia Boutella continues to impress.

THE BAD

Leitch could’ve been more subtle with the soundtrack. Yes, we get it, it’s the ’80s, but it feels like pop-heavy tunes are over done to the point where they become the focus at the expense of whatever is happening on the screen. We’re sorry, there’s nothing particularly dramatic about ’80s pop no matter how much you remix it.

THE BONUS FEATURES

There are about 10 minutes of deleted/extended scenes to view, though it’s a pretty uninspiring lot with nothing of substance (action or plot) to be found. Sometimes you watch scenes that were cut and wonder why they didn’t make it. This is not one of those times.

Beyond that you get a pretty standard group of featurettes, expanding on the location, plot and so on. The best of these is the “Anatomy of a Fight Scene,” which chronicles the aforementioned long-take fight. It’s more interesting than most stunt-based extras and worth a watch.

OVERALL

Loaded with action, style and sex appeal, Atomic Blonde is simply a lot of fun to watch and joins the likes of Salt and The Long Kiss Goodnight as great female-led espionage films.

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Video Game Review: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

November 7, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
At roughly 10-12 hours (more if you hunt for collectibles and do optional assassinations), Wolfenstein II is well-paced. There are a number of intense set pieces, though nothing that we’d consider to be a boss fight in the traditional sense, and tough encounters alongside exploration and lighter fare — such as a mission to find your friend’s mechanical arm — that serve as palette cleansers.
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Blu-ray Review: Annabelle: Creation

November 2, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
In the early 1940s, doll maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia; Without a Trace) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto; Lord of the Rings) are living a simple life with their daughter, Annabelle. Returning home from church one day they get a flat tire, and while changing it Annabelle steps into the road where she is struck and killed by a passing car.
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Video Game Review: WWE 2k18

October 23, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
WWE 2k18 takes the series’ presentation up a notch, offering up the smoothest and most realistic looking wrestlers and animations we’ve ever seen in a wrestling game. Superstar entrances have been painstakingly recreated for authenticity and watching the hundreds of motion-captured moves executed is great — especially seeing all those banned moves get another day in the sun.
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Video Game Review: South Park: The Fractured but Whole

October 18, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Like its predecessor, The Fractured but Whole casts you as the customizable “new kid,” who has recently moved to South Park and is hanging out with the local children. It begins with Cartman traveling through time to fix the future… by having everyone dress up as super heroes. There are two rival factions: Coon and Friends and Freedom Pals, setting up a Marvel/DC dynamic.
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