Suicide Squad – Review

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

The events of “Suicide Squad” come in the aftermath of the finale of the previous film in the DC movie universe, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” As it opens, we find various villains from the DC comics wasting away time in prison. They won’t remain their long, however. Amanda Waller, one of the higher-ups in the U.S. government program A.R.G.U.S., has designs to put together a group of expendable metahumans and super criminals. This group would theoretically be designed to fight back if the next Superman turns out to be a bad guy (and do the dirty work of the government in the meantime).

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Waller finds a great deal of resistance to the idea, but the task force is fast tracked when Midway City suddenly finds itself under threat.

Can these killers and misfits work together under duress to defeat the threat? Can they actually ever be controlled? What aren’t they being told? What will happen when they find out?

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

The film is very much a comic book film, with kooky characters, powers, abilities, and raucous action. It is aimed at people who enjoyed “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” while also trying to widen the net to a larger audience by including more humor and “edginess.” DC fans generally will enjoy seeing characters they know from the comics and animated series on the big screen. What awaits to be seen is if they will enjoy the way the characters are portrayed, and the story that they have been placed in.

The film is designed to be more humorous and fun than “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and it is made to be a summer blockbuster. People who are looking for more in-depth character studies, or interesting themes, should probably look elsewhere.

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

There are some people who will absolutely hate this movie. They have some good reasons for their hatred. “Suicide Squad” has many flaws. It has choppy editing and storytelling, with poor flow between scenes. It has an inconsistent tone that flits between humorous, lighthearted action and over the top drama. It has occasional characterization missteps, and often underutilizes characters, like Jared Leto’s Joker, and there is some wasted potential from the core concept.

All of those flaws pale in comparison to the poorly conceived plot and unfortunately chosen villain. The nature of the villain, the evil plan, and the story’s very basic and stereotypical plot all undermine the film and its promise. This film could have crafted a distinct identity for itself, and the trailers made it seem like it was going to do that, but in the end it is just another typical superhero film, with the exception that the “heroes” are bad guys.

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Still, there are things to like in the film. While there are design missteps, I mostly looks terrific with well-made costumes, and an interesting and distinct visual flare. The soundtrack is terrific, and while the tracks do not always pair well with what is happening on screen, when they do it just feels right. The cast is great, and each actor is well selected to play their part. The performances are spot-on from all of them, but especially Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

There is a lot of crap to sift through to get to the good bits. I would never say that this is a great film, but did I have a good time at the theater? Yes, I did. It may not be a film to go gaga over as I had hoped, but it is worth a rental. It is an enjoyable enough movie to watch. More than anything, however, it is fun to see these characters on screen. I enjoyed “Suicide Squad,” despite the myriad valid reasons why it is an objectively weak movie, so in the end it is really just a…

Guilty Pleasure

If you want to know more about my rating systems, check out what each rating means HERE.

If you enjoyed this review, keep on reading for “The Long Take” which goes into more detail, but avoids major spoilers, and “Spoiler Talk,” where I can and will talk about anything I like. Don’t forget to support me on Patreon!

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Warcraft – Review

 

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

The film begins with the orcish horde, a military collection of tribal clans. Within the horde we find Durotan, a young orc chieftain, who is accompanied by his wife and their unborn child. The horde, under the command of the warlock Gul’dan, makes preparations and sacrifices needed to cross through a dark portal to escape the imminent destruction of their home world, Draenor. This portal takes them into the world of the seven kingdoms, where live humans, elves, dwarves and other races, and where peace has reigned for many years.

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The orcs bring war with them. Upon their crossing, upon the orders of Gul’dan, the orcs begin to wage a guerilla campaign against the humans. As they pillage, they capture villagers for sacrifice in order to open the dark portal again and bring the full extent of the clans into Azeroth and claim the world as their own. Durotan, meanwhile, begins to have reservations about the methods and goals of Gul’dan.

All of the forces of Azeroth, the country the orcs first invade, are put to the test to figure out what is happening and how to stop it. In Ironforge, a dwarfish city, commander Lothar is summoned to Stormwind to discuss the strange attacks and plan how to thwart them. A young mage named Khadgar has found signs of “fell” magic, demon magic, in these attacks. Khadgar recommends they seek out the guardian Medivh.

Will they figure out the truth in time? Even if they do, will they have the strength to fight the might of the horde? These two factions, orcs and humans, collide in “Warcraft.”

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

When you have a film filled with orcs and humans wielding weapons in a medieval setting, it’s obvious that anyone who doesn’t enjoy fantasy will be turned off immediately. However, there is an in-genre distinction to make. Even with a serious tone, the colorful and cartoonishly-proportioned characters and armor, as well as the generous use of magic, means this film will only appeal to people who not only like fantasy but can also accept the more outlandish elements of this film’s design and storytelling. As much as it might like to be Lord of the Rings, it’s not. I mean, we are talking about magical floating cities, portals the size of skyscrapers, and orange and green orc warriors – each built like the Hulk – after all.

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Beyond this distinction, fans of Warcraft, especially fans since the original real time strategy title “Warcraft: Orcs and Humans,” will find the most to latch onto here. The film doesn’t shy away from its lore, and it drops names of people and places so fast that many die-hard fans might have a hard time keeping up.

That isn’t to say that people unfamiliar with Warcraft lore can’t enjoy the film. The film takes place near the beginning of the game lore of the Warcraft series, meaning this is as good a jumping on point for someone unfamiliar to Warcraft as any. The question is, how well do the filmmakers accomplish providing a good and clear movie narrative?

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

I’m not going to beat around the bush. This film has a lot of flaws. Pacing issues drag it down, especially near the beginning. While there are maybe two good performances, the rest of the acting varies from just fine to very bad. Some plot elements are vague to a fault. The CGI occasionally looks iffy, and the world doesn’t feel particularly lived-in.

Despite these flaws, there are many good things about the film as well. While the pacing is way off, the plot itself is fairly straightforward and understandable, though there are a few points that could have used some more set-up or payoff. Tragedy can and does strike the characters of the film. Sometimes this happens in unexpected ways, and the story doesn’t shy away from violence and consequences.

Durotan is a great character, and we spend a lot of time with him. While the other characters aren’t as engaging as Durotan, many are at least likeable or interesting in their own ways. Lothar in particular nears Durotan in terms of engagement. Also, Gul’dan makes for an effectively vicious villain.

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The action is generally strong. The fights feel real, in the sense that the sound direction makes every impact feel weighty and painful.The CGI is obvious, but once you get used to it, it’s actually pretty good, and it only ever interferes with immersion once or twice. Even if you’re never emotionally touched, this is a perfectly good popcorn spectacle.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit – more than it deserves, even. While I might personally buy it as soon as it comes out, I can’t deny that “Warcraft” won’t be worthwhile for most people. In the end, it’s just a…

Guilty Pleasure

If you want to know more about my rating systems, check out what each rating means HERE.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – Review

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

Some time has passed since the turtles last fought Shredder. Vern Fenwick has taken all of the credit for their victory, as they had agreed, in order to preserve the anonymity of the turtles. Shredder remains in custody, and things have largely settled down.

That peace doesn’t last long, however, as the Foot Clan, under the direction of the goofy scientist Baxter Stockman, puts a plan into motion to break Shredder loose. As bad as that is, another force just as sinister but  even more powerful, has intentions of world-domination. This film follows the turtles as they fight to put an end to the machinations of all of these villains, even while coming to terms with conflict between the brothers themselves.

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

You might think that this film is aimed at children because of the whole “mutant turtles” thing. It’s not, really. The characters, dialogue and plot are straight out of a kid’s cartoon. However, the action, while bloodless, is a bit much for little kids. Meagan Fox is highly sexulized in at least one scene. Some of the character designs are meant to be scary in appearance on a level that little kids might find too much. Depending on how any given set of parents decides to raise their child, the language is also more adult than they would expect to see in a kids movie.

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This film is aimed primarily at adults. A very particular kind of adult – one who grew up loving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That means adults who love the characters and their relationships and the cool action scenes, but it also means adults who might put up with stereotypes, cliches, cheesy dialogue, and over-the-top plots that barely cling together. This is the only group who will let the rest of the film’s sizeable flaws slide at all.

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is a vast improvement on the first film, and it does it mostly by embracing the franchise’s roots as a cartoon. Unfortunately, that same tactic is also a source of the film’s many flaws.

The filmmakers mostly nail characterization, and they put the focus where it should be all along: The turtles. Each of our half-shelled heroes are given time and dialogue to be who fans expect them to be. The new addition, Stephen Amell, has the most non-turtle screen-time as Casey Jones, but Megan Fox and Will Arnett’s characters are mercifully turned into bit-players this time around. Unfortunately, the script didn’t give Amell much to work with, and he just doesn’t come across as the Casey Jones fans remember.

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The best thing about the movie is the action sequences. The early convoy escape and chase was fun and delightfully cartoony with the turtle van sporting some crazy weapon-systems. The fight that begins with the planes in the sky and continues all the way down a raging river is just about perfect and had me grinning the whole way through.  

However, in between the action sequences, the film bogs down. The action resembles the cartoons, but the plot and dialogue both resemble cartoons as well. The script writers didn’t do a good job with the interpersonal relationships, and plot points jump from one to the next haphazardly, making little sense along the way. Exposition is everywhere, and motivations are thin. For every moment I enjoyed, there was a moment of eye-rolling stupidity and childishness.

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The worst thing is, many of the conflicts built throughout the film, like the siblings’ conflict and the ambitions of Shredder, are tossed aside with poor resolutions. Instead we are given a showy but shallow fight in the sky that carries no weight or emotional connection outside of fanboy nostalgia for seeing a villain that has never been on the big screen before. The whole last act is unsatisfying.

If you can completely turn off your brain, there is some enjoyment to be found. However, while this sequel is much better in many regards than it’s predecessor, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” just goes…

2.5-3 Rating - In and Out

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

 

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

Following the events of “Man of Steel,” the United States government sets out to determine to what degree Superman should be held accountable for the destruction and loss of life in Metropolis during the invasion of General Zod. Lex Luthor Jr. doesn’t need an investigation, however, as he already made up his mind and firmly believes that Superman is a menace. Batman similarly believes Superman is a threat and begins planning for how to deal with him. The tension between Superman and Batman, as amplified through the machinations of Luthor, leads to direct conflict between the two legendary heroes. Who will come out on top – the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight?

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

You would think saying that this is a comic book action film would make it fairly clear who this film is aimed at, but that doesn’t really work this time around. I’m torn over deciding who this movie is for.

Comic Book fanboys will probably not be pleased with some of the character modifications in this film. They will say it betrays the characters in the exact same manner they said “Man of Steel” betrayed them. Casual comic film fans, meanwhile, might find the very grim and dark tone to be off-putting, especially if they bring their children. Regular film-goers might find the lack of background for some characters confusing, and there are plot issues and obscure comic-book references that would further cloud their experience.

I think this film is for people who can accept that this is Zack Snyder’s unique vision, which includes some variation on classic characters and a gritty tone, who want action and spectacle, but have no burning desire for humor or deep characterization in a comic book film. I think these people will be relatively few. Almost everyone else will find something to dislike, and, if I know the internet, there will be some who actively hate it.

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

I liked this movie. I think this will be a controversial statement. Those that hated it will think I’m stupid for not seeing how bad it is. For a lot of people in the middle, they will just be slightly disappointed, but not offended. They will forget it shortly afterward. For the few people who truly loved this movie, they will think I’m way too picky. In the end, though, for me, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is good.

The film has excellent actors doing a great job with the parts they are given. I completely buy into these actors as these characters. Henry Cavill is a great Superman. Gal Gadot is a convincing Wonder Woman. Ben Affleck, whom everyone was worried about beforehand, is a scene-stealer as Batman. While I don’t agree with Snyder’s choice for Luthor’s characterization (I can’t stand it, actually), Jesse Eisenberg still does justice to that choice.

There are cool action scenes that are impacting and enthralling to watch, even when some turn into a CGI fest. The motivations, while thin, make sense. The music works well. The costumes are cool. Batman has just the best toys, you guys. There is plenty to like.

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There is plenty to dislike as well. While the main characters are good, they are thinly portrayed. What they are given is a script that is overstuffed, slim on character building, and poorly stitched together. In fact, some plot elements are poorly explained to the point that they feel like plot holes, even if they aren’t. Some of the side characters are pathetically written. There is a lot of wasted potential.

Still, in the end, I feel that “Batman v Superman” had enough good to outweigh the bad. It was flawed, and it didn’t live up to what it could have been, but there was still plenty to enjoy. In fact, when it comes out on blu-ray, I think…

4.0-4.5 Rating - I'll Take it!

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Deadpool – Review

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The Premise:

This Ryan Reynolds passion project brings to life the Marvel comic book character Deadpool, the merc with the mouth, a hideously scarred joke-machine anti-hero. The character Deadpool is half the premise in and of himself. He is a fourth-wall breaking comedian with swords and guns. The movie exists not to serve up a novel story or grand idea, but so that Deadpool may exist.

That being said, there is a story here. Wade Wilson is a wise-cracking mercenary with a heart who falls in love with a prostitute named Vanessa. Just when it looks like they will live a happy life together he gets the bad news that he has rampant cancer throughout his body and little time left. When all seems lost, a mysterious organization arrives promising to not only cure his cancer, but give him miraculous powers.

Wade takes the chance and goes with them only to find that, while they do plan on curing him and giving him powers, they have a nefarious purpose to sell him as a super powered slave to the highest bidder. Wade gains his powers but at the cost of his appearance. Before he can be collared and sold, however, he makes an escape attempt, destroying the facility in the process. What follows is Wade’s revenge crusade as the masked “Deadpool” against the people who made him.

 

The Short of It:

This film is not for families with children. “Deadpool” is crazy violent, vulgar, sexual and revels in it. Do. Not. Take. Children. To. This. Movie. If you do, you are a bad parent, fullstop.

That being said, Deadpool is a hilariously fun action flick for adults. The plot and villain may be standard, but they all serve to highlight Ryan Reynolds’ infectious titular character, Deadpool, and act as suitable targets for his wacky humor. The action is fast paced but easy to follow, the humor is relentless and almost always earns a laugh, and through it all the movie manages to have more heart and passion than many other superhero movies. If you crave quality R-rated humor and action, I highly recommend that you go see Deadpool.

 

The Long of It: Continue reading

“The Revenant” – Movie Review

 

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The Premise:

Hugh Glass and his son, Hawk, are fur trappers in the wilderness of the unsettled Louisiana Purchase working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company under the command of Captain Andrew Henry. The enterprize disintegrates when the group meets hostility and violence from the local Native Americans. Having to abandon their goods, the survivors begin a perilous trip back. While scouting ahead, Glass is savagely mauled by a bear and barely survives. His companions patch his wounds and try to travel with him but find it impossible. They leave Glass behind in the hands of his son and his fellow hunters Jim Bridger and John Fitzgerald, to heal or be buried when he dies.

Fitzgerald, a self-centered racist of a man, kills Hawk and tricks Bridger into abandoning Glass to die in a shallow grave. They then proceed back to the fort. Glass, however, is not dead and has vengeance in mind. What follows is a harrowing tale of survival and revenge across the American wilderness.

 

The Short of It:

This is an intense movie, done with an artistic style and a sense of poignancy. The plot is interesting and captivating with a satisfying conclusion, carried by excellent performances by everyone involved, but none more so than Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass. It is not “fun,” and it is not packed with action. If you go into the film expecting that, then you might very well be bored. However, if you go in on the film’s terms and can handle violent imagery, it is highly entertaining. I recommend it.

 

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“God of War III” Review


Kratos’ Long Awaited Console Finale is a Tragedy of the Right Kind.

Aug 9, 2010 – Kratos’ journey of revenge, which began back in 2005 on the Playstation 2, final comes to a bloody end on the Playstation 3. The complete story arc has taken five years to come to its conclusion, and the distance between the second and third entries are telling. God of War III is a technical marvel, with fantastic graphics, polished combat and impressive scale, showing every possible advantage that time has given the team at Sony Santa Monica. But the game also shows the weaknesses of that time difference in its story. God of War III, while full of epic set-pieces, has a story that largely feels like God of War II.V (ha, a roman numeral joke!) while simultaneously separating the player from the main character, making Kratos a largely unlikable, unsympathetic protagonist.

God of War II left off at a cliffhanger (literally,) forcing God of War III to pick up immediately afterward as the Titans ascend the face of Mount Olympus with Kratos riding shotgun on top of Gaia. While this sort of beginning jump-starts the action and introduces the player to God of War’s massive fantasy world, it also ensures that God of War III will have to struggle to find its own identity, as it rides entirely on the wave of God of War II. The second game left the players wanting more, but the wait has been long and the connection required to care about the story has dissipated. Any player wondering if they should play God of War II again right before starting the third game, wonder no more. It is a must if you want to get anything else out of it.
The game manages to find its identity, not through interesting storytelling, but through its sense of scale, which dwarfs the previous games’ already considerable weight in this area. Kratos feels like an ant crawling across the arms of giants, and it is awe inspiring. However it is also shallow, and after the impressive visuals wear off, there is little real story telling to back it up and make it memorable.

Yes, the little thing between the fingers is Kratos.


Part of what made Kratos an interesting protagonist in the first two games was how the player felt sorry for the guy, what with being betrayed at every step and all he’s lost. God of War III’s storytelling lets the player forget that element of the character until near the very end. By that time, you’ve been carving up the gods for blood sport and the connection between player and Kratos is all but lost, as you witness him do horrible things in the name of his revenge. Even as the world crumbles around him, he never stops to think about the consequences of what he is doing. If his family’s spirits are (presumably, based on Chains of Olympus for the PSP,) in Elysium, then what happens to them when he causes the Underworld to collapse so thoroughly? These are the kinds of things he never thinks about.
That’s not to say there aren’t interesting story elements going on. The parallels between Hephaestus and Kratos are interesting and tragic. Kratos’ protectiveness of Pandora is understandable, though it feels out of character. The end sequence especially focuses on storytelling, and while it does so admirably (it is my favorite sequence in the whole game) it feels out of place in the jagged and broken character arc of Kratos.

The story of Kratos (theoretically) has come to its end (you know, aside from prequels and stuff.) Like a classic Greek tale, this is a story about tragedy, more bitter than sweet. The final stretch of the game is a marvelous bit of storytelling, full of symbolism and mystical imagery fitting of the Grecian roots of the game’s narrative. At least, up until the very end, when there is a twist of thematic messages that doesn’t sit right with my sense of what was happening. While it ties together certain elements of the overall story, the ending revelations are clichéd and almost moralizing which clashes spectacularly with the rest of the narrative.

But it has giant horse-water-crabs!


But aside from the story let-down, the game is masterful at what it does, which is to say unbridled violent action. Nothing is quite as cathartic as carving through a horde of skeleton warriors; a truth which has only proven more so since the first God of War did it so well half a decade ago. The combat is incredibly smooth, much more so than its predecessors, and there was never a moment when I felt like I didn’t have options in battle. The distance grab is an absolute game changer, and charging while using an opponent as a battering ram gives Kratos more mobility on the field of battle than he ever had before. Being able to cancel out of almost any attack to block or dodge is a great help, but just as important is the new item bar below the health and magic bars. The fact that objects like Apollo’s bow, Helios’ head, and Hermes’s Boots don’t rely on the magic meter, and quickly recharge, is a god send. I found myself using many more items and weapons in this God of War game than all the others.

I Need Your Head Please. Thank You.


Speaking of weapons, this is the first collection of optional weaponry (outside of the Gauntlet of Zeus on the PSP) to feel useful. I would find myself switching weapons depending on which enemies I was fighting because some were better suited to the task than others. The Nemesis Whip proves effective against the annoying Satyrs, the Namean Cestus (while not as good as the Gauntlet) prove to be devastating against large forces and some of the otherwise stronger foes. Still, Kratos’ classic blades (called the Blades of Exile this time around) are the best for most situations and you will find yourself returning to them when you want to make sure things get done right.

I Need Your Death Blades Now, Please. Thank You.


Magic seems to take a bit of a back seat this time around, but that may simply be because the various abilities aren’t much use outside of the Army of Sparta. Not to mention having to switch weapons to use whichever spell you want feels clumsy. The Quick Time Events, on the other hand, are handled much better by assigning each button press to the side of the screen that matches its placement on the game pad. Square to the left, X on the bottom, O on the right and Triangle at the top. This allows the player to watch what’s going on on screen more easily, and be much more likely to succeed, but I do wish they had made the images of the buttons larger.
The light puzzles that have always been a part of God of War are mostly well done here, with the one real standout being Hera’s Garden which is M.C. Escher-like in the way it warps reality. There is a music rhythm game, however, (no I’m not kidding) that feels out of place. Not so much because it’s a music rhythm game (though it isn’t everything it could be either,) but because it incorporates the Playstation face buttons into the world itself. The end result is very fourth-wall breaking and a detraction overall from the experience. While the puzzles are generally still not as good as previous games, they don’t truly disappoint either.

You'll get to know Gaia VERY well.


There’s not much to say about the graphics outside of the fact that they are gorgeous. Kratos is one of the most detailed character models I’ve seen in a game, and the enemies are also well made and gruesome. Little things, like the guts spilling out of a centaur’s belly and the dangly bits from the head of Helios, sell the game world as realistic as can be at this point in console graphics. The score is as epic and mood setting as it has ever been in the series and the menu theme still echoes in my mind whenever I think about the game.

And the Imagery is super cool.

Closing Comments:

God of War III is a fantastic game in many respects. There simply aren’t many action games that come anywhere near this caliber of combat, graphical prowess and design. If all you are looking for is an excellent action game with lots of production values, then there is no question you should buy this game, and you should bump my score below up by half a star. If, however, you were looking for a satisfying story to conclude Kratos’ tale of revenge, this game only partially delivers, distancing the player from Kratos until the end, and what comes is, while excellent, too little too late. I recommend you seat this game in your Parthenon, but keep your expectations in check. God of War III still sits on the throne of action games, no question. But when compared to the satisfying narratives of other games it is a lesser god.

STAR RATING: (4 Stars)

For those of you who stuck around after the rating, I’ve got a new segment for you that I’m debuting here called Spoiler Talk. It’s a segment that will appear periodically after certain reviews (of any type, be it film, game or book) in which I discuss what I thought of certain elements of the story that is too spoilerish for the main review. What I say here doesn’t ever trump my review, instead it might give insight into what exactly made me give something the score I did. So let’s get started.

Spoiler Talk:

When it comes to God of War you know you’re going to be doing a lot of killing. It kinda comes with the territory. And we know that Kratos is kind of a dick. We knew that ever since he sacrificed that guy in a cage to the flames back in God of War I. But the level of blood letting in GoW III is crazy. There isn’t a person you meet whom you don’t kill at some point in the game. Well, except Athena because, oops, you already killed her last time. Kratos even kills the person he suddenly decides he doesn’t want to kill, Pandora. Yeah, she reminds him of Calliope, but I don’t think that would stop him for too long, especially with her insistence on giving her life up and Zeus being a clear and present danger to both of them.
It’s this element of the story that really bugs me about the revelation at the end of the game, that Kratos is the vessel for “Hope.” He’s a vessel for slaughter, revenge, mercilessness and hatred. The idea that Hope is the power that he’s been running on for so long is silly in context. Hope for what? Hope that he would kill Zeus? I guess. But that’s a poor connection. He sure doesn’t exhibit hope of bringing his family back from the grave, or makin the world a better place or anything else.

Hope Will Rip Out Your Eyeballs!


The whole idea of Hope being a weapon sealed away with evil in Pandora’s Box strikes me as ridiculous and clichéd. It’s nearly M. Night Shyamalan in its moralizing wackiness. And then the fact that Kratos’ death gives that “Hope” to all humanity to use as they will is just as clichéd. It’s another story explaining the death of mysticism and fantasy and the rise of science, reason and Western Civilization. Blah. It’s been told better elsewhere. It’s not that God of War couldn’t have done it, but they would have had to portray Kratos differently throughout the story. They simply didn’t support their conclusion with any kind of character build up or arc.

If the whole “Hope” silliness had been removed, it would have been a great Grecian tragedy. The scenes leading up to the end are all fantastic, with the scenes where Kratos is running in near darkness with only his lantern to guide him are extremely well done and artistically striking. I don’t think I’ve yet played a game that explores the character’s mind in such an iconic fashion, using color, sound and general art design to wonderful use. If the game had featured more sections like this, especially near the beginning of the game (right after falling back into Hades would have been an excellent spot,) I would likely have remained somewhat sympathetic and connected to Kratos, even as he ruins the world around him.
The other revelation at the end I wasn’t too keen on was Athena’s switcheroo to manipulative bitch. A part of me suspected it, and hoped it wasn’t Athena but something posing as her, but in the end my suspicions were proven true. This invalidates a lot of the past few games and takes away one of the last sympathetic characters of the God of War world.

My last qualm with the game’s story was the sequence after the credits where it is strongly hinted at that Kratos is still alive. Not only is this wildly inconsistent with his massive chest hole and mortality, but also with the tragic themes. He should stay dead to lend weight to the events of the games. Maybe if it was later reveal that his dead body was dragged away by something or someone else… well, that might prove interesting.
Ultimately I was left unsatisfied by the storytelling, but that is not to say there weren’t some things about it I liked. It just isn’t as good as God of War I and II. A better game? Yeah. A better story? No. Of the three, this one has the weakest story.

– Edward L. Cheever II