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Kong: Skull Island’s Skull Crawlers Origin Explained

The Skull Crawlers made for unique and horrifying enemies in Kong: Skull Island, but what are the origins of these nasty creatures? Kong: Skull Island is the second installment of the MonsterVerse cinematic universe, following Gareth Edward’s Godzilla in 2014. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ film set itself apart from Godzilla by taking place in 1973 and featuring a much brighter color palette and variety of monsters.

Kong: Skull Island featured a great ensemble cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and fun setpieces. Like Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong, Skull Island makes the titular location a character in itself. It’s got a teeming ecosystem filled with unique creatures and wildlife. The movie also reinvents Kong himself and in a break from previous versions of the story, the giant gorilla isn’t taken from the Island to New York in the finale.

Related: Godzilla 2 Theory: Charles Dance Is Older Tom Hiddleston From Kong: Skull Island

While Godzilla and Kong are obviously the A-listers of the MonsterVerse, there are plenty of other Kaiju to contend with. This includes the Skull Crawlers, who become the major threat of Kong: Skull Island. In fact, the reason Kong attacks the Army helicopters is that they’re bombing the island awakening the subterranean Skull Crawlers from their nests. These creatures are responsible for wiping out Kong’s family, leaving him the last of his kind.

A Skull Crawlers body is mostly made up of bone, allowing them to borrow and survive underground, in addition to withstanding bullets and other attacks. Vogt-Roberts wanted to avoid using dinosaurs in Kong: Skull Island, so the Skull Crawlers drew from a number of influences. This includes the Two-Legged Lizard seen in the 1933 original, Sachiel the Third Angel from Neon Genesis Evangelion and – bizarrely enough – Cubone from Pokemon.

The Skull Crawlers are driven by a metabolism that makes them constantly hungry, and they have two rows of serrated teeth to chew through victims. They also have extra long tongues that can shoot out and grab prey, pulling them straight into their mouths. They only have two limbs and a tail, though their muscular bodies allow them to be extra mobile on land – the tail comes in useful in combat for whipping prey also. Despite appearing somewhat mindless and aggressive, they are shown to have a degree of intelligence too. The Skull Devil, for instance, refuses to eat a soldier who attempts to sacrifice himself with explosives and instead wipes him away with its tail.

Given the absence of other large predators on Skull Island – aside from the occasional giant spider or squid – it’s assumed the Skull Crawlers ate their way to the top of the food chain. The Skull Crawlers made for a creepy foe in Kong: Skull Island and while they may not reappear in future MonsterVerse entries, they gave Kong a good warm-up for his title fight in 2020’s Godzilla Vs Kong.

Next: Kong: Skull Island Pitch Meeting


2019-04-09 06:04:22

Padraig Cotter

Theo Love Interview: The Legend of Cocaine Island

The term “Florida Man” has become ubiquitous with wild, ridiculous, and incredulous stories of inept criminals who straddle the line between obscene and absurd. One such story is the focus of the new Netflix documentary, The Legend of Cocaine Island, true crime doc which offers a light and jolly touch to a genre which is frequently criticized for being overly morbid and violent.

In the aftermath of the economic recession brought about by the 2008 housing market crash, Rodney Hyden did what anyone whose livelihood was compromised by the financial circumstances would; he took a local storyteller at his word and embarked on a quest to dig up a buried treasure, millions of dollars in contraband. The Legend of Cocaine Island tells the true story of a Florida everyman who went outside the realm of law, order, and common sense in an effort to provide for his family. In the wake of a spate of grisly true crime documentaries, it’s refreshing to see a story like this: as hilarious and unbelievable as it is sincere and empathetic, The Legend of Cocaine Island is an atypical documentary, to say the least.

Related: 10 Best True Crime Shows On Netflix

While promoting the film’s debut on Netflix, director Theo Love (Little Hope Was Arson) spoke to Screen Rant about The Legend of Cocaine Island. He speaks about how refreshing it is to make a different kind of True Crime Doc, casting Rodney Hyden himself in the movie’s extensive reenactment sequences, and shares some insight into the extensive process of creating a documentary from scratch.

The hot meme right now is typing the words “Florida Man” followed by your birthday into a search engine and post the first story that comes up.

Theo Love: I haven’t seen that one. That’s hilarious!

How did this “Florida Man” story catch your attention?

Theo Love: A couple of years ago, I was looking for a documentary idea. I made a crime documentary before, and I liked that, but I wanted lighter material, maybe a crime where there wasn’t much of a victim. Florida, as you know, is home to ridiculous criminal stories. I went down the rabbit hole of “Florida Man” research, and came up with all those unbelievable stories, but when I came across Rodney’s, it was almost as if it was structured as a movie already. It felt like the story was just a screenplay ready to be filmed.

Another thing I like about this is how there’s very little violence in the story. Sometimes, I get kind of icked out by True Crime Docs. They can be a little morbid and I’m getting entertainment of true stories of people getting murdered horribly. The Legend of Cocaine Island is refreshingly non-violent, and I like that!

Theo Love: I like that, too. When I was making this, I was in kind of a dark period of my life, and I think that a lot of people around the country shared that sentiment, and I wanted to make a story that wasn’t going into those darker, depressing areas. There are other films and filmmakers who do a wonderful job with those, but I wanted to find a story that was true, but was ridiculously entertaining, and that’s what I got with Rodney’s story. We didn’t have to go to any of the dark territory for it to feel like a movie.

It really does feel like a movie in so many ways. Was there ever the thought to make a straight feature with this story, rather than the documentary format that you’re already familiar with?

Theo Love: Yeah, there’s always that thought. I’ve always wanted to be a narrative filmmaker, but documentaries, there’s something so exceptional about them that I love. You can just pick up a camera and start filming something or someone, and you’re making a documentary already. When we started this, it was just a really small indie project. But that’s the great thing about Netflix; they’ve been changing the whole documentary landscape because they’ve come along and supported indie docs and are giving them a huge spotlight. That’s what we’re really excited about.

So there’s a lot of reenactment in the film, and Rodney plays himself. Can you talk about directing him in those reenactments? Did he ever tell you, “no, this is the way it happened,” leading you to shooting a scene differently, or stuff like that?

Theo Love: He wanted to be in the film to make sure it was authentic and real. I, of course, wanted that as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better actor. There was something about Rodney, from the day I met him, that I was like, this is the kind of person you hope to find in a casting call. He didn’t have that movie star quality to him. (laughs) It was kind of an obvious source from the get-go, and really fun. We had a blast making this film. We went to Puerto Rico. We all crammed in a tiny little plane, and all of us were terrified, Rodney was in there. Hopefully, that energy comes across and people have a blast watching it!

Did you shoot the reenactments in all of the real locations that they happened in real life?

Theo Love: We did our very best. There were a couple of situations where we were denied access to film. Particularly, a spot where a treasure might be buried. That request was denied, so we had to find a different spot, but it is on the island that Rodney went to to find the treasure.

One of the characters in the film, someone I found really intriguing was Dee, AKA The Cuban. His face is covered throughout all his interviews, but he’s such an integral part of the story. I read that he approached you to be in the film. But was there ever a concern that he might not be game to play, so to speak?

Theo Love: Yeah. I hadn’t seen him in any of the news articles. There was nobody who had gotten access to this person. And, with a name like “The Cuban,” he just seemed like this mythical figure. We weren’t planning on going after him, but as we started reaching out to people he was associated with, he heard about the project and was a little upset that nobody had interviewed him to get his side of the story! That’s what I find with a lot of crime documentaries; getting access isn’t as difficult as you might think, because everybody wants to tell their side of the story. I tell all my subjects, “I’m going to do my very best to give you the chance to tell your side and pit it against someone who might have a different perspective.” I think that provides some interesting drama.

Was there anyone you wanted to interview but weren’t able to?

Theo Love: Hmm, you know, I think we got pretty much everybody! There’s always things, while you’re making the film, that feel like, you wish you had an hour left in the day just to get that last shot one more time, or you wish that you could get this one interview, but in hindsight, I think we got everything we needed to tell the story the way we wanted.

Zooming out, way out to putting a documentary together, what is the process of working from your initial idea and how does that change based on the interviews?

Theo Love: My producing partner, Bryan Storkel, and I, we have done lots of projects. We both meet the subject as soon as possible, even before we know if we’re going to move forward with the project. We go out and try to just hang out for a week. We try to get to know the people who we think might be subjects in the film, and try to meet them at their homes, in their environment, to try to get to know how we could possibly communicate who they are on film. Then we come back to L.A. and spend about three months of creative brainstorming and how we can weave these stories together. During that time, we’re continuing to call our subjects and talking to them about how they want to tell their stories. Really, our approach is allowing real people to tell their stories. There’s no narration by us; it’s all the people who lived it, and in some cases, they’re acting in it as well. Once we get the structure down, we go out and do the interviews, which are fairly pointed, because they’re based on conversations we’ve already had. They’re not scripted. I did have, like, four hour interviews, and so we just talked about everything about the story from every angle.

Related to that, how do you play interrogator when you can tell that they’re not giving you, not what you want, but what you already know to be the truth based on your conversations? Has it ever happened that they’re holding back when the cameras are rolling and it’s time to lay down the truth, on the record?

Theo Love: When I’m preparing a subject for the interview, I say, “look, I want to give you the opportunity to defend yourself against some argument that might be pitted against you. I play the Devil’s Advocate with them, and I position myself as that. Like, “what would you say if somebody accused you of lying?” And then they defend themselves on camera, so I don’t have to be the camera. If somebody’s a liar, and they lie on camera, it’s gonna be found out. It’s not a good idea to lie in any situation, but especially on camera.

What were some of the cinematic influences going into The Legend of Cocaine Island?

Theo Love: Definitely a lot of Coen brothers films were watched. We wanted to have a quirk in it, for it to feel a little bit odd. So the Coen brothers were a big one. We watched a lot of treasure hunting stuff. That’s what we were looking for, to give the feeling that the audience was going on a real treasure hunt, to feel that adventure. A lot of adventure-type films. The Big Lebowski was probably one of the more specific films for this one.

More: 10 True Crime Podcasts You Need To Be Listening To

The Legend of Cocaine Island debuts March 29 on Netflix.


2019-03-28 05:03:58

Zak Wojnar

Kong: Skull Island Pitch Meeting: That’s One Big Monkey

Everybody’s favorite big ape is back and starring in his very own cinematic universe, so Screen Rant’s Ryan George is here to reveal what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for Kong: Skull Island. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and released in 2017, Skull Island is set in the same universe as 2014’s Godzilla, but takes place around 40 years earlier.

Following the release of The Avengers in 2012 and its monstrous $1.5 billion box office gross, just about every other studio decided that cinematic universes were clearly the way to go and that they each needed one of their own. Some attempts were more successful than others (Dark Universe, we hardly knew ye), but Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ MonsterVerse seems to be going well so far, with two movies released and both of them proving to be modest box office hits.

Related: Watchmen Pitch Meeting

Kong: Skull Island borrowed not only the general concept of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also several of its stars as well, with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and even Guardians of the Galaxy‘s John C. Reilly all appearing in the ensemble cast. The film is set in 1973, and sees a group of soldiers who are being pulled out of Vietnam assigned to a new mission before they head home: exploring a mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean. Accompanying them are photojournalist Mason Weaver (Larson), former SAS soldier James Conrad (Hiddleston), and Monarch representative Bill Randa (John Goodman).

Naturally things start to go wrong from the moment the helicopters enter the island’s airspace, and over the course of the movie characters are killed off in increasingly gruesome ways while the jukebox soundtrack does its best to distract from the horror and keep things cheerful. Kong: Skull Island serves as a new origin story for King Kong that establishes him as a more or less a good guy/ape – fighting to keep the island’s population of nastier monsters in check, and protecting the natives who live there.

However, the MonsterVerse was conceived at around the same time that Warner Bros. was planning Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the MCU was gearing up for Captain America: Civil War, so we can once again look forward to seeing (sort of) heroes battling it out in 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong. The movie’s synopsis didn’t offer any real insight into the source of Godzilla and King Kong’s disagreement, but let’s face it: whatever reason they come up with is just an excuse to have Godzilla and King Kong smash each other into some buildings.

More: Every Upcoming Godzilla Movie

2019-03-14 01:03:00

Hannah Shaw-Williams

Awesome Live-Action PUBG Short Film Debuts from Kong: Skull Island Director

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is finally coming to PlayStation 4, and they have released an epic live-action trailer to prove it. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the trailer is comprised of just over two minutes of hilarious, action-packed goodness. Vogt-Roberts may not have the longest Hollywood CV, but he has taken a considerable leap in recent years. Following his directorial debut – 2013’s indie, festival darling The Kings of Summer – the young director is best known for helming the second installment of Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise: Kong: Skull Island. Opting to move away from that world, Vogt-Roberts has since turned his attention to adapting Metal Gear Solid for the big screen.

Commonly referred to as PUBG, the fellow video game property was first released in 2017. Inspired by the popular Japanese film, it kickstarted the Battle Royale genre of games, selling over 5 million copies in three months. A version of the game was eventually released on Xbox One. However, it has been frequently plagued by performance issues, bugs, and aggressive monetization tactics, including insanely expensive DCEU skins. Despite that, and the fact it has since been surpassed by Fortnite in terms of popularity, PUBG still boasts a solid fanbase. In an effort to reclaim and expand on that base, the game will next release on the PS4. Although many fans were pleased with the announcement, there are also those that consider the move far too late.

Related: How Jordan Vogt-Roberts Plans to Make Metal Gear Solid Great

In celebration of the imminent launch, a trailer was released on the official PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds YouTube channel. Although billed as a trailer, the video plays more like a short film, with Vogt-Roberts’ big screen sensibilities shining through. The video stars Nick Robinson and Jason Mitchell, who previously worked with Vogt-Roberts on Kings of Summer and Kong: Skull Island, respectively. After parachuting into a real-world version of the game’s environment, Mitchell is beset by numerous gun-toting threats with only a frying pan (and some perfectly punctual allies) for protection. Check it out below:

Screen Rant spoke previously with Vogt-Roberts, at San Diego Comic-Con, regarding his inspirations for Metal Gear Solid. He also shared his thoughts on video game adaptations in general. Believing that movies have a tendency to absorb elements from games, Vogt-Roberts opposes the view that there are no decent video-game films. Citing Snowpiercer and Edge of Tomorrow as examples, he believes that such adaptations work best when not directly adapting them.

That belief can be seen not only in Metal Gear Solid concept art but this new short film-style trailer. Nothing seen in the trailer can actually be executed in the game, after all. Well, except wiping out your opponents, that is. Instead, the trailer retains the general themes and concepts represented in the game. It also emphasizes the epic, tense, and amusing scenarios that can arise in the game – all of which serve to make the genre so addictive. With a big screen Resident Evil reboot coming, Hollywood isn’t giving up on mining material from games. Thankfully, Vogt-Roberts is helping to pave the way and show them how it’s done.

More: Battle Royale Video Games Could Make $20 Billion Next Year Alone

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is available now on the PlayStation 4, as well as PC, Xbox One, and mobile devices.

Source: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds



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2018-12-07 05:12:28

Wonder Woman Does The Unthinkable To Save DC’s Magic

Warning: SPOILERS For Wonder Woman #56

The latest chapter of The Witching Hour crossover has seen Wonder Woman and her allies in Justice League Dark joining forces with her most powerful enemy – the sorceress Circe. Given Circe’s long-standing grudge against the Amazons and Diana, it would take extraordinary circumstances for her to put aside her legendary spite for a common goal.  Of course with magic itself dying in DC’s Universe, describing the current circumstances as “extraordinary” is putting things lightly.

Based on the character from Greek mythology, the DC Comics version of Circe first appeared in Wonder Woman #37 in 1949. The precise reasons for Circe’s hatred of The Amazons and Wonder Woman have changed several times over the years, but the most common reasons are that The Amazons were responsible for imprisoning Circe for her crimes against humanity and that a prophecy predicted that Circe’s doom would be brought about by the Amazon princess. Though she first appeared during the Golden Age of Comics, it was not until George Perez’s revamp of Wonder Woman in 1987 that Circe was redeveloped into a major player in Princess Diana’s Rogues’ Gallery. It is a position of dishonor she has held ever since.

Related: Wonder Woman Unlocks New Powers of Witchcraft

The first chapter of The Witching Hour revealed that Wonder Woman was a conduit for hereto unknown magic powers – the result of her having been branded as a child by followers of Hectate, the Ancient Greek goddess of Magic. With Zatanna having discovered the meaning of the magical brand, Justice League Dark was able to start seeking answers as to what was happening to Wonder Woman and why.

This led them to Aeaea – the island home of Circe, according to The Odyssey. It was hoped that Circe, who drew her powers from a connection to Hectate, might know something of what was going on and be willing to bargain for that knowledge.

Though she was hostile at first, Circe was mollified the moment she saw what she called “the witchmark” on Diana’s forehead. Circe went on to explain the history of Hectate and how she was truly a power far older than the Olympian gods. The first wizards tried to tap Hectate’s power for their own uses unsuccessfully, caging a far more evil source of power that would come to slowly infect the world, and Hectate herself, with darkness.

This led Hectate to take the majority of her power and split it among five mortal vessels, The Witchmarked, who would hold Hectate’s pure and unsullied essence until a time when the magic of the rising darkness had begun to fade. Then Hectate would reclaim her power to defeat it, once and for all. As each of The Witchmarked died, the followers of Hectate would find another woman to hold Hectate’s power, passing her energy down from generation to generation.

The problem, Circe reveals, is that the passing years have corrupted Hectate’s mind and she is now a being born of spite and hatred rather than love and light and it was that desire for revenge that made Circe into a perfect avatar for Hectate’s power. The practical upshot is that while Hectate may be capable of fighting the rising darkness, she will forever destroy magic as it is known on Earth, with no magical power but her’s existing. This leaves Justice League Dark with few good options, as Wonder Woman seems doomed to die no matter what and the best option involves all magic being under the control of a single vengeful goddess. Of course all this assumes that Circe is telling the truth and this isn’t part of her own plan for revenge on Diana.

Wonder Woman #56 is now available from DC Comics.

More: Say Goodbye To Magic in DC’s Comic Universe



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2018-10-11 01:10:54 – Matt Morrison

Godzilla Vs Kong Movie Casts Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry

Brian Tyree Henry is set to join the cast of Godzilla Vs Kong. Legendary is getting into the cinematic universe game with the MonsterVerse and are building towards their big crossover in style. Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla launched the universe in 2014 and was followed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ ’70s-set Kong: Skull Island. They’ve now established the two monsters, but are giving Godzilla a sequel next year to further set up their upcoming confrontation. That will happen in the appropriately titled Godzilla Vs Kong, directed by Adam Wingard.

The crossover movie has been getting itself into position to start filming, which was previously reported to start at the beginning of this month. There’s so far been no indication that this has actually happened and it would be difficult to do so without the entire cast set. The biggest star so far is Millie Bobby Brown reprising her role from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Related: Godzilla Just Swam to Skull Island According to Monarch’s Website

Variety now reports that Emmy-nominated Atlanta actor Brian Tyree Henry is joining the cast of Godzilla Vs Kong. There’s no details about who he will be playing, only that it is described as a “significant” role. This could make him either a hero or a villain in the larger story, both of which Henry’s shown the ability to succeed in.

Henry is best known and recognized for his work in FX’s Donald Glover comedy/drama, and has only continued to line up future projects. He was already seen this year in smaller roles in Hotel Artemis and White Boy Rick, but has three more movies coming out by the end of the year. Supporting roles in Widow and If Beale Street Could Talk have already put him on the receiving end of great critical praise, while he’s also providing the voice of Miles Morales’ dad in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He still has a third season of Atlanta, Amy Adams’ drama The Woman in the Window, Melissa McCarthy’s comedy Superintelligence, and the Child’s Play reboot in his future as well. Now that we can add Godzilla Vs Kong to his upcoming filmography, Henry will continue be someone audiences become very familiar with.

The cast of Godzilla Vs Kong extends beyond just Henry and Brown, though. The movie also brought Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Deadpool 2 star Julian Dennison on board earlier this year. There were even rumors that Black Panther‘s Danai Gurira was being eyed for a major role in the movie, but that has yet to be confirmed. Even if that doesn’t pan out, the movie is off to a great start with its casting. None of the stars may be certifiable box office draws just yet, but that’s why a battle between Godzilla and King Kong is at the center of the film. And, who knows, by the time Godzilla Vs Kong arrives in theaters, the constant exposure Henry is getting could make him a major selling point.

MORE: Godzilla Vs Kong: Every Update You Need to Know

Source: Variety



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2018-10-10 05:10:45 – Cooper Hood

18 Best Sequels, According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%)

We live in an age where sequels are all the rage. Every major studio is chasing those franchises that can keep their cash flow healthy for years to come. Sometimes, they’re exhausting. Other times, they can be our most anticipated movies. Maybe we could do without more Transformers movies, but Marvel and Mission: Impossible sequels are event movies that drive us to the theater in droves.

Sequels are tricky and unpredictable, though. On one hand, they’re often necessary for expanding stories and the good ones continue sagas we want to see progress. On the other, some are soulless cash grabs that shouldn’t exist. In the worst cases, some of them completely derail promising franchises by failing to deliver the goods. Then again, in some instances, sequels can get a series back up and running after they’ve experienced setbacks.

This list will look at those rare sequels that are considered worthy — and even superior — follow-ups. Those rare beasts that make us grateful for multiple movies in a series. Furthermore, we’ll also be discussing the most maligned sequels that brought no critical good will to their respective franchises whatsoever. It’s more fun this way. In order to fully appreciate the best of the best, we also must acknowledge the worst of the worst. Without evil, we wouldn’t be able to understand all that’s good and pure. Without terrible movies, we wouldn’t be grateful for the good ones.

With this in mind, here are 18 Best Sequels According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%).

26 Best: Captain America: Civil War (91%)

The decision to keep the same team of writers for all three Captain America films paid off in the end. The trilogy just went from strength to strength with each passing entry, though some would argue that The Winter Soldier is equally as good — if not better — than Civil War. Either way, they’re both prime examples of how to do sequels right.

Civil War tackles the same themes you’d expect from a movie about a do-gooder like Cap, but where the film truly soars is during its wild third act. The airport showdown is the best action showdown in the MCU, and that’s saying something.

25 Worst: The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (0%)

If you didn’t know that sequels to The Bad News Bears exist then no one would think any less of you. While the first movie is a cult classic about an underdog baseball team, the sequels have faded from the collective memory with the passing of time, lost like tears in the rain. That’s for good reason.

None of the sequels are good, but The Bad News Bears Go To Japan is especially bad.

While the idea to relocate to Japan for a big game is good on paper, the sequel is just bland, forgettable, and was made to cash in on the brand name.

24 Best: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (93%)

Some fans argue that The Force Awakens is essentially a retread of A New Hope in many ways. However, clearly the critics and audiences didn’t necessarily agree, given its stellar Rotten Tomatoes score and its audience score of 87%, not to mention its impressive box office haul.

As far as Star Wars movies go, it hits the spot. The new characters are great, the return of some old faces is a trip down memory lane, and the story still made significant effort to push the franchise forward. In those regards, the film definitely succeeded.

23 Best: War for the Planet of the Apes (93%)

Anyone who has a problem with classics being rebooted needs to watch the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy.  The finale pits the apes in a brutal battle against the humans, which leads to an epic confrontation between the Caesar the Ape and humanity’s ruthless colonel (played by an utterly wicked Woody Harrelson). As far as concluding trilogies goes, War for the Planet of the Apes has everything.

By no means is this a pleasant movie, but it is rewarding. And not only does it wrap up an epic story, but the film boasts some of the great CGI wizardry out there. The action is also ridiculously impressive and compelling, which is crazy considering it’s a movie about people versus monkeys.

22 Best: Logan (93%)

James Mangold’s Logan, the gloriously violent and heartbreaking farewell to Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, is an all-timer. Taking cues from the Old Man Logan comics, the movie has just as much in common with neo-westerns as it does with superhero yarns, which makes for a gritty, character-driven elegy to characters many of us grew up with.

Logan deserves praise for going R-rated and taking some stylistic risks.

The movie is proof that audiences will still flock to see superhero movies with some edge. If you’re going to send off some icons, this is the way to do it.

21 Worst: Return to the Blue Lagoon (0%)

Considering that no one liked The Blue Lagoon (it currently holds a 9% rating on RT), why anyone would want to return to the franchise is beyond comprehension. Of course, every sequel is a perfect opportunity to right some old wrongs if handled with care. Unfortunately, this was not. The story follows two children who are marooned on a tropical island as the grow up and fall in love, etc. The characters don’t wear enough clothes either, which makes for some weird, uncomfortable viewing.

There are some unintentional laughs to be had at the poor script and performances.

Otherwise the Blue Lagoon isn’t a scenic cinematic paradise worth spending time in unless you want to punish yourself for some reason.

20 Best: The Dark Knight (94%)

Few superhero movies are ever regarded as anything more than popcorn fare. However, if there were ever a superhero movie that proved the genre could be prestige cinema, it would be The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman is an exploration of chaos and just how far people are willing to go to achieve their goal.

The Dark Knight — for better or worse when you consider how devoid of fun some DC movies have been since — also brought a gritty, realistic touch to the genre. The movie feels more like a Michael Mann crime saga than it does a story about superheroes versus their outlandishly evil counterparts.

19 Best: Finding Dory (94%)

In recent times, Pixar has been criticized for relying too heavily on sequels, but if it ain’t broke… Finding Dory was released 13 years after Finding Nemo, and it was a smash with critics and audiences alike.

Its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes is complemented by an 84% audience score.

Upon release Finding Dory was praised for being as funny and thought-provoking as the first movie, while also adding a new dimension to the story. As with any Pixar movie, Finding Dory can be appreciated by audiences of all ages. 

18 Worst: Staying Alive (0%)

No other actor on the planet has experienced a career of ups and downs like John Travolta has. When he broke out he had the world at his dancing feet. After that, his career experienced a downturn until it was resurrected briefly following Pulp Fiction until it ultimately plummeted when he started starring in movies like Battlefield Earth. Staying Alive was released in 1983 when Travolta was experiencing his first fall from grace. Following up a classic like Saturday Night Fever was never going to be easy, but it shouldn’t have been this difficult, either.

The sequel lacks the gritty realism of its predecessor, and instead tries to get by on dance sequences. What’s the point in dancing when we don’t care about who’s doing it?

17 Best: Creed (95%)

No franchise tends to remain compelling seven sequels in, but Creed is proof that the Rocky franchise is the rare exception. Granted, some Rocky movies aren’t exactly knockouts, but Creed got things back on track and showed that it’s game for a few more rounds.

By serving as both a sequel and a spin-off/soft reboot, Creed gave the franchise a breath of new life.

It passed the gloves on to Michael B. Jordan as the eponymous character.  Creed 2 is right around the corner. Let’s see if it can do what the original saga failed to do and deliver a second outing that’s as good as the inaugural entry.

16 Worst: Leprechaun 2 (0%)

The first Leprechaun movie doesn’t come close to being certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it should come as no surprise that the sequels didn’t receive any critical acclaim. Especially not the second movie, which no critic seemed to enjoy at all.

Here, the infamous critter resurfaces in Los Angeles to find a bride, which leads to him abducting a young woman and trying to claim her as his own. This isn’t high art by any means, nor does it try to be.

15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (96%)

The Harry Potter books were an emotional roller coaster that affected millions of readers worldwide. Reliving those adventures on the big screen was also a great time to be alive, and the grand finale lived up to expectations. In the final installment of the saga about the Boy Who Lived and his fight against the forces of darkness, the ultimate showdown finally happens as our hero and his pals face off against Voldemort in Hogwarts castle.

It’s a true epic in every sense of the word.

As far as wrapping up the story goes, Death Hallows: Part 2 delivered the goods and gave us cinematic closure in style.

14 Worst: Looking Who’s Talking Now (0%)

Look Who’s Talking is a perfectly serviceable comedy that should never have received any sequels. In a bid to end to the trilogy on a high following the disappointing previous sequel, Look Who’s Talking Too, someone thought it would be a good idea to introduce talking dogs to the mix for the series’ swan song. 

Needless to say, Look Who’s Talking Now wasn’t the glorious goodbye the series was looking for, but at least the film did cast some cute dogs.

13 Best: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (97%)

The third installment of Sergio Leone’s influential Dollars trilogy, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is the creme de la creme of spaghetti westerns. 

The story centers around two men who form an uneasy alliance following a scam.

This leads them on a quest as it turns out there’s money buried in the desert and they want to find it. However, they have to compete against another who won’t hesitate to put a bullet in them to claim the prize. On top of being one of the most acclaimed movies out there, the film has been hailed as a major influence on directors like Quentin Tarantino.

12 Best: The Godfather: Part II (97%)

The continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Best Picture-winning 1972 crime saga, The Godfather: Part II chronicles Michael Corleone’s further ascendency in organized crime while simultaneously taking us back to the past to explore his dad’s humble beginnings.

Like its predecessor, the sequel also won Best Picture and is hailed by many a critic and film buff as one of the best movies ever made. Whether it’s better than the original is up for debate, but they’re like two sides of the same coin. These movies set the bar for mob pictures, and to this day, other directors are still trying to recreate the formula.

11 Mad Max: Fury Road (97%)

Director George Miller was in his seventies when he unleashed Mad Max: Fury Road, but the energy and madness imbued in every frame of this extravaganza suggest a man half his age.

Maybe we’ll never see another Mad Max movie, but the world needs a Furiosa spin-off eventually.

Fury Road is essentially one non-stop chase that barely lets up from the get-go all the way to the climactic ending. Furthermore, it’s a movie that defied expectation by taking the focus away from the titular character and making Charlize Theron’s Furiosa the real hero of the adventure. 

10 Worst: Jaws: The Revenge (0%)

Is Jaws: the Revenge a good movie? Definitely not. Is it an entertaining movie, though? Definitely yes.

How many other movies have sharks that make a conscious decision to get revenge on the humans that wronged them? Not only that, but the shark here followed its target to the Bahamas from Massachusetts. And why would someone who wants to avoid sharks go to an island surrounded by ocean? The movie is illogical, silly, nonsense, but it does offer sheer entertainment value for bad movie buffs.

9 Best: Aliens (98%)

Alien and Aliens are quite different in some regards, but they complement each other perfectly. The first is an exercise in pure suspense and terror. The sequel, on the other hand, retains the horror elements but adds a lot more action to proceedings.

Aliens shows how to make a successful sequel: acknowledge what came before but don’t be afraid to bring some fresh ideas to the table.

James Cameron was on fire in the ’80s and he wasn’t afraid to make Ridley Scott’s baby his own.

8 Best: Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (98%)

While George Miller’s inaugural Mad Max caper is a cult classic, most film buffs would agree that a couple of the sequels are slightly superior. Taking nothing away from the first movie, Road Warrior is a vast improvement when it comes to world building and sheer action spectacle. The story follows the eponymous character as he helps a group of people steal oil from a tyrannical madman and his band of goons.

As far as cinematic thrill rides go, few movies are on par with Road Warrior. Here, Miller turned up the volume significantly by making the post-apocalyptic terrains feel more dangerous and the action sequences more gung-ho and grander in scale.

7 Best: Evil Dead 2 (98%)

Sam Raimi’s first Evil Dead movie was a huge achievement for independent filmmaking when it was released back in 1981. The movie still holds up to this day with its innovative camera work, effective scares, and excellent cast as well.

The sequel is a triumph in its own right.

While the first movie contained moments of dark comedy, the sequel amps up the zaniness to become what is essentially the splatter flick equivalent of a Laurel and Hardy flick. For 90 minutes, Bruce Campbell is tormented by laughing ornaments and his own severed hand. As silly as that sounds, Evil Dead 2 still manages to pack more punch than your average MMA fighter.

6 Worst: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (0%)

In the third installment of the Police Academy franchise, the cops are understaffed and in need of some help. Naturally, the force turns to America’s civilians to help aid in their mission. Things don’t go smoothly, for the characters in the film and the movie itself.

Rotten Tomatoes describes Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol as “Utterly, completely, thoroughly and astonishingly unfunny” and  a movie which sent “a once-innocuous franchise plummeting to agonizing new depths.” That sounds about right.

5 Toy Story 3 (99%)

Few franchises manage to strike three home runs in a row. Even The Godfather stuttered when it came to the third outing. Toy Story, on the other hand, never ceases to replicate the magic time and time again.

This emotional installment sees Andy get ready to leave for college and neglect his old toys.

He’s all grown up and has no use for them anymore, and what ensues is what is by far the most heartfelt movie in the series.

4 Worst: Highlander II: The Quickening (0%)

As far as pure entertaining action-fantasy goes, the first Highlander movie is a fun slice of popcorn entertainment that aficionados of cult cinema lose their head over. The sequel, meanwhile, is an incomprehensible mess.

Highlander II is too overplotted to explain, but the cusp of the story revolves around the hero from the first movie taking on a corporation after being led to believe that they don’t have the world’s best interests in mind. In this one, our hero is a defender of the ozone as well. What makes Highlander II so awful is that it completely retcons everything good about the original film and the mythology it introduced.

3 Best: The Bride of Frankenstein (100%)

We all desire to be loved by someone special– even bolt-head monsters made up of the remains of other people. But to find them a mate, one must dig up some more corpses and create a suitable partner that’s similar in genetic make-up. This is also the storyline behind James Whale’s 1935 masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein.

There are too many Frankenstein movies to keep track of at this point, but this sequel remains the pinnacle of the original series.

The movie is a masterpiece that successfully blends campy fun with Gothic beauty and genuine chills that’s stood the test of time as a result.

2 Paddington 2 (100%)

No one expected the the first Paddington to be as good as it is. That movie is a bona fide classic in the making in its own right, but the sequel is some next-next level brilliance.

Paddington 2 sees the lovable bear go to prison and, unsurprisingly, all the mean criminals fall in love with him as well. Critics, like the fictional convicts, were also full of praise for the titular bear and his second big onscreen adventure as well. At one point, Paddington 2 was even the best reviewed movie in history.

1 Best: Toy Story 2 (100%)

Following up a movie like Toy Story was never going to be easy, but that didn’t stop Pixar from trying and succeeding. In this one, we find out that Woody is a collectible when he’s discovered and stolen by a greedy museum owner. Naturally this prompts Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato, and the rest of the gang into action and they set out to save their friend.

General consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states that Toy Story 2 is that rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor.

The sequel raises the stakes and ups the element of adventure while retaining the humor and heart that made audiences fall in love with the franchise in the first place.

What’s your favorite sequel? Let us know in the comments!



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2018-10-10 04:10:39 – Kieran Fisher

22 July Review: Paul Greengrass Delivers Another Intense Docudrama

Despite some general storytelling issues, Greengrass succeeds in delivering another well-crafted and intelligent docudrama-thriller with 22 July.

In-between his efforts on the Bourne movies, journalist-turned filmmaker Paul Greengrass has spent much of his career making docudrama-thrillers about real-world events, ranging from the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. (United 93) to the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009 (Captain Phillips). While there’s an inherent risk of exploiting a real-world tragedy that comes with any such project, Greengrass has long been celebrated for his ability to dramatize terrible events on the big screen in a manner that’s intense, yet sensitive and ultimately insightful in its presentation. Thankfully, that remains the case with his Netflix Original 22 July, even if it doesn’t necessarily represent the writer/director at his finest. Despite some general storytelling issues, Greengrass succeeds in delivering another well-crafted and intelligent docudrama-thriller with 22 July.

22 July picks up on July 21, 2011 in Oslo, Norway, as Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) – a self-declared right wing extremist – prepares to carry out a terrorist attack on the city the next day. He begins his assault by setting off a bomb in a van near the main office of the then-current Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth), killing eight people in the process. Breivik then proceeds to continue his attack by gunning down 69 members of a summer camp organized by the AUF – the youth division of the Norwegian Labour Party – on the island of Utøya, before he is ultimately apprehended by the police and taken into custody.

Among the members of the summer camp is one Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), who manages to survive Breivik’s attack despite being shot multiple times and left permanently maimed. As Viljar struggles to recover both physically and psychologically from what happened to him (along with everyone else who survived the Utøya shootings and their loved ones), Breivik works with his chosen lawyer Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden) to mount a defense and use his trial as a platform to publicly announce his political agenda (which calls for the immediate deportation of all Muslims and heavier restrictions on immigration to Norway, among other things). When it becomes clear to Viljar what Breivik intends to do, he grows increasingly determined to continue his rehabilitation and testify against him in court for not only himself, but also every other person whose lives were affected by what took place on July 22.

Adapted from the book One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — and Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad, Greengrass’ script for 22 July has a very clear-cut three act structure – with the first act focused on the July 22 attack, the second part set during its immediate aftermath, and the final third centered on Breivik’s trial. The film is strongest during its first and third acts in particular, as those chapters (respectively) play to Greengrass’ strengths as a suspense-thriller storyteller and provide the emotional payoff to Viljar and, thus, Norway’s overarching journey of recovery and survival. It’s the second act where things start to drag and get a little muddled, especially as 22 July splits its focus between not only Viljar’s story thread, but also Lippestad and Breivik’s trial preparation, and the investigation into Stoltenberg’s administration and its failure to prevent a terrorist attack. While there’s nothing in the second act that feels inessential, 22 July struggles to divide its attention evenly between its three plotlines and the film’s pacing suffers for it.

On the whole, however, 22 July does a nice job covering a fair amount of narrative ground, even when taking its pretty substantial runtime into consideration. It helps that Greengrass (as he’s known now for doing, as a director) never fully lifts his foot off the gas pedal and keeps the film’s proceedings feeling on-edge throughout, even during its more purely dramatic portions. The filmmaker, working this time around with DP Pål Ulvik Rokseth (The Snowman) and Oscar-winning Argo editor William Goldenberg, uses essentially the same vérité cinematography and restless editing style that he has on his previous movies, in order to fully immerse viewers in the film’s setting and action. At the same time, Greengrass slows things down a bit here and, in turn, delivers a movie that’s more visually cohesive than some of his weaker efforts in the past (see the last Bourne sequel, in particular). This serves 22 July well, allowing it to effectively work as both a grounded drama and thriller.

Given the sheer amount of information that 22 July strives to cover, though, there’s not a lot of room for the film’s actors to really shine – not in the way that Barkhad Abdi and Tom Hanks did in Captain Phillips, for example. Even so, the 22 July cast is uniformly strong across the board, with Gravli especially doing an excellent job of portraying Viljar’s struggles with his physical injuries, PTSD, and the sheer amount of emotional baggage that he’s saddled with after barely managing to escape the attack on Utøya with his own life. Actors like Thorbjørn Harr and Isak Bakli Aglen are similarly moving in their smaller roles as members of Viljar’s family, as is Seda Witt as Lara Rashid, a young woman who starts to make a romantic connection with Viljar before both of their lives are shattered by Breivik’s attack. As for Breivik himself: Lie is quite compelling in the role and portrays the terrorist as a fully-developed person – one whose rationalization of his behavior makes him chilling and pathetic in equal measure.

As with his previous films, Greengrass uses 22 July as a means for delivering larger sociopolitical commentary about the state of things in the world, specifically where it concerns the rise of xenophobic and nationalist ideologies in various countries (the U.S. included). While his scripted dialogue can start to become a bit on the nose as its strives to get these points across (especially in the third act), Greengrass largely succeeds in allowing the story here to shine a light on these issues organically, without getting up on his figurative soapbox to drive the point home. If there’s a downside to the filmmaker’s approach, though, it’s that July 22 winds up handling its subject matter in a way that’s more engaging intellectually than emotionally and, thus, lacks the emotional resonance of Greengrass’ best work to date.

All things considered, however, Greengrass does a very good job of bringing the true story behind 22 July to cinematic life. The final result is a film that makes for an enlightening and otherwise respectful documentation of a horrifying real-world event, rather than one that comes off as exploitative or manipulative. 22 July is showing in select theaters now – in order to qualify for next year’s major film awards shows – and it certainly benefits from being seen on the big screen, but can still be appreciated just as much as a Netflix Original on your home TV. While it’s obviously not a light-hearted viewing experience, 22 July is very much worth checking out if you’ve enjoyed Greengrass’ previous non-Bourne efforts and/or would like to know more about Norway’s own infamous modern terrorist attack.

TRAILER

22 July is now available for streaming on Netflix and is playing in select U.S. theaters. It is 143 minutes long and is rated R for disturbing violence, graphic images, and language.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!



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2018-10-10 01:10:22 – Sandy Schaefer

Assassin’s Creed: 20 Things Only Experts Know How To Do In Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – the latest installment in Ubisoft’s wildly popular video game franchise – has finally landed on shelves. Set in Ancient Greece, Odyssey gives players the opportunity to assume the role of a mercenary from either Athens or Sparta, and to take part in a mythology-infused recreation of the Peloponnesian War.

The game features an even greater emphasis on the RPG elements first introduced in its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and boasts multiple endings that are triggered by the player’s actions. Odyssey also sees the return of the controversial Hitbox combat engine which debuted in Origins – albeit in a significantly enhanced form. Thanks to these and other challenging core mechanics – not to mention the daunting size of the game’s virtual environment – Odyssey should prove suitably tough for more casual gamers. But for seasoned veterans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise? Not so much.

Indeed, gamers who have followed the series since the very first entry way back in 2007 aren’t likely to struggle. On the contrary, we expect them to flourish, putting to good use the skills and knowledge they’ve gleaned from the past 11 games in the series – not to mention the six spin-off entries – to finish the main quest in record time.  This will leave them free to start focusing on tracking down Odyssey’s hidden Easter eggs, secret areas, and other bonus content clueless rookies don’t have a chance of tracking down unaided.

Here’s a list of 20 Things Only Experts Know How To Do In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

20 Find The Legend Of Zelda Easter Egg

Of all the many classic video game franchises, few are as unanimously beloved by both gamers and developers alike as The Legend of Zelda series. The team at Ubisoft clearly rank amongst this iconic Nintendo series’ admirers – as the easter egg they tucked away in Odyssey proves.

In a tip of the hat to the most recent Zelda instalment, Breath of the Wild, a Korok – a small humanoid figure made out of clay, flower petals and twigs – can be found on the Pandora’s Cove coastline. Although this hidden tribute is now the most well-known Easter egg in the game, experts had no trouble tracking it down on their own within mere days of Odyssey’s release!

19 Achieve The Secret Ending

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey marks a dramatic change in direction for the franchise – from purely action/adventure outings to something closer to an action/RPG hybrid. This is reflected in how important the player’s actions are to the game’s overall narrative, and in particular, how that narrative reaches its climax.

Indeed, what the player decides to do – or just as importantly, say – will determine how events unfold next, and ultimately determine which of the game’s multiple endings they achieve.

Most players should be able to reach at least one ending.

If you complete every side quest and make all of the right decisions to unlock the secret, ultra ending, ensuring the best possible finale for your mercenary.

18 Visit Atlantis

As soon as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Ancient Greece setting was announced, fans immediately began speculating over whether the fabled lost city of Atlantis would be part of its virtual environment. The good news is that Ubisoft hasn’t missed a trick, and Atlantis does indeed count among the many sunken locations scattered across the game’s humongous map. The bad news? It’s highly likely that only experts will be capable of uncovering the most eagerly anticipated (not to mention coolest) secret area in Odyssey.

The steps involved are extremely taxing, requiring players to traverse treacherous terrain, solve fiendish riddles posed by the Sphinx and dispatch a bevy of mythological horrors like Medusa, the Cyclops and the Minotaur!

17 Recruit Legendary NPCs Early

Over the course of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players can enlist NPCs to serve as crew members aboard their ship, the Adrestia. Recruiting a high calibre crew is a great way to upgrade the Adrestia – so the trick is to bring legendary NPCs into the fold. Casual gamers will wait until they unlock these characters by completing quests, however experts are aware of a hidden mechanic that speeds up the whole process.

There’s a less publicized gameplay mechanic which enables you to recruit legendary NPCs by defeating them in combat using non-lethal takedowns.

Better yet, once your ship’s roster is made up entirely of legendary NPCs, you unlock the “Argonauts” trophy, too!

16 Regain The Cyclops Eye

One of the most frustrating moments in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey arrives early on, when you’re forced to give up the Cyclops’ Eye during Sequence 1. It’s not exactly the most classy of disposals, either: to put it bluntly, you squeeze it up the rear end of a poor, unsuspecting goat. If you’re scratching your head over this last revelation, then just trust us: it makes sense at the time!

Rookies will write off the Eye as a lost cause, but experts up to speed on the game’s secrets won’t give up so quickly. By engaging in an exhaustive goat-hunting expedition in Kephallonia, they’ll recover this valuable artifact, earning the dubious “Stink Eye” achievement, as well.

15 Change Their Ship’s Figurehead

Long-time fans of the series will recall that in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you could easily customize your ship’s decorative figurehead as part of the normal upgrade process. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that carries over to Odyssey – and only expert players are likely to work out the secret method of doing this.

For starters, you need to defeat a boss – not exactly a walk in the park itself, by the way – and then behead them.

Once this has been take care of, if you scroll through the inventory of ship upgrade options, you’ll see your new souvenir listed. Select it, and voila! The Adrestia will have itself a brand new (and rather creepy) figurehead!

14 Track Down All Of The Cultist Clues

The underlying mythology of the Assassin’s Creed franchise incorporates several shadowy organisations – and Odyssey is no exception. The latest entry in the series introduces the nefarious Cult of Kosmos, and players aiming to get the most out of game’s story need to track down and eliminate key members of the group. In order to do so, they’ll have to swap their mercenary’s helmet for their detective’s cap, as the cultists’ whereabouts are only revealed by clues sprinkled through Odyssey’s sprawling Ancient Greece setting.

Some of these hints can be uncovered with little effort, whereas others will prove elusive to all but the most seasoned of gamers!

On the plus side, all of this running around pays off, as only players who chase down every single cultist will get to experience the game’s whole story.

13 Unlock Evie Frye

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – the ninth video game in the main series – is headlined by twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Of the two siblings, Evie is arguably the more memorable – which is probably why she’s an unlockable character in Odyssey. Now, before you get too excited, bear in mind that Evie is a legendary NPC, so you won’t get to play as her directly.

Still, it’s incredibly cool to recruit her as a crew member on your ship, provided you’re an Ubisoft Club member with enough XP to afford her. See, unlocking Evie requires players to part with 7,500 XP in exchange for the “Master Assassin” badge, which only long-time fans of the franchise will have amassed!

12 Access Battle Royale Mode

Battle royale games like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds are currently the hottest thing on the block. Making the most of modern online multiplayer capabilities, games in this genre pit a pack of players against each other in thrilling, last-man-standing contests.

Obviously, this stands in stark contrast to the single-player, open world experience offered by Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – until experts stumble across the “Call to Arms” sidequest. Found by scouring the island of Melos, this mission – which requires skilled players to wipe out 99 consecutive enemies – represents a thinly-veiled attempt by Ubisoft to acknowledge (or should that be “cash in on”?) the popularity of the battle royale genre!

11 Find The Black Panther Easter Egg

Black Panther is currently the second highest grossing film of 2018, and with that success comes a considerable fanbase, too. At least some of the developers at Ubisoft fall within that category, if the Black Panther Easter egg included in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is anything to go by. As experts will have no doubt already discovered, the game contains a fairly faithful recreation of Black Panther’s two most notable scenes: the duels that occur at the base of a waterfall.

This is staged at the Gortyn Waterfall, where players can first spectate on the melee using Eagle Vision.

That’s not all, though: it’s also possible to clamber up the cliff where the fight is going down, and actually confront the pair of brawlers yourself!

10 Discover Sam Fisher’s Goggles

So far we’ve focused solely on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Ancient Greece setting – which disregards the fact that certain sections of the game are set in a present day safe house. Anyone unfamiliar with the franchise’s convoluted (some would say downright insane) science fiction elements, just trust us when we say that this does make sense.

Regardless of whether or not you buy into this more far-fetched aspect of the Assassin’s Creed mythology, there are multiple Easter eggs to dig up during these segments. Not all of these relate to the franchise either – just ask the experts who’ve unearthed the iconic, three-lensed night vision goggles worn by Sam Fisher, the protagonist of Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell games!

9 Stumble Across The Sword In The Stone

The team at Ubisoft has done a remarkable job of recreating an utterly convincing (albeit wildly fantastical) rendition of Ancient Greece in Odyssey. This awesome attention to detail is reflected in almost every aspect of the virtual environment, particularly the character and weapon design. We say “almost”, because at least one item experts will undoubtedly come across whilst roaming the game map definitely does not fit the time period depicted: the Sword in the Stone from Arthurian legend. Fortunately, this gag is an intentional mistake on the developer’s part.

Unfortunately, you can’t remove this legendary blade from its Lakonia resting place.

That’s a real shame: historical accuracy be damned – there’s always a place for Excalibur in our armory!

8 Locate The Rabbid Figure

Another easter egg squirrelled away in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s modern era safe house setting, the Rabbid figure is hard to spot if players blitz through these sequences. However, experts tend to favor a more methodical approach – even when confronted by the franchise’s moments of less than engaging gameplay.

These long-time campaigners will cast their eyes over every inch of the safe house, which means snooping around each room, no matter how empty it appears to be. This will eventually lead them to the shelves of a particularly untidy room. Here, they’ll spy the Rabbid toy – a cute shout-out to Ubisoft’s all-ages Rayman franchise, accompanied by a line of dialogue (“Bwaah?”) associated with these bunny-like characters.

7 Acquire The Epic Unicorn Skin

It doesn’t matter what mythology we’re talking about: unicorns are invariably treated as an incredibly rare species. Certainly, this carries over to the world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where players can indeed transform their horse into one of these awe-inspiring creatures – provided they can get their hands on a unicorn pelt.

They sport an eye-watering 6,400 Drachmae price tag!

Rookies who are feeling flush will plump for either the Black Unicorn or undeniably amazing (though sadly, non-flying) Pegasus skins, purchased with real-world cash from the Ubisoft Store. On the other hand, genuine experts prefer to earn their keep, and will trawl merchant stalls for the appropriately named, randomly-spawing Epic Unicorn skin, which leaves rainbow hoof prints.

6 Home Town Pride

The developers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey hail from Ubisoft’s Montreal headquarters, based in Quebec. Like the citizens of any city or town, these guys and gals are proud of the place they call home – so much so that they managed to sneak a Quebec-related easter egg into the game!

It’s something that will almost certainly go unnoticed by less observant gamers, but experienced players – the type of people who scan the entire game environment for secret material – will discover a travel magazine whilst rifling through the safe house. The destination this mag is promoting? Why, Quebec, of course! True, it’s not exactly the most exciting bonus content in Odyssey, but it’s a nice touch all the same.

5 Put The Arena Spikes To Good Use

A key trait which separates veteran Assassin’s Creed players from newcomers is the willingness of the former to experiment with their surroundings. Take the spikes that dotted around the Arena in Odyssey.

Rookies will probably dismiss these as mere set dressing and completely ignore them once the fighting breaks out.

Don’t expect experts to make the same mistake, though. Already clued up on just how interactive the game worlds in the franchise can be, these gamers will immediately identify the potential for the spikes to deal damage to their opponents. The next thing you know, the edges of the Arena will begin to resemble a shish kebab vendor who trades in skewered would-be gladiatorial champions!

4 Reminisce About The Frye Twins

It turns out Assassin’s Creed Syndicate isn’t the only instalment in the franchise to take place in London – Odyssey does, too. True, the vast majority of the game is set in Ancient Greece, but its modern era sections unfold in London, something that won’t come as a shock to more attentive players.

After all, just by gazing out of the safe house windows, you can take in a decent view of London’s famous skyline, with what tourists would recognize as Big Beg especially prominent. What’s more, if you allow yourself a moment to properly contemplate the sight before your eyes, you’ll even trigger a line of dialogue that references Jacob and Evie Frye, the lead characters in Syndicate!

3 Discover All Of The Underwater Locations

As you might expect from a virtual environment that recreates the entire Aegean Sea, Atlantis isn’t the only submerged area on the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey map.

The ocean floor of Ubisoft’s vision of Ancient Greece is littered with dozens of hidden locations brimming with valuable treasure.

Anyone prepared to embrace their inner Jacques Cousteau will be in for a real treat. That said, given the sheer amount of exploration required to pinpoint all of these sunken locations – fun fact: at 130km², Odyssey’s map is 62% bigger than the already massive world of Origins – we’d wager only experts will visit all of them.

2 Get All Of The Other Endings As Well

Sure, everybody wants to get the best possible Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ending – you know: the super secret, totally awesome one we mentioned earlier. Even so, part of being an expert is also having a completist streak, which is why we think they’ll figure out how to achieve Odyssey’s eight other possible endings, as well.

This might not sound like much, but it’s actually quite a feat, for two main reasons. First of all, this game is absurdly long – the main quest alone clocks in at 40 hours of gameplay – so repeating it again and again is no picnic. Secondly, they’ll need to ensure they get every single word and deed right, in order to arrive at their desired conclusion!

1 Climb Up The Naked Statue

Full disclosure: this entry is unashamedly juvenile in nature, given it revolves around players scaling up a male statue and dangling from part of its anatomy (three guesses which part). Regardless, we’re positive that even the most mature expert will decide to do just that, when they pass by this landmark early on in Odyssey – honestly, it’s just too hard to resist.

You’ll be rewarded for your childish antics if you do.

Performing this act initiates a wry line of dialogue from the player’s mercenary, which just goes to show that Ubisoft definitely predicted this becoming a thing. Although to be honest, they hardly needed the talents of one of Ancient Greece’s oracles to foresee it!

Did we miss out any other things that only experts know how to do in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? Let us know in the comments!



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2018-10-09 06:10:21 – Leon Miller

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Beginners Gameplay Tips

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is here, and it offers up something of a different experience from the previous games in the series. Rather than the stealth-based gameplay of old, Odyssey doubles down on the RPG mechanics, becoming a huge, deep open world game for players to enjoy. In essence, it takes what worked from Assassin’s Creed Origins and makes it even better.

The end result is a fantastic take on the Greek myth, albeit one that sometimes struggles a little to bridge the gap between open world RPG and its roots in the larger Assassin’s Creed universe. Nonetheless, those changes could leave some players a bit confused as to where to start, and after working through the opening island of Kephallonia things could become a little bit daunting.

Related: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – How To Get The Best Ending

That said, there are some ways to make the most of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from the get go. After all, there’s lot to get to grips with before taking on Medusa or hunting after all those legendary armor sets. Instead, here are some tips for how to take up what Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has to offer fast.

Choose Exploration Mode

The most important first choice to make comes before the player even starts the game. When given the option, it’s highly recommended to choose Exploration Mode as the method of play. This is the way that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was designed to be played, and for good reason; the additional level of emphasis on discovery is a delight to play, and much more fun than simply following map markers to reach objectives.

Effectively, Exploration Mode works by making the player find their own way through quests. NPCs will give hints towards locations to be discovered when talking about the mission in question, forcing players to use a little of their own intuition. This mode also makes map exploration much more fun, with the player finding random locations as they work their way around the regions hunting down quests.

Exploration Mode also means players will make the most out of eagle companion Ikaros. The eagle is not only able to scout out discovered locations, but also target enemies and notable items within specific locations, such as chests or hostages to release. Finally, remember to seek out Synchronization points to boost the power of Ikaros overall.

Think About Crafting Over Cash

Whether armor or weapons, it’s easy to find loot in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. As such, when players notice they have plenty of unused items sitting around in their inventory, it’s extremely tempting to drop them all off at a nearby blacksmith and make a bit of drachmae.

That said, it’s probably best to hold fire of cashing in. That’s because drachmae are not in short supply in the game, and can be picked up from completing quests, in explored locations, or from dead enemies. Instead, consider breaking down weaker weapons and armor into leather, wood, and metal, as these can be useful as crafting for upgrades to the player’s ship or even to beef up items at a blacksmith.

It’s worth bearing in mind that drachmae are needed in a couple of places in the game, and it’s always worth keeping some around in case of having to pay off a bounty to keep mercenaries off the player’s trail when it’s better to lay low. Nonetheless, put money on the back burner, and instead think about how best to boost the overall power of the misthios.

Choose Your Abilities Wisely

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has a fairly comprehensive skill tree, but there are some abilities that are better to unlock than others. As explained in our guide to the best abilities to unlock first, There are a few essential abilities, with the Sparta Kick being useful from a warrior perspective alongside beef ups to the assassin skill tree such as Shadow Assassin.

Overall, though, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gives players the greatest level of flexibility in how they choose to play that the series has seen so far. It’s perhaps best to pick and choose skills based on what works for the player in question, providing they keep enough core skills in each area to make sure they can get out of trouble whatever the situation.

Remember you can always change your choices as well, albeit at a cost. A few drachmae allows the player to reset all of their abilities, so if some skills are found to be less useful than others, it’s easy to drop them and rebuild the character from scratch.

Take To The Waters With Style

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes the series back to the high seas, and it’s something that is long overdue. With gameplay reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the core way to travel between the different islands is to take to the Adrestia and hop from island to island seeking adventure.

Even though a lot of the gameplay takes place on land, it’s truly beneficial to upgrade the ship regularly. This could mean recruiting new lieutenants, which helps both with buffs to the ship’s power and when boarding enemy vessels, or improving things like rowing power or damage caused by ranged attacks. It comes at a cost in terms of drachmae and consumables, but it’s worth it in the long run.

This is because it’s all too easy to get into scraps with pirates, Spartan or Athenian vessels when out at sea. Naval combat is extremely good fun, but when outnumbered it’s much better to have more firepower onside, and it’s always satisfying to take out those Cult of Kosmos members who happen to captain a ship of their own.

Revel In The Game World

It may feel like an obvious rule to follow, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is much more fun if taken at the player’s own pace. The title’s story is a compelling, personal adventure that (generally) ties well into the larger plot of Assassin’s Creed, but the game perhaps works best with the player following their own path and doing what’s most fun to them.

As such, it’s important to stretch your legs in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Between the Conquest Battles, side quests and other additional smaller elements of the game at large, there’s no reason to purely stick to the main quest. This is something the game expects, too – there’s no real reason to grind in the game, providing players make good use of the enthralling, extra content available to them.

Perhaps the best examples of this are the game’s mercenary system, which leads to some excellent one-on-one fights with fearsome combatants, and hunting down the Cult of Kosmos. Although the cult ties into the larger plot as a whole, hunting down smaller members is a fantastic element of the game, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Those are just a few tips to help players make the most of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. However, with a game as expansive as this, players are best suited to decide how best they want to play the game. Regardless of how they choose to enjoy the title, there are bound to be some surprises along the way.

More: Every Assassin’s Creed Game Ranked



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2018-10-09 03:10:13 – Rob Gordon