The Top 10 Games of 2017

I’m just copying and pasting what I wrote on Twitter so that there’s something for people on Facebook to read.

10. Night in the Woods


I have yet to finish this game. Mostly because it resonates so strongly with me that I have to take breaks. That feeling a testament to its writing and character, and is a must play.

9. Pyre


Supergiant does it again with a magnificent tale where its themes of loss work directly into the gameplay. It has one of the strongest soundtracks in gaming, delivering one of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced all year.

8. Hollow Knight

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2017 was an amazing year for video game soundtracks and Hollow Knight is a big reason for that. Alongside that is a wonderfully crafted art style, accompanied by gameplay that mixes Dark Souls, Zelda, and Castlevania.

7. Persona 5

persona 5

Persona 5 has a lot of issues. The third act is horribly paced, and its treatment of certain issues is BAD. Even so, there’s an amazing sense of style, punctuated by a jazzy soundtrack, and filled with fun characters that I genuinely felt friendships with.

6. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

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No game has been more aware of when it’s coming out than Wolfenstein. It’s story will be timeless due to the current political climate. It goes places games are terrified of going and nails the landing. I only wish it was a bit more fun to play.

5. Resident Evil 7

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More of an evolution of the form instead of a return to it. Resident Evil 7 takes the first person perspective and uses it to great advantage while blending in a sense of old school Resident Evil.

4. Battle Chef Brigade


Easily the best surprise of the year. It doesn’t stick the landing, but the first four chapters of the game are some of the most pleasant I’ve played in a long time. Its characters are charming, the art is adorable, and it’s more fun than you’d think.

3. Horizon Zero Dawn


I loved this world. It was so much fun to explore and see the combination of high science fiction robots and low end tech. It was a beautiful looking game with one of the best written stories this year.

2. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds


Easily the most fun I’ve had in a multiplayer game in years. This game has made me laugh like I never have before. This game has made me feel fear and anxiety like I never have before. No other game has left me shaking after winning a round.

1. Nier: Automata


Despite its shoddy combat, Nier uses its mechanics to compliment its themes and story in ways games have never considered. It feels like all aspects were thought of in order to create a clear, concise work of art. It also has the best soundtrack of 2017.

Honorable Mention: Tekken 7


I would have EASILY had this game on my top 10 if I played it before submitting my list for the end of year. Tekken 7 honors its 20+ year history with a fun, but heartfelt story that does its best to bring its Shakespearean tale to a close.


Stranger Things Season 2 Review

**WARNING: Full Spoilers Below**

When we open on season two of Stranger Things it’s a year later. Everyone is still trying to move on from the events of last season. Mike can’t get over Eleven, the Byers family is still trying to get passed what happened to Will, and for whatever reason, Nancy is still dealing with the death of Barb.

It’s because of this that the first several episodes of Stranger Things feel like an epilogue to the first season. Showing us how people have tried to move on, but failing to set up what’s going to happen in this new season. In fact, several characters get stuck in that rut for almost the entire season.

Mike for instance, doesn’t do much except whine about missing Eleven and being a brat to the new girl, Max. When he isn’t doing that, he’s being sidelined by staying near Will for several episodes. It isn’t until the last two episodes that he finds something interesting to do and contributes to the story in a meaningful way.

Which brings us to Will. Will was a mcguffin in the first season, the reason the story was happening in the first place. Now that he’s safe and back in Hawkins, you’d imagine they’d give the character room to grow. Instead Will is back where he started: a plot device. Save for a few lines of a dialogue in the first two episodes, Will does nothing but scream a whole lot. And by a lot, I mean entire episodes. By the last two episodes, Will is literally tied to a chair, a bed (twice).

Mike and Will aren’t the only characters given nothing to do for the majority of the season. Will’s mother, Joyce, continues over worrying about Will. I wish the Duffer brothers would allow Winona Ryder to make any other expression than that ridiculous wide eyed worried look that’s stuck to her face until the very ending of the show. At the very least they introduced Bob into her life (played by Sean Austin), one of a few new characters this season. Unfortunately their storyline doesn’t really go anywhere.

There was drama to be mined with Bob. How do the kids feel about their mother dating someone new? How do they feel about potentially having a stepfather? What about everything that’s gone on in the past year, how do they explain that to him? All of this is sidestepped in favor of Will Byers’ screaming. And while Bob isn’t given any room to grow as a character, he lends himself to the plot fairly well. In other words, he becomes useful as soon as its convenient and then is immediately disposed of. At least he was likeable, I guess.

Billy, older brother of Max and one of the other new characters, serves even less of a purpose than Bob does. He’s your cliche high school bully, who couldn’t give a crap about anyone else but himself. The issue is that we’re stuck with Billy being an asshole to anyone and everyone he comes across until he’s knocked unconscious by his sister. The only interesting scene he’s given is when he nearly seduces Nancy’s mother, not that it serves any purpose for either character, it’s just a fun gag.

Max is the only new character who is given a proper arc and given some real character development to work with. She’s fierce, and doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap. But she’s also alone, and doesn’t trust easily. Yet over the course of Stranger Things’ nine episodes, she learns to becomes one of the party members, and her growing relationship with Lucas is one of this season’s highlights.

The other two kids of the party, Lucas and Dustin, are given much more room to grow and contribute. Lucas finds himself steadily falling for Max, while grappling with the fact that this friend Dustin also has feelings for. The two have great chemistry and it makes for the fact that they sidelined Lucas for a few episodes last season.

Dustin, meanwhile, finds himself a little pet that manages to be something more dangerous than he could imagine. It’s this storyline that brings Steve and Dustin together in what can only be a match made in heaven. Who would have thought that these two could play off one another so well? It’s a shame that it took the show five episodes to get there.

“It’s a shame it took five episodes to get there” could be the motto of this season. Most of the story – and characters – are stuck milling around, inching closer and closer to what’s actually going on. This glacial pace would be fine if it meant we’d learn more about the characters. But most of them are stuck in place, unable to start their new arcs until almost halfway through the season.

There’s also a lack of focus. Last year, everyone was focused on one thing: looking for Will Myers. It wasn’t long before almost everyone was on the same page. This year everyone is off doing their own thing, without real knowledge of how it all ties together.

It doesn’t help that there isn’t a real villain this season. Last year we had the monster, but we also had the government scientist played by Matthew Modine. He was a presence of mystery and conflict. A human element that we could see as the antagonist. The monster itself was imposing and constituted a real threat whenever it appeared. So much so that Eleven nearly sacrificed herself in order to kill it.

Yet this year we’re stuck with the smoke monster from Lost. It isn’t until the eighth episode that we’re given some look into its motivation, but it never appears to us in the way the demigorgan did in the first season. Instead we’re stuck a herd of a demidogs (as Dustin calls them) which is not only silly looking, but kind of downplays the level of fear everyone felt from one in the first season.

This doesn’t mean it’s all bad though. Hopper’s storyline with Eleven is a direction I didn’t expect this season to take. He’s trying his best to keep her safe while also teaching her how to be a real kid. It’s tough, and it certainly isn’t easy, especially when your kid has psychic abilities. But there’s a real warmth there, which is explored until the very end, when Eleven – whose real name is Jane – officially adopted by Hopper.

Nancy and Jonathan finally stop playing around, which means, I hope, that the love triangle between them and Steve is over. Especially given that Steve spent the latter half of the season being Dad of the Nerds instead of hanging with Nancy like he did last year. It’s a more natural direction for both characters and I appreciate that the writers found something better for them to do.

Then there’s episode 7. If you’ve been anywhere on the internet you’ve no doubt heard of the seventh episode of Stranger Things being a “controversial” episode. In reality it’s what’s called a “break away” episode. Where we break away from the main plot in order to spend time somewhere else, doing something else. In this case, it’s getting back story on Eleven and her cellmate when she was a child.

The episode itself was fine. It’s nothing special. In fact, the most frustrating thing is its placement in the season. It could have very easily switched with episode six, allowing a clearer flow of action and drama. Episode six is exciting and thrilling, but that’s all tempered when we put it all on hold to watch Eleven try to discover herself.

What’s even more frustrating is that she doesn’t learn all that much. All she discovers is a “punk” sense of fashion (and I’m being generous here), and that maybe she doesn’t have the heart to kill like she thought she did. This episode could have easily been inter cut with the stuff going on in Hawkins and kept the momentum that started up in episode six.

While the first five episodes are kind of a slog, the action really picks up in episode six, and then again in episodes eight and nine. It’s here that Stranger Things begins to feel like itself again. The action swells and as a third act, it’s one of the best in television. The characters reconnect and their reunion is touching. To call some of these moments heartwarming would be an understatement. The ending is especially sweet, and will make you smile while – possibly – holding back tears.

Overall, the second season of Stranger Things is full of really low lows, and then comes back around to deliver some of the highest highs we’ve seen in both seasons. I just wish that there had maybe been an episode cut and things sized down so that there was a clearer flow and better pacing. It feels like a show that spends its first half in act one and them immediately jumps into the third act. It’s awkward and considering how well the first season was done, a bit of a disappointment.

If the question is, are the highest highs better than the lowest lows, I’d say yes. Maybe that’s all that matters.

Mindhunter Season 1 Review

**Minor spoilers ahead**When you start Mindhunter and you see the grim opening sequence beside the name David Fincher, you might think that this is going to be similar to his other work. It’s possible, you wonder, that this draws influence from movies like Se7en and Zodiac. Mindhunter starts off like it might be dark tale about the discovery of the psychology behind serial killers and how the definition came to be.

Mindhunter is nothing like this. After an interesting opening scene, it dives head first into the minutia of the FBI. How they work, why they work, and why they’re such stubborn assholes when it comes to learning new things. If nothing else, you’ll come to understand why our government works at a snail’s pace.

In case you’re unaware of Mindhunter and what it’s about it. It takes place in the 1970’s as a pair of FBI agents and a professor in psychology work together in order to identify and classify why serial killers do what they do. Essentially, it’s the beginnings of behavioral psychology and profiling in the FBI. It is in many ways, based on true stories from FBI agent John E. Douglas.

The main character, Holden Ford (played by Jonathan Groff), is nothing short of a wet fart. He wears a suit everywhere he goes, always looks confused, and is desperate to be special. It’s kind of sad to watch at first, but the show never tries very hard to make you root for him. I couldn’t stand Holden at the beginning of the show, and over the course of the show I liked him even less. What was once a meek little man became a little man with a whole load of arrogance. His arc is nothing more than frustrating. There are ways to make the audience love and hate your main character – it’s why people love antiheroes. Holden isn’t an antihero though, he’s just an asshole.

The other main characters fair a little bit better than Holden does. Holt McCallaney plays Holden’s partner, Bill Tench, a more hardened agent who really just wants to play a lot of golf. His gruff attitude is a nice anchor to Holden’s bewilderment at everything he sees. Most of the time I couldn’t help but feel like Tench was supposed to be the audience in a sense, chiding Holden whenever possible because he’s so insufferable.

Anna Torv plays their psychologist consultant, Wendy Carr. At first Wendy is a breath of fresh air, someone who provides a nice balance of professionalism to the FBI agents. Unfortunately as the show goes on, she’s given less and less to do except sit in her office and scowl at Holden’s mistakes.

Also – for whatever reason – each of the characters are given subplots about their lives outside of the FBI. Holden’s involves a girlfriend (Hannah Gross), Tench’s is about his family, and Wendy’s is about… a cat?

It doesn’t help that Hannah Gross can’t seem to emote more than a general scowl and her tone never breaks from bored indifference. This subplot runs all ten episodes and peaks in about episode seven in a scene involving a shoe. Despite that, it continues for three more episodes, dragging the audience along for slowest ride of them all.

Wendy’s story starts out rather strong. We discover that she’s gay, dating a coworker, and is forced to hide her true self from everyone around her. But then the series moves her to the FBI headquarters, and gives us scenes where she tries to feed a cat with a can of tuna. If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the rest of the series, you’re not alone.

Bill Tench is the only main character with a worthwhile story. He and his wife just adopted a son, and Bill is struggling to balance his work and home life. This is made worse by the fact that their son refuses to talk to them and they simply cannot figure out why. Bill is really the only sympathetic character in the entire show and I appreciate the lengths they went to humanize his struggles.

Like most crime shows nowadays, Mindhunter falls into the trap of having its killers be the most interesting part about it. Perhaps its unavoidable, in a way. But I found that shows like Hannibal were able to balance both their killers and their cops in a way that made them both interesting to watch.

Mindhunter on the other hand, revels in its killers. From Ed Kemper to Richard Speck, Mindhunter’s best scenes are when it lets its killers talk. Each of the four killers the FBI interviews steal their scenes, making them the highlight of the show. In fact, I’d say that the scene with Richard Speck is the best scene in the entire show.

If you were going into Mindhunter expecting another great David Fincher story about serial killers, you won’t find one here. Mindhunter revels in its slog and threatens to bore you to tears before you manage to get to anything interesting. But when it does present something interesting, its around just long enough to convince you that this show could be something. Then it’s several hours more of watching these characters that don’t matter. In terms of Netflix originals, there are better ways you could be spending your time. In terms of David Fincher projects, just go back and watch Se7en or something.

Photo Shoot With Shonnita – 7/10/17

This photo shoot was a smaller one than the ones I usually do. This is mostly because I was asked to do this photo shoot. Normally I hire models myself, but a friend had someone who needed headshots and action photos, and wanted me to shoot them.

This other reason this photo shoot was so small was because we decided to shoot around one in the afternoon on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. It was disgusting. The photos came out great, and Shonnita looked amazing, but boy it was hot. The location we chose was Walney Trails, which has a small stage they use for concerts and performance. We also made use of the stone bridge and water up near the lake.

Shonnita is a dancer, so she has a slender build, but with toned muscle. The goal was to accentuate the muscle using the natural light and the shadows. Alongside the headshots she wanted, we also took a bunch of shots of her dancing. Overall I think the idea was a success!

This was also the first time I worked with a makeup artist as part of the shooting process. So that was fun and I definitely want to keep working with one as my shoots become more “complicated” and involved. They’re a valuable asset.

I just need to make sure I don’t shoot anything at the height of the day in the middle of summer.

Full album can be found here!

Photo Shoot With Amy – 7/7/17

I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t think to do this in the first place. Why not write about my shoots, what I’ve learned from them, and the concepts behind them? This shoot is my third “official” shoot, and by official I mean I paid to have someone come out with me and take pictures.

Amy, the model, is actually someone who I’ve been messaging back and forth since I joined Model Mayhem (a kind of Facebook/job list for models and photographers). Over the course of two months, we finally found something that worked for both of us. And by both of us, I mean mostly me. Since work got in the way and sometimes I’m just really bad at scheduling.

Anyway, the shoot took place at Prince William State Forest. I’d shot their before with another model, Melanie. While leaving that first shoot, we completed the loop that makes up the basic trail and came across a small waterfall that was full of life. It was absolutely something I had to take advantage of.

So this time, heading out with Amy, we made our way out to the waterfall. Or maybe it’s more of a “rapid”. I’m not really sure what makes one different from the other… except maybe height? Either way it was amazing. The heat was intense, but the water was cool, which made shooting in the water way easier than you’d think.

One thing I’ve never really been afraid of is getting messy in order to get the kind of shots I want. The problem this time was that I didn’t realize how deep the water was and almost sunk my phone while it was in my pocket. I soaked my wallet and everything else in my pockets though. Thankfully the phone made it through in tact. Lesson learned on that one.

In terms of concept, I didn’t have anything super solid going in. For nature shoots, I tend to make it up as I go because I’m never really sure exactly what the landscape will look like when I arrive. Being able to adapt on the fly isn’t the worst skill one can have, but it can definitely make for awkward silences between you and the model while you rack your brain for the next shot.

A few ideas did come to me though. There was a tiny little alcove right near where we set up our “camp”. Part of the stream ran down into this area, creating a tiny pond. It’s one of things you must take advantage of in the moment. Thankfully Amy was super game for whatever I wanted to do and settled into the pond.


As you can see from the shot above, we were able to create some very natural looking shots. There’s something serene about being bare in a body of water. Especially this one, where Amy was enclosed by the nature around her. It was very cozy in there.

This was also my first time working with someone who was willing to take their clothes off – so to speak. Personally, I don’t find nudity to be offensive. It’s the natural state of being after all. Thankfully Amy felt the same way. She has a long history as an art model, so she’s no stranger to being nude. This helped us create our more unique shots, such as the one above.

The other major idea involved the small waterfall, obviously. We took so many shots in the rushing water, which thankfully wasn’t nearly as powerful as it looked. A lot of my favorite shots had a bit of fun in them. Either they were candids while Amy was setting up, or they were shots of her playing in the water. They added a sense of motion as well and didn’t look super serious. It’s good to alternate tone.

Lastly, I think one of my favorite shots is of Amy lounging in the center of the fall. I just think it looks incredible to see someone just sitting in the center of a waterfall like it’s a comfy chair.


The editing process is always a tough one. You spend a few hours taking roughly 500+ shots and then whittle them down to about 50 or so. I think during this shoot I took around 250 pictures and by the end I wound up with 58. My thought process in choosing which to keep and which to ditch is really what’s interesting. I try and limit myself to one (two at most) photos per pose. You don’t need seven shots of the same pose from the same angle. Hell, even different zooms don’t really make a photo look that different.

By the end though, I’m proud of the work Amy and I were able to do. Though, the style is very similar to my last shoot, which is something I need to work on. I still feel like my work is very basic. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll find a more unique style. I imagine something like that comes with time and practice???

Anyways, those are my rambling thoughts on this shoot at 1 in the morning. Hopefully it made some sort of sense to you and you found it at least vaguely interesting. I’m going to try and do this for all my shoots going forward. I doubt they’ll be as long, but I’ll try and make them as detailed as possible.

The full album can be found here! 🙂

You can find Amy at!

You can find all of my work either on Instagram or Facebook!

Redefining Creative Spaces

As writers know, there’s always that place, or spot, that helps the creative energies flow. For some it’s a coffee shop, their clean desk, or their office space. It’s somewhere you can get away from distractions and focus on your writing. Some people need music, some people need white noise, others need complete quiet.

For me, the past six years of writing has been done in college. I hated college. It was boring and very little of it had anything to do with what I wanted out of life. So I escaped to writing. I have notebooks that have been filled over the years with ideas and outlines. Everything that’s given birth to one story or another was written down during a class of some kind.

Now that I’ve graduated, things have gotten odd. I now have to force myself to find time and space to write again. Which, you’d think would be easy. But it’s quite the opposite. At classes, at the very least, I had to be there. There really wasn’t a choice in the matter (I guess there is, technically, but I wanted to graduate after all).

My room is probably the closest thing to another decent creative space. But there are tons of distractions, primarily the internet itself. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. It takes a lot more willpower than you’d think to hunker down and put “pen to paper” when you just do anything else you want.

There isn’t exactly a point to all this, just some musings on space and how it affects creativity. But a goal of mine in 2017 is to write another novel. It’s been years since I have and it’s about time I hop to it. So one way or another I’ll have to find a way to focus.

Suicide Squad Review

Imagine, if you will, two versions of a movie. Each scene is written out on note cards. One side is for the cartoony, colorful version of the movie. The other side is for the darker, grittier version of the movie. Then, for whatever reason, someone decides to put them all in the same box, and shake it violently. A single version of the movie is then made by pulling scenes from this box. One scene is from the cartoony version, while another is from the gritty version. For whatever reason, this is how the movie is made.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how Suicide Squad was made.

There’s no joke about this either. Reports have surfaced since the release of the movie that there were two cuts of the movie. One was dark, the other more cartoony. Both were tested with audiences and for some reason, Warner Bros. decided to take “the best parts” of both and create what it’s in theaters today.

Instead of anything remotely cohesive, we received a tone deaf, inconsistent movie that is fun and colorful one moment, and utterly dramatic and “emotional” the next. It’s confusing, jarring, and makes for a frustrated viewing experience. The worst part is that you can very easily tell which version of the movie each scene belongs to. That’s how different they are from each other and how jarring the shift in tone is.

Let’s start with the basics though. The Suicide Squad is a team of villains from the DC universe pulled into a black ops team by Amanda Waller. She’s afraid – understandably – that the next Superman we get might not be for truth, justice, and the American way. So she wants to build a team of people with abilities in order to combat such threats. Enter Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad.


Under the command of Rick Flag – Joel Kinnaman, doing the worst Texas accent since Chris Pratt in Jurassic World – the squad is lead through Midway City in order to combat a swirling ring of magical trash that’s started to tear the city apart. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t get more interesting than that. Nor does it get more complicated. The Suicide Squad is there to do two things: rescue someone, and kill the bad guy. Their rescue target takes about a minute or two to figure out and “twist” of who it is falls flat. The villain on the other hand, is such a non-presence that sometimes you forget there was a character there.

The movie generally lacks drama or consequences. While there is something pushing the team forward through the plot, it’s so thin and uninteresting that you don’t even care. The Enchantress, played by a very bored Cara Delevingne, does so little in the movie that she’s hardly a threat. The “relationship” between her and Rick Flag is almost existent on screen. Instead it’s told to us several times by various characters. Because that’s going to make the audience care, right? The fact that the two share only three scenes together doesn’t do them any favors. Even her brother, whose name I don’t even recall anymore, serves a role as “the big henchmen” only to disappear after a single action sequence.

The team itself is comprised of eight members. If that sounds like too many to you, then you’d be correct. Many of them don’t do anything of note in the whole movie. Slipknot – spoilers – gets murdered in his second scene in the whole movie. He’s so pointless he doesn’t get a special intro like most of the other characters. Katana has a total of four lines in the movie and doesn’t affect the plot in anyway. It’s referenced, kind of, that she might be friends with Rick Flag, but no backstory is given into that relationship whatsoever. Therefore, she’s a pointless entity within the movie. Other members worth mentioning in the pointless category are: Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang.

Less pointless are some of the main headliners. Will Smith shines in the movie as the hitman Deadshot, and even Margot Robbie manages to be bearable as Harley Quinn (even if her accent fades in and out throughout the movie). The two have really good chemistry and actually develop something of a friendship over the course of the movie. Their scenes together are easily the most interesting in the movie and it’s a shame that one of the more unpleasant elements in the movie distracted from this.


Before getting into that though, it’s worth noting that alongside Smith and Robbie, Viola Davis is perfect as Amanda Waller. She’s exactly as you’d imagine the character to be: cold, ruthless, and calculated. She’s even scarier than some of the Suicide Squad members. My hope is that, if this movie doesn’t get a sequel, she will continue to appear in other DC universe movies.

The flashbacks in the movie are an odd element. Because not all the characters get one, and not all of them are necessary. Harley Quinn receives the most attention in this department and most of them are unnecessary. Of all the characters in the movie, she’s the most well-known and needed the least amount of explaining to audiences. Instead we got three flashbacks, all that involve Joker, that don’t really add much to her character. It felt like an excuse to add more Joker into the movie, which it really didn’t need.

The Joker is by far the worst element of the movie. Jared Leto plays some kind of gangster version of the Joker that’s extremely unappealing. More offensive than that is the fact that he doesn’t do anything in the movie. If he were to be removed from the story completely, it would not affect the main plot whatsoever. There was potential there for something interesting to happen, but instead it does the exact opposite.

The action in the movie is fairly rote. It’s basically your standard fare, not making any special use of the character’s abilities or what makes them interested. Most of them are against fodder anyways, and it seems like most of the scenes were put in the movie in order to fill time. This and the flashbacks for certain characters, could easily have been cut in order to make a tighter film.

The most frustrating thing about Suicide Squad is that when it works, it works really well. There’s a good movie in there somewhere. The first thirty minutes of the movie are awesome. It’s colorful, cartoony, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The character intros that the members get are well done and fit the tone they’re going for in that moment. Unfortunately, it’s once the mission gets going that things bounce back and forth every other scene. It’s maddening that movie like this was made.

The film also includes a few cameos from other characters, mostly Batman, since most of the Suicide Squad members are Batman villains. One of the more interesting scenes in the movie is Deadshots flashback, where Batman comes to arrest him. If nothing else, this movie’s biggest crime is making me want a Batman movie where Will Smith is the villain.

Overall Suicide Squad is a mess. It’s a poorly made movie that’s made even more frustrating by the fact that there is potential there. This could have been a fun movie. But it’s a movie that symptomatic of Warner Bros. current position, and it’s unfortunate that it got swept up in all this. If you’re looking for a reason to see Suicide Squad, you won’t find one here. In fact, you should just wait until the movie is on TV some time, and you catch it accidentally.

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

I’ll just come out and say it right here in the very beginning of the review: the new Ghostbusters movie is totally worth seeing. Despite what you may have heard from angry man-children about the movie being a rip off of the original, the all female cast, or any other random “concern” they could pull out of their hats, Ghostbusters is a funny and well made film.

So there you have it. That could be the whole review. You should definitely go see this movie. But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the film, read on below. The film does a lot that’s worth talking about and I feel like I would be doing the movie a disservice if I didn’t dive into what made the film tick.

The movie opens with one of the fastest first acts I’ve seen in my life, with Kristin Wiig’s character Erin being up for tenure review at her university. She’s currently a big name physicist, but she had an “unfortunate” past with the paranormal and is now doing everything she can to hide that from her current employers. Unfortunately for her, her former best friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has put the paranormal science book they wrote up on Amazon for all to see. It’s the first thing you see when you Google Erin’s name.

So she marches down to Abby’s workplace to demand that she take the book down. But after some exposition and an introduction to Ghostbuster’s highlight character (Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann), we’re off to the races. Erin is back tracking ghosts and her estranged relationship with Abby is instantly repaired.

It’s then the movie moves into your more familiar origin story. They find their base of operations, get better equipment, and so on and so forth. Nothing about the story of Ghostbusters is necessarily breaking new ground in the story department, but it does so with heart and humor. That more than can be said for most movies these days.

The movie is funnier than the trailers give it credit for. Characters like Leslie Jones Patty and Chris Hemsworth Kevin are standouts in the film, providing a lot of the movie’s funnier moments. Hemsworth especially is adorably funny as the beefcake who thinks that covering his eyes means he can’t hear anything.

Special mention has to be given – again – to Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann. The character is easily the most “out there” of the four, but she owns that weirdness in a way that makes her incredibly endearing. The other characters don’t berate her, or get annoyed her antics. They accept her quirks and embrace them. It’s a celebration of weirdness.


It’s worth noting though, that of the main characters, Holtzmann’s back story is pretty much unexplored. All the other characters have time dedicated to where they came from and who they were before ghost hunting was their thing. But for Holtzmann, part of her character involved being gay. Paul Fieg has confirmed as much, but said they had to cut all mentions of it due to “studio pressure”. It kind of explains a touching moment at the end of the film, that may seem out of place to many who don’t know this ahead of time. It’s unfortunate that her character got a chop job because of close-minded pressures, but at the same time it’s a testament to McKinnon’s performance that the character stands out despite that.

Moving along, if the first act was too short, the third act is a tad too long. The final battle takes on many forms and seems a bit over drawn, like maybe a segment could have been cut. But it’s fun spectacle of colors and action in way that brings Ghostbusters into the modern action genre. It’s also capped off by a few great jokes involving our very own Kevin.

If Ghostbuster has a glaring flaw, it’s its need to reference the original movie. As a reboot of a “beloved” franchise, there’s a reasoning behind bringing back those who came before you. To that effect, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver all have cameos in the movie. Some of them are better than others, like Hudson’s cameo. Others such as Dan Aykroyd’s feel out of place and are given way more screen time than they deserve. The only glaring omissions are Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. Ramis, who died before the release of the movie, has a dedication to his name at the very end.

Other than that, Ghostbusters is a fun film that celebrates smart, weird, and kick-ass women. It’s funny and has a charm to it that’s unique to something like Ghostbusters. It keeps the spirit of the original film while pushing it forward to the modern age. As stated above, Ghostbusters is a well made movie that absolutely deserves your attention, if nothing else for some standout performances from characters you may not expect them from.


Let’s Talk About Food

Before I begin, I should note that I’m writing this while eating an entire box of Chips Ahoy! cookies and a glass of milk. This will be important for later.

I’m going to write about food and body image for a bit, so if that bothers you, this is your warning to leave.

In short, I hate my weight. I absolutely despise it. For those unaware, I’m 24, male, and roughly 5 foot, 9 inches. I also weigh 210 pounds. The average for my height is around 170-175, so that’s quite a difference.

I’ve also been trying to get down to that weight for longer than I can remember. I think that I started around 2009? I honestly cannot remember. Either way, it’s been a long time. I’ve tried several different methods, from calorie counting, to “dieting” in the sense of portion control, to constant exercise, and some combination of those.

Nothing has worked. I lose a few pounds, then go back up and few pounds. One step forward, two steps back. Story of my life.

Reading this, you no doubt have a few questions. The first is why? Why is it so hard? There are multiple answers to this.

Food is a very important part of my family. My mother and I joke that the family motto is “We don’t eat to live, we live to eat.” This of course means we enjoy food for its taste much more than it’s ability to sustain life. We enjoy lots of different foods, but primarily sweet, savory, and salty.

In other words, we eat a lot of junk. Not as much as some people, but enough in my opinion.

There are also some mental factors. I suffer from major depression and anxiety. I take medication for these things and it works wonders. It keeps my moods mostly regular and pretty much destroys my anxiety.

It also makes it incredibly difficult to lose weight. Most anti-depressants you’ll see out there have “weight gain” or “difficulty losing weight” as side effects. And boy, they are not kidding. I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to lose any of the pounds I have. I’m talking cutting my calories down to 1200 a day, while also walking several miles on the treadmill.

But in the end it’s all for nothing because I have awful impulse control. That’s the nasty secret. I literally cannot control myself around food. If it’s there, and it tastes good to me, I’ll eat it. Even if I’ve already eaten my meals for the day, I’ll eat it. Even if I’m full, I’ll eat it. It’s just really a fact at this point. It doesn’t really help that I work at a restaurant where free food is always a possibility.

I have no clear idea why I do this. It’s probably a coping mechanism of some kind. But I haven’t been to therapy for it yet. Haven’t really had the ability to afford it.

And then there are nights like this, where I do really well for most of the day, and then slip up drastically. I hit rock bottom and just keep on digging. So even after stuff my face with pizza, I sit before you with a glass of milk and box of cookies. This happens more often than you think and I tend to eat until I get sick.

I’ve never vomited, because the one thing I hate more than everything is the feeling of vomiting. I avoid it whenever possible. But I’ve gotten to the point where I actually can’t move because my stomach is so upset, in case you were wondering.

The second question you have is – probably – why? Why do you want to lose all that weight?

I’ll be honest, I don’t have to. I could probably roll on through life like this and be perfectly fine. I don’t necessarily look my weight and most people don’t really care. I’ve had romantic partners that have theoretically found me attractive, so, you know, whatever.

But it isn’t about them, or “society”, or whatever. It’s simply what I want. It’s always been about what I want. Which is probably why it’s been so frustrating to constantly fail, over and over again.

So I’ve decided to just give up. All this is has done is create a circle of exhaustion and misery over never making any progress. The whole one step forward, two steps back thing feels like some kind of sick joke and frankly, I’m tired of it.

Maybe when (if) I finish college, I can afford a dietician and personal trainer so I’m more responsible to someone other than myself. Then maybe I can get myself onto a cleaner diet and a job where I’m not surrounded by food all the time.



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