Robert Wm. Gomez's

It Comes at Night (6/10)

So, we know there's been an worldwide pandemic and it involves a nasty rash and some inky vomit. Now that that is out of the way, let's watch a paranoid family take in some house guests. This seems like a horror movie, but aside from a couple of dream sequences, it's really just a mild thriller. By the end I was disappointed that the outside world's goings-on were never really explained, but by then I was somewhat invested in the characters, although their actions in the climax didn't quite make sense to me.

Man of Iron (6/10)

Set in early 20th Century, so much of this movie's tension could be solved with a gun. Instead it's a series of one-versus-many street brawls. The most likable character in the whole thing is the aging crime boss who our woman-slapping protagonist is seeking to replace. The fights are brutal and bloody, so it's got that going for it.

Vanquish on PC (7/10)

Vanquish

Vanquish is a third-person action game that has little to offer in terms of plot or characters. Its story feels like every other Japanese console game. Devil May Cry 4 comes to mind, and if you liked that game, you have a problem. The dialogue is all painfully cliché and tries very hard to be hip with nerdy allusions to action movie lines and bad-ass hero shots. Pretty cringe inducing.

But all this is moot. This game is really about its fast-paced game-play and mechanics. While certainly not revolutionary, the ability to skid around the map at hyper-speed is fun and challenging. Add on top of that a little bullet-time and you have an enjoyable but mindless way to pass a few hours.

Shaolin Temple (6/10)

The Shaolin formula is a non-monk enters the temple seeking to learn the tools of revenge. He undergoes ridiculous challenges and emerges seeing the error of his ways... but still gets revenge. The formula is in full effect here except, instead of a lone student, there are about a dozen of them. As such, the movie lacks any focus and by the time the end arrived, with its epic 15 minute battle, I didn't care about anything that was happening. Shaolin challenges offered: pointy rocks, jumping with leg weights, deadly mechanical gauntlet and rice stirring.

Chopping Mall (5/10)

Somewhat self-aware low-budget slasher film about killer robots in a shopping mall. With the exception of one noteworthy moment, doesn't quite deliver on the thrills or the gore. I was more interested in the 80s mall backdrop and feeling nostalgic for some of those old storefronts.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet on MS-DOS (9/10)

Ultima 6 Chamber of Horrors

With the completion of VI, I'm getting close to having played all the games in the Ultima series. I own boxed copies of the Apple ][ versions of III–V, but when it came to VI, Origin switched to MS-DOS. In 1990 I was starting college, I didn't own a computer, let alone a PC, and, as the years passed, history became legend, legend became myth, and for two-and-a-half thousand years, the Ultima series passed out of all knowledge... or something like that.

In the late 90s I upgraded from an Apple IIgs to a Windows 95 PC and was reintroduced to the series via a soundcard bundled version of Ultima VIII: Pagan. That game was mediocre at best and it didn't finish it until years later—after I having played through a CD-ROM Classics version of Ultima VII. VII was a pain to get running on a Windows machine, but it was worth it. It truly is the precursor to modern, open-world RPGs like Skyrim in both its scope and richness of detail.

The False Prophet almost achieves the level of refinement that Ultima VII boasts. It's not quite there yet, retaining a bit of the Apple ][ era feel. Maybe that's why I think I liked this a bit more than VII. It doesn't try to hide the fact that it's a game. The interface takes up half the screen, there are a dozen or so unique commands (like a LucasArts point and click adventure), and there still are actual RPG elements like leveling-up and turn-based combat.

The Woman in Black (7/10)

Wait, there's a new(ish) haunted house in the olden days movie from Hammer films? And it stars Harry Potter? Count me in! The story never gets too far beyond guy in haunted house who sees ghosts, but it's effective and almost creepy at times. Of only they could have cast Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (7/10)

This was a lot like John Wick in that it depicts a fantastical version of crime movie. But Brawl is a bit more of a slow burn and actually has action you can follow. It doesn't go pure fantasy until the last third, and by then I was already sold on the lead character. The violence is over-the-top and it all feels like a sleazy 70s grindhouse film by the climax.

The Last Movie Star (8/10)

I was planning on watching this eventually but then Burt Reynolds had to go off die. I bumped it to the front of my queue. It's a bit Lifetime Movie-ish, so it's effective in pulling the heart strings in all the right cheesy parts. I have zero nostalgia for Burt Reynolds, except maybe Cannonball Run and Win, Lose or Draw, but I finished the movie caring a bit more for him and all the bad movie choices he made during his career.

Fearless Fuzz (6/10)

This has all the markings of a standard Itallian poliziotteschi, but the first third of the movie plays as a screwball comedy. The premise is pretty much the same as The Rockford Files: a charming, but poor private eye who can solve crimes that the police can't. The only difference is that the lead actor weird looking and not very charming. Oh, and the plot gets icky when it becomes about child prostitution. Not the ideal backdrop for comedy.