Interstellar | Sky Rogue | WandaVision, Episode 4
Up, up and away?
Movie review - Interstellar
Movie summary: A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival. (IMDb)
Interstellar is the kind of movie that had to really be seen on the big screen - IMAX, to be specific about it - to fully appreciate just how gorgeous this movie is, but it's still pretty great to watch at home too, even with a near three-hour runtime. The story doesn't quite justify that length, but neither does it drag enough to make you wish the movie was over sooner.
There are some scenes that go on a little too long and feel like director Christopher Nolan showing off his technical mastery of film-making, in addition to some scenes that feel like they exist to ram home certain points - almost as if Nolan doesn't quite trust the audience to follow exactly what's going on or buy into certain ideas he's trying to get across.
It should be pointed out that he doesn't really explain the 'hard' science when used either, assuming - probably correctly - that most people watching will view that material as akin to Star Trek's 'technobabble' and tune it out anyway. It's the more 'emotional' material that is over-explained, but often removes the emotion from the moment as a result - it doesn't happen often, but it's a little weird when it does.
Aside from that, Interstellar is pretty fantastic and fantastically pretty. Genuinely, Interstellar is a gorgeous movie and you should try and watch it on the biggest screen you can in the highest resolution you can - soak it all in and enjoy the incredible visuals that the movie provides. Also make sure you have a great sound system too so you can enjoy the fantastic score, which I had to go and download once over so I could appreciate it more.
Oh, I should say that - unlike many post-Interstellar Nolan movies - the sound doesn't drown out the dialogue here, so you can still follow what's going on without needing to resort to subtitles. It does come close on a couple of occasions, but pulls back just before crossing that line into being a problem - a high-wire act that balances perfectly here, but something Nolan has struggled to replicate since.
But all the audio-visual wizardry wouldn't work without a great story and performances, so thankfully we have Matthew McConaughey giving one of his best ever turns to utterly convince you that the cross of 'hard' science and wonky human emotionality that drive the plot really does make sense. It's not the rest of the case is anything less than at least good, but McConaughey reaches a level above all of them to deserve special attention and praise.
Interstellar is a great that comes close to being truly incredible, but just falls short due to a sensation that it's trying a little too hard to evoke a response from the audience rather than allowing it to develop naturally. Otherwise, it's the usual technical masterclass you'd expect from a Christopher Nolan movie - looking and sounding just stunning - with a great lead performance from Matthew McConaughey.
TV review - WandaVision, Episode 4, "We Interrupt This Program"
TV summary: Monica Rambeau, tasked with a special assignment regarding sentient weapons, goes missing. (IMDb)
Much like any other episode of this series, it's hard to talk about what happens without spoiling it, but the majority of this episode takes place in the 'real' world and deals with trying to figure out what exactly is going on - putting the characters in the same role as the audience as they try to piece everything together, bringing in side characters from the first two Thor movies and Ant-Man and the Wasp to round out the cast.
It starts off really well, flashing back to the day Hulk used the Infinity Gauntlet during the events of Avengers: Endgame and brought everyone back, returning Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to life and the resultant chaos of billions of people all coming back at the same time. It's a frantic, energetic opening that I think shows that the MCU could make an effective place for a horror story if they really wanted.
That feeling is reinforced later on with Vision surprising Wanda, revealing a detail many may have already guessed about what happened to him after his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Notice how many different movies have already been mentioned? Much like most new Marvel Studios releases, the more of the MCU you know about, the more you'll get from this.
Unfortunately, because this episode is getting us up to speed with the life outside of Westview, it re-treads a lot of old ground and the story is left at the exact same point as the end of episode 3, just with greater context. Hopefully, this episode will prove to be more important as a piece of the whole, but - while still fun to watch - feels a little redundant outside of the two 'horror' moments.
WandaVision's fourth episode isn't exactly a stumble, but more of a slowdown in momentum. After a great opening, all it does is fill in some small gaps from the first three episodes to bring us up-to-date with what has happened outside the town of Westview where Wanda and Vision are living. It's still enjoyable enough, but certainly nothing special.
Game review - Sky Rogue
Game summary: Blow things up over land, sea, and air, on an infinite number of procedurally-generated islands. (Steam)
This is going to be a review of exceptions, because there's a lot of good in Sky Rogue that I'm going to get through quickly. First off, it's great fun to play which is obviously the most important part. The controls are pretty simple, but are consistently solid and not once could I ever blame the game over my own stupidity when failing a mission.
Secondly, I really like the art style for most of the game, with the various ships you can accumulate having such varied designs that there should be something for everyone - I'm a sucker for fighters with swept-forward wings! The game has a really great, but simple style that is great to look at despite the lack of detail - which can't be said about the water.
I will admit that the style is supposed to be simple, but what's with that terrible water texture that takes up so much of the surface? I get that this game is rogue-esque in design so having randomly-created islands is easier than landscapes, but that water would've been an embarrassment on any gaming device past the Mega Drive/SNES era and it really did detract from the otherwise great style for the rest of the game.
But the water is not Sky Rogue's biggest sin, which is the appalling sound design. Remember that this is a game entirely based around aerial combat involving fighter craft and using a variety of weapons? I could honestly make more convincing, deeper engine noises, weapon effects and explosion sounds with my own voice than this game.
Everything is so light and lacking in bass that it makes the simple art style comes across as worse than it is and that the various weapons of war are made out of folded paper or cardboard. It's so desperately bad that it really does drag the game and even playing with the sound muted is a better option than listening to the poor efforts here - weren't there any free samples that could be used better than this?
Sky Rogue is a really fun game to blast around in every now and then, but the appalling sound design and terrible water textures really do drag the game down. Mute the game and listen to some appropriate music, all while hoping that your targets are aerial if possible and you can have a great time. There's so much potential here, that if a Sky Rogue 2 came out with those two problems fixed, I'd buy it in an instant.