My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Poster

My wife and I went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hoping for a fun comedy with elements of romance. Instead we got a romance with a few jokes.

I saw the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding with my mom when I was about ten years old. I don’t remember much about it, but I do recall not liking it.

Not surprising, why would ten year old me like a romance movie? There were a lot of things I didn’t like when I was ten that I enjoy now.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you already know the movie is about Toula rekindling her romance with Ian while her daughter is getting ready to leave for college. Additionally, Toula’s parents discover that their priest never signed their original wedding license so they are not officially married. Hijinks ensue as the wedding is planned and the family’s exaggerated Greek culture clashes with traditional American values.

Is it a comedy? Is it a romance? Is it a drama? The trailer certainly presents it as a comedy.

Unfortunately, the trailer was designed to trick you. The movie is definitely a romance. There aren’t many jokes in the actual movie that weren’t present in the movie.

Even worse, the trailer edited the punchlines with better comedic timing and music. Many of the jokes in the trailer fall flat in the movie because of poor timing that the editor should have corrected.

The drama element of the movie is… dull and predictable. Gus, the grandpa, doesn’t want to propose again to the grandma, Maria, because he thinks his first proposal was good enough. She stops being his housewife and doing all his chores until he finally gives her a lackluster proposal while being hauled away in a stretcher to an ambulance (his hip broke or something).

There’s also some stuff about Toula not wanting her daughter to leave Illinois for college. Surprise! The daughter decides to leave and Toula decides to support her decision.

You weren’t really surprised were you? Neither was I.

Fortunately, the romance of the movie was spot on. There’s a few tear-jerker elements and the weak jokes spice up the romance enough to make it interesting.

Greek Wedding 2 isn’t a homerun romance movie like The Notebook or anything else made by Nicholas Sparks, but it was decent. My wife and I felt closer after seeing parts of our happy relationship paralleled on the big screen.

Greek Wedding 2 had dozens of callbacks to the first movie that neither my wife nor I recognized. I’m sure that someone who enjoyed the original movie would like those parts of the sequel as well.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that I’m recommending this movie to people that liked the original. My faint memory of the first movie tells me that the second is a lot like it in many respects. You get to see how the characters have aged and grown and hear all your favorite jokes told in different ways.

The best part, you get to see Gus and some of his grandkids explain how every word in the world has a Greek origin. As a grecophile myself, I loved this running joke.

-GoCorral

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Pitch Perfect 2

We saw Pitch Perfect 2 and sadly it suffered from sequelitis.

That’s when the sequel to a movie just isn’t as good as the original and probably wouldn’t have been made if it didn’t already have an established fanbase.

It’s still a decent movie and if you enjoyed the first movie you’ll most likely enjoy the second, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen the first Pitch Perfect.

So what was weaker in this movie than the first? Gosh… Where to start?

The two announcer characters got a lot more racy and offensive. They were already a little bad in the first movie, but it was cringeworthy in the second.

I listened to a few interviews of the production staff as well and apparently most of the announcer scenes were adlibbed. I don’t know if that makes the racy parts better or worse, but they’re there.

The romantic plot between Beca and Jesse is essentially absent in the second movie. Their relationship is stable and off-camera. Their romantic sub-plot is replaced with Fat Amy and Benji’s two love interests. While those sub-plots are interesting they don’t really compare to the entertainment provided by Jesse cracking open Beca’s shell in the first movie.

The other thing that’s absent is Beca’s dad. I really liked his role in the first movie.

It makes some sense to phase out parental figures as the characters get older. And the whole sub-plot of Beca getting over her parents’ divorce is absent in Pitch Perfect 2 means that her dad doesn’t have much to do. I still missed his presence though. He’s somewhat replaced by the mother of a new freshman member of the Bellas, but the new relationship isn’t nearly as interesting as the old.

The villains in the second movie, Das Sound Machine, aren’t nearly as likeable as the Treblemakers.

Now why would you want to like your villains? Well I just wrote about that in a previous post. Go read that one and come back if you need an answer to this question.

Das Sound Machine are portrayed as just evil which makes them a little boring.

The movie also portrays them as hyper competent. While that’s definitely true, their performances are still a little boring. Their first performance is Uprising by Muse, one of my favorite songs. They do a great job, probably as good as they could do, but the song just sounds awful in acapella. I could barely understand the lyrics over the background music imitations.

The musical performances do really suffer compared to the original movie.

There are good reasons for this. The Bellas as a whole suffer some sort of identity crisis that comes out in their performances not being as good, but that also means that the first half of the movie has unsatisfying performances by the Bellas.

The first movie had this as well, but it covered it with humor. Aubrey throwing up pulls you into the hilarity of the movie right away. Aubrey’s tongue lashing after the poor performance at the fraternity party is great character development for her.

How does the Bellas excess use of props enhance the other plots in the movie?

It doesn’t.

I felt the songs picked for numbers were in general worse than the original as well. I didn’t know as many this time around and that hampered my enjoyment.

And there’s just a few other things that the second movie just missed. Lily’s little whispers aren’t as terrifying as the first movie. Beca’s odd sexual attraction to Das Sound Machine’s leader isn’t explored further by having Jesse find out. The inclusion of the new freshman in the Bellas felt like an excuse to have an original song in the moive so they could sell something with fewer royalties attached. If the international competition is for college groups, why are people out of college allowed to compete?

Just tons of small stuff like that.

Like I said, its not a good movie for people who haven’t seen the original. For those who enjoyed the original, there’s still plenty of stuff like it in the new movie. The songs are still catchy and Fat Amy is still hilarious.

-GoCorral

Warband Streaming

Steam had their usual Halloween sale and I snatched up a game I’d been watching for when it went on sale, Mount and Blade: Warband.

I wrote a review of the original Mount and Blade game back in March 2014. While my review was positive, I felt like after two playthroughs that I was done with the game and probably finished with any sequels as well.

To be fair those two playthroughs were massive in length and I didn’t want to get any sequels because I felt the gameplay wouldn’t be any different. Kind of like how I’ve only played the first two generations of the Pokemon games. I caught all 250 already, dammit! I don’t need anymore!

But eventually the call of a game I loved so much becomes too strong… My mind says, “You know you want it. And its on sale. Its only $10. You can get it.” And my mind forgets to mention that the real cost of a game for me isn’t the money, but the time I spend playing it instead of doing other things.

I usually play Mount and Blade when I’m by myself, so what other things could I do by myself that I’d be missing out on by not playing? I could read, watch something on Youtube or Netflix, draw, write something, stream a video game on Twitch-

Wait! What was that last one? I could stream a video game on Twitch you say?

Well, why not stream Mount and Blade?

I’ve been doing that and it’s tons of fun!

I’m exploring more of the mods for Warband. I’ve been learning more about tech trees and trading within the game. I’ve found other people who play it (Finally!). All around I’ve been having a blast replaying it. I even got my wife to play it for a minute which is a rare thing indeed.

I’ve been streaming in the morning on weekends and I plan to do a little more during the week as well. You can catch me at http://www.twitch.tv/gocorral

-Mister Ed

The Amazing Spiderman 2

I saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this weekend with my wife.

She’d liked the first one even though she claimed it was scary.

That was pretty much her reaction to the sequel too. She only likes watching romantic comedy movies when we go out.

I liked it a lot because it stayed true to the comics in many ways that the last series of movies did not.

And for those who haven’t seen the movie, I will be talking about spoilers and stuff in this blog post so you should avoid it if you want to keep the movie as suspenseful as possible.

The Amazing Spiderman series has Gwen Stacy as the Peter Parker’s love interest. The original movie series had Mary-Jane Watson.

In the comics Mary-Jane goes to high school with Peter and Gwen does not. Peter never becomes involved with Mary-Jane until they are 23 or something.

Gwen is Peter’s college girlfriend in the comics. They shifted her to high school in the movies to advance the narrative faster.

In the comics, Peter has no girlfriend in high school.

This can get confusing because they rebooted the comics as well. I mean the original Amazing Spiderman comics.

So the new movies have kept Gwen as a first girlfriend and written their relationship to be realistic and charming.

The original movies made you wonder why Mary-Jane dated someone who didn’t seem to care about her emotions and physically endangered her (I started wondering less after I realized how that type of relationship matches Mary-Jane’s parents’ relationship in the original movie series).

Other parts of the movie called back to the comic as well.

The scene on the airplane is very close to how its described in the comic, Aunt May’s oblique references to Spiderman match the comic (she knows that Peter is Spiderman already), J. Jonah Jameson is still a dick even through email, Harry “goes away for awhile” and then comes back to “do drugs” before he becomes the Green Goblin (his voice is also perfect for the Goblin), Norman’s creepy green skin matches how he looks in the comic reboot (Ultimate Spiderman), etc.

The music in the movie was also amazing. I’ve been listening to it at work this week.

And now for the spoiler part!

Gwen Stacy is killed almost exactly how she is in the comic.

The Green Goblin drops her and Peter catches her with his webbing, but she dies regardless.

One of my friends posted on Facebook that this type of plot twist is too common in modern movies.

The female lead dies to make the hero feel sad, but it also sends the message that women are expendable.

I agree. They could’ve just as easily referenced the comic with her plunge to earth, but had Peter rescue her successfully in the movie.

I’d much prefer a sequel where Gwen Stacy was still Peter’s girlfriend instead of Mary-Jane. It’s hard to imagine Mary-Jane being anything but inferior to the relationship Gwen and Peter displayed in the first two movies.

But the little fanboy in me is happy that they stayed by the comics.

-Mister Ed

Mount and Blade

I play a lot of video games but I am often far behind the latest release. I didn’t finish playing Pokemon Gold until Pokemon Heart Gold came out. I’m still working on Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed too. I’ll probably never experience Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins.

Mount and Blade is one of the few games I started playing when it first came out. The game was created by a Turkish couple and once it became popular they created a video game studio around it called TaleWorlds. TaleWorlds has just announced that Mount and Blade will be coming out on the Nvidia Shield. I’ve never heard of the Shield, but the people at TaleWorlds are excited to branch out beyond the PC.

In Mount and Blade you take on the role of a warrior in a medieval world with a variety of warring factions. The game is entirely sandbox based. There is no plot to follow. You have to make up your own plot.

The first time I played the game I started a civil war in one of the five kingdoms and ended up on the victorious side. The second time I formed my own kingdom and conquered the world for myself.

The gameplay is what you’d expect for a third person shooter in medieval times. You get swords, armor, bows, and other equipment to do battle with. RPG elements are mixed in as well. Your character levels up and has a few skills that influence the setup of battles as well as your combat capabilities in each battle. The more battles you win the more gear and money you get, money of course being spent on more gear.

The name of the game is Mount and Blade, so there is a fair bit of horse-riding in the game. Cavalry are vastly superior to other units in open field combat. Mount and Blade is also one of the few games to make horse combat interesting. Mounted combat meshes seamlessly with foot combat. Your character rides his horse around, hitting people as he rides by. If you aren’t careful eventually your horse will be taken out. You can try to find another horse that has lost its rider or you can continue on foot.

Mount and Blade is also one of the few games I’ve seen that fits single combat with RTS style combat. The only character whose actions you control directly is your own, but your character can bring potentially hundreds of others to the battle with him. These soldiers are given orders through hotkeys or a menu during battle. The orders can include positions to take on the battlefield, which weapons to use, whether to mount horses or stay on foot, and how tactical formations such as a wedge or turtle shape.

The soldiers that you command in battle have a morale that is heavily influenced by what food you give them. The greater variety of food they have to eat, the better and longer they fight. I spent a fair amount of game time buying more and more food for my soldiers to eat because they kept eating everything up after each battle.

Your soldiers level up after a battle just like you do. They get better gear and stronger combat capabilities with each new level. A fully leveled army is necessary for one of the greatest challenges in the game, sieges.

Sieges are the final objective in Mount and Blade. Unless you actively avoid it, your character will eventually end up in a siege. Assaulting a castle has two basic methods, just like in real medieval wars. You can wait for the combatants to starve or you can attack them with siege engines and try to take over the castle by force. Using force is almost always the better option in Mount and Blade.

Siege engines are used to breach the walls of the castle in someway first. This can be a battering ram that breaks down the castle gate, ladders that scale the walls, or a siege tower that goes over the wall allowing access. Once inside the castle walls you have to eliminate the enemy presence before your troops run out. Then you break into the inner keep and take on the guard there to secure the castle as your prize.

Your character can also defend from sieges. The same rules apply. My favorite tactic was shooting arrows at the soldiers pushing the siege towers up to my walls to try and slow the advance of the behemoth siege engine.

Mount and Blade also has an intense mod community. There are hundreds of mods that add small new things to the game or completely change it. Different mods can change the game to new historical periods, or fantasy periods. You can play a jedi on a speeder instead of a knight on a horse if you want. Some mods introduce boats. Others let you play as if you’re a King’s Guard in Westeros if you like Game of Thrones. I tried out a few. One of my favorites advanced the timeline of the basic game to Renaissance era, allowing rudimentary firearms to be used in combat.

I played the original game out as much as I felt like playing. A sequel came out awhile back, but my impression of it was, “We added some good ideas that were already present in mods and added a multiplayer mode that Mister Ed won’t be using.” A new sequel is scheduled to come out soon though! I’ve been thinking of taking a look. Maybe I’ll see you in the multiplayer mode there if I decide to try it.

You can find Mount and Blade at TaleWorlds website or on Steam.

-Mister Ed