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Top 10 Indie Sci-Fi Games

Below is my Top 10 list of the best Indie sci-fi video games. What is an Indie game? Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Independent video games (commonly referred to as indie games) are video games created by individuals or small teams generally without video game publisher financial support. Indie games often focus on innovation and rely on digital distribution.

So why put together a list of great Indie games? Well, money isn’t everything and many times great video game titles are overlooked due to their lack of finances, big name branding, or significant marketing. With the expanse of digital systems like Steam and various console eShops, Indie titles are more accessible than ever before. Check out my favorites and then comment below with yours.


 

Top 10 Indie Sci-Fi Video Games



(#1) FTL: Faster Than LightIndie game - FTL
Systems: Windows, Linux, and OSX
Input: Keyboard and Mouse

Click here for Trailer

The term “Faster Than Light” is a generic term to deal with the realities of having to break certain fundamental laws of physics to journey to the stars. FTL’s approach is that of Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica’s warping of space to instantaneously teleport to another part of space. The jump’s sound and visual effects are an obvious nod to the show. But plot wise, instead of running from Cylons, the brave souls of your little ship are off to warn the government of an impending revolution and to stop a massive ship.

The plot of the game isn’t its best draw, it’s the game mechanics. FTL is basically an 8-bit styled starship simulator. You reroute power from one system to another, strategically target vital enemy systems, all the while choosing when and where to fire. Timing is very important in this game, a glaive beam with shields up is pointless but if the enemy can be caught with their shields down, this weapon it can be devastating. Missiles, on the other hand, punch through the shields but are more expensive. Another option is to simply board the ship when there is a gap in shield coverage, kill its crew, and salvage parts at leisure. You can even board the enemy ship mid-combat, take out the life support, and let the bad guys suffocate. The choice is yours.

Choice is another great mechanic in the game. It isn’t about jumping to a sector and killing the baddies. The game presents you with problems and options, with choices having various short term outcomes. All of this is randomized to keep the game fresh and fun. How and what is done in the game determines your ship’s load out as you advance to the final goal and confrontation with the enemy flagship.

Let’s face it, this game isn’t easy. As with a lot of other 8-bit games, it’s actually quite hard. The chief tactic to remember in this game is to play the best hand you’re dealt. But also remember Cpt. Picard, “It is possible to commit no errors and still lose… That is not a weakness that is life.” FTL scratches that itch you always had to command a starship and it hits its mark far better than so many other big name titles try to do.

Indie game - FTL Battle

 



(#2) Defense Grid: The AwakeningIndie game - Defense Grid
Systems: Windows, OSX, and Xbox 360
Input: Keyboard and Mouse

Click Here for Trailer

This game is an alien invasion take on the sub-genre of tower defense. Simply put, this real-time strategy styled game is about stopping the enemy from reaching its objective, to keep the insectoid aliens from taking your vital computer cores. If they take all of them, you lose and your people die. What sets this game apart from other games in the sub-genre is routing the nasty little bug’s path. You build your towers in a way that forces them to go the long way around or take extra laps around well armed section. This is a great way to slow them down; it’s a great little mini puzzle in itself.

In the game there are towers that house various types of offensive weapons, from short range and cheap machine guns all the way up to longer range cannons. Flamethrowers roast groups and lasers zap the fast ones; you get the idea. There are also support towers that boost the capabilities of existing ones. Boosting revenue, gathering intel, or slowing the alien bugs down. All of these towers can be upgraded to increase firepower when and where you need. You’ll soon learn in this game that real estate is precious.

Defense Grid also sports an excellent narrative to go along with its depth of game play. Superbly acted, the narrator sucks you into the story. Turning a basic bug killing game into a desperate, last stand attempt to save your society. You are the last line of defense and the narrator makes you believe it.

Indie game - Defense Grid Scene

 



(#3) Bastion
Systems: Lots
Input: Keyboard and Mouse

Click Here for Trailer

Indie game - Bastion

Bastion’s greatest achievement is its story and how it is told. Narrated by a deep jazzy voice that evokes the country twang of Firefly, it draws the player into this world of calamity. Some cataclysmic event has ripped apart the world and the player has to save what they can in this lifeboat of a town called Bastion. This action game is about holding onto what you can after a tragedy, poignant in this post 9/11 world. This sense of the world’s loss is all delivered by narrator who doesn’t just feed the you the story, he comments on your actions with quotes like:

“the kid gave as good as he got” (when you first get skilled at reflecting hits)

and at the end:

“But then? All he got was more thankless work, from a man who ain’t even asked his name. Sure, I may be the one who dreamt up the Walls and the Bastion, but the Kid made ’em real, not me. I’d like to say I’ll never forget him, or what he’s doin’. What he’s done. I surely would.”

This is a superb game that brings great storytelling in with some great combat. The soundtrack is also uniquely moving and brings in the mood of this adventure.

Indie game - Bastion

 



(#4) Binding of Isaac
Systems: Lots
Input: controller is best

Click Here for Trailer

Indie game - Binding of Isaac

This macabre game is about a troubled boy named Isaac who is tormented in life. Particularly by his overbearing, religiously conservative mother who blames him for being evil. Isaac must enlist both the forces of good and evil to escape the dungeon and ultimately confront his mother.

The game’s graphics are a simple 8-bit style that is all drawn in a crude, unassuming manner. The game’s real strength lies in the game play . The general feel of the game is something like the original top down style of the classic Legend of Zelda for the NES, gathering unique power-up items that drastically change game play and exploring dungeon like environments, all leading up to a boss fight. Great replay value and depth is given to the game by the huge amount of random items: 196 special items and 343 semi-special ones. Bosses, enemies, and dungeon layouts are all randomized so that even after a hundred plays, the game still feels fresh and enjoyable. Add on top of all of that, it has been updated for free several times in the form of free DLC. All of these makes this one of the best indie games out there. Behind the plain and simple art styles is an excellent Zelda styled game that shouldn’t be skipped over in any indie game list.

Indie game - Binding of Isaac Battle Crop

Indie game - Binding Isaac Bomber Man

 

 

 

 

 

 



(#5) The Stanley ParableIndie game - The Stanley Parable
Systems: Windows, Linux, and OSX
Input: Keyboard and Mouse

Hilarious Trailer, You Should Really Click Me

Utterly short, terribly pitiful, painful plot. This is The Stanley Parable, one of the most innovative games out there. From the first person perspective you follow the boring life of Stanley who is about to learn about free will. This game is a tongue-in-cheek critique about modern gaming and illusions of free will in gaming. In this game you’ll ask your self, ” Is that really a clever, outside the box, approach? Or are you just following the path down the maze to get some cheese that someone left for you.” If you follow the narrator’s directions the game comes to a short, safe ending, that is simply just boring. If at every turn you attempt to derail this narrative by going off the well-beaten path the narrator lets you know, often in humorous and snarky ways, as if your making the narrator’s job more difficult and being a nuisance. But all of these alternative paths are far more interesting, but ultimately go nowhere. It is in these alternate, clever routes where the fun is. It ends up being a commentary of the illusion of free will in all games and evokes all of those times the illusion of a world was shattered when you simply didn’t go where the game makers meant you to go. The Stanley Parable isn’t so much as game as it’s a work of art, an essay of video games in general. Play this one to freshen up your perspective on game culture.

Indie game - The Stanley Parable

Indie game - The Stanley Parable

 



(#6) Mark of The NinjaIndie game - Mark of the Ninja
Systems: Windows, Linux, OSX, Xbox 360
Input: Controller or Keyboard and Mouse

Click Here for Trailer

Mark of The Ninja is an action game that makes you feel like a ninja. You will sneak; you will pounce down on unaware guards; you will out-think your opponents and if you like these sorta things then you will love this game. You will become the ninja. It does these things better than most other big name games try to do in the stealth genre.  A neat little feature is its quick time events when you sneak attack a guard; do it right and he is taken out without a noise; do it wrong and his friends come to investigate his cry. Mark of the Ninja demonstrates that it’s better to be like a cobra, to be felt but not seen, an excellent ninja styled stealth game.

The plot follows a ninja protagonist who takes an ink tattoo that gives him heightened capabilities, a tradition that goes all the way back to ancient times. Forces that work against him want to make his clan modernized, replacing the ancient ways with high tech military hardware. The player has to decide what direction the clan’s future lays with. Will the ninja remain true to his ways or embrace something else? Bloody bodies and shadows await.

Indie game - Mark of the Ninja pounce gifIndie game - Mark of the Ninja pull gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



(#7) Guacamelee!Indie game - Guacamelee!
Systems: Lots
Input: Controller is best

Click Here for Trailer

On the surface this just looks like another colorful beat’em up game, but there’s more to it. Guagamelee has a fantastic mechanic of timing and selecting special attacks that force the player to pay attention and think on their feet. The player has to choose which alternate reality he is in to strike opponents and beat puzzles.  Choosing the right special attack against the right opponent is critical as well. This all built around a Metroid styled mechanic of new abilities, unlocking parts of the map that had always been just out of reach.

At its heart it still is just a beat’em up, but a surprisingly good one. All the other elements that make an excellent game are there, story, style, timing, pacing, and even some humor sprinkled in as the game never takes itself too seriously. This is a visually stunning game, sporting Luchador elements and other  Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) flares. It’s a pleasure walk through this world. All the while excellent music that sets the mood as you beat thugs. This game’s claim to fame isn’t its originality, it’s Guacamelee’s ability to do the basics all so perfectly that makes it stand apart. Don’t let the looks of the game fool you, it is an excellent beat’em up game!

Indie game - Guacamelee!

 



(#8) Super Meat BoyIndie game - Super Meat Boy
Systems: Lots
Input: Controller or you will suck it big time

Click Here for Trailer

The best homage to 8-bit platforming is Super Meat Boy and the game shouldn’t need much introduction. It hints and nods to classic games at every turn through cut scenes and game play and its music is actually quite good considering the mood of the game. Though not much to look at graphically speaking, it has a nice unifying simplistic style that is charming and grows on you. Its game play is hardcore platforming, the kind that would make the most skilled veterans of the 8-bit era shocked. A rampant fast moving parkour rush approach to levels. Imagine speed runs of Super Mario Bros. and you start to get the idea. It encourages you to charge boldly in to dangerous levels, without a moments hesitation, acting instead on instinct and reflexes. Super Meat Boy goes where angels fear tread. Overthinking in this game will get you killed. Often you’ll find yourself getting the furthest on the first attempt just to be snuffed out by hesitating in another run. But the rewards of making it through a stage are incredible, seeing the replay of you zipping to the goal, watching your failures die off in an all encompassing replay of all attempts at the stage. What’s most excellent about the game is its crisp controls. Taking on these hazardous levels is like cruising down the Alps in Lamborghini.  You always feel in control. When you die, you blame yourself; the game never feels like it cheated you into death, so you never feel frustrated regardless of how hard it gets. This is something a lot of retro games fail at, making it difficult and yet still fun Super Meat Boy excels at it. It’s fair to say the game can be found at the top of many Indie game lists.

Indie game - Super Meat Boy Buzz Saws

 



(#9) SpelunkyIndie game - Spelunky
Systems: Lots
Input: Controller or you will die

Click Here for Trailer

This game is all about starting with your little adventurer at the top of the map and working your way down to the exit. Using bombs and ropes to go down, collecting gold and jewels as you go to buy items. All of this done in classic 8-bit style. Levels are randomized to give the player great replay value and the game’s mechanics are strict yet rewarding. Spelunky encourages the player to “look before they leap”, making players go about things carefully and cautiously. Totally different from the game Super Meat Boy. Every move is thought out and gone about carefully; an impulsive player won’t last long in the caves. Deliberation is needed. This game’s deceptive difficulty brings the game down a notch on the list but is still plenty of fun to play as there are numerous, creative enemies and items to change game play up.

Indie game - Spelunky

 



(#10) Torchlight, I and IIIndie game - Torchlight
Systems: Windows, Linux, OSX, Xbox 360
Input: Keyboard and mouse

Click Here for Trailer

Torchlight looks like Diablo, sounds like, plays like, and in many ways is very much like Diablo. This would be a rip off except two of the co-designers for it, Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer, left Diablo to come make this. But simply put, if you like Diablo, then you’ll like this game. It offers many modernized ideas to dungeoneering and loot gathering that improve upon the classics. All dungeons and loot drops are randomized but also have scripted events blended into them to keep the story moving along. Respectable graphics and great music make for a great ambiance to go with your hack and slash, spell casting action.  And the sequel is actually quite good as well supporting many Steampunk themes.

Indie game - Torchlight

Have you played any on my Indie sci-fi game list? Did I leave something off you think deserves a spot in the Top 10? Comment below!

Top 10 Indie Sci-Fi Games

Who Should Be Captain Marvel?

A lot of rumors have been swirling around the casting for Captain Marvel since a solo movie in her honor was announced late 2014.  While some are absolutely brilliant, others are just downright weird.  Take a look at these ten actresses that might snag the part.

Captain Marvel

 

10.  Ronda Rousey

1439929021_ronda-rousey-467

 

Known as the best female MMA fighter, Rousey has been recently campaigning for this role via all sorts of social media, including commissioning and posting fan art.  In the last few months, she has truly let her geek flag fly, revealing in her reddit AMA just how much of a comic book fan she really is.  The only downside to seeing Rousey in this role is the level of acting it’s going to entail.  She’ll be up against long time veterans of the craft and any slips could stick out much more than they’d like.  Sadly, a nerd and badass woman doesn’t always translate into great acting.

9. Katee Sackoff

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For at least a year now, this rumor has been in place.  Sackoff has even reportedly met with Marvel executives for a possible role.  Since her Battlestar Galactica days, she hasn’t done much, but a role as one of Marvel’s leading ladies can put any career back in the limelight.  Her cult acting status has her placed as one of the favorite contenders for the role among fans.

8. Charlize Theron

383952-charlize-theron-new-700

 

This rumor is relatively new, following her brilliant take as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s like we all remembered that she could act, or something?  Theron is beyond talented.  On screen, she is a force to be reckoned with and she could easily stand her ground with the amazing Marvel lineup thus far.  She’s even the same age as most of her male counterparts (she just turned 40 this month), making the women of Marvel a more well-rounded group as opposed to being decades younger than the men.  While this rumor may be one of the best, it’s also one of the least likely to happen.

7. Natalie Dormer

nataliedromer

I’m not sure how this rumor started or when I first heard it, but I’m completely okay with this.  Dormer has seen a lot of popularity lately thanks to both Game of Thrones and Mockingjay: Part 1 and it would be a smart business decision to have her jump on the Marvel train sometime soon.  Fans aren’t the only ones to think so, either.  Her recent half shaved head hairstyle has been reflected in the “Captain Marvel” comics lately with Carol Danvers herself sporting the same look.  Coincidence, or foreshadowing?

6.  Katheryn Winnick

550x298_Captain-Marvel-movie-casting--Yvonne-Strahovski-vs-Katee-Sackhoff-Who-should-play-Carol-Danvers-6210

 

A solid part of Vikings, Winnick has proven herself to be an upcoming star.  She’s also ready for just about any kind of action Marvel could throw at her.  While this rumor is mostly fan-based, Winnick has been approached in multiple interviews asking if she would ever consider a role with Marvel.  Fortunately, she seemed to be completely up for the idea and would be eager to fill the role of Captain Marvel, or almost anyone else for that matter.

5. Jessica Chastain

936full-jessica-chastain

 

The Interstellar star has been rumored since late 2014.  She had been up for the role of Maya Hanson in Iron Man 3 before having to drop out due to scheduling issues. Since then, she’s met again with Marvel about a possible different role, which means they have to like her, right?  Chastain even joined the campaign trail to play a superhero, any superhero for a while.  This rumor, sadly enough, seems to have fizzled out recently with Chastain even quoted “There was one thing. I don’t want to say too much – but there was one thing, there was a possibility in the future of the character becoming… And I was like, ‘I understand that, but I want to do it now.’ ”

4. Jennifer Lawrence

jennifer-lawrence

This rumor is 100% fan driven.  Lawrence is beyond a capable actress and would fit right into the Marvel lineup, of that there isn’t a doubt in my mind.  However, Lawrence gets giant franchise after giant franchise, which may be a turn off to some.  Her popularity may not add anything that Marvel couldn’t bring in without her and her larger than life Hollywood profile may stand out more than Marvel would want at this time.  Plus, we know Fox and Marvel can’t cross the streams yet! Maybe if she’s ever officially done playing Mystique…

3. Yvonne Stahovsky

Yvonne4

 

Her role on Chuck proved to many fans that she could take on a superhero role any day, which has left her being a strong contender for the mass audience.  While her work since the show’s finale hasn’t reached the same popularity, her name still keeps popping up when Captain Marvel is mentioned.  She may not be the most obvious choice, she definitely isn’t out of the running yet.

2. Alice Eve

alice eve

 

Marvel enjoys seeing their actresses pull off other major franchise roles before they cast them in the hero spot.  Evangeline Lilly had The Hobbit films, Elizabeth Olsen had Godzilla, and Johansson has had a string of successes since she was a kid.  Alice Eve has that too, now.  Don’t think Marvel will overlook her take on Carol Markus from Star Trek Into Darkness (there’s no punctuation there, I promise).  It certainly worked for Zoe Saldana.  If Eve wants a role in the Marvel franchise bad enough, she most likely will be offered it immediately.

1. Emily Blunt

30/01/2011 PA File Photo of Emily Blunt, arriving for the premiere of Gnomeo and Juliet, an animated film produced by Sir Elton John and David Furnish, at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ Insider. Picture credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Insider.

Here it is, your top contender for the Captain Marvel role.  Blunt has proven herself to be one of Hollywood’s most well-rounded actresses, leading dramas, action films, and even musicals.  She can bring the star power without overpowering a role.  Her characters, no matter how tough or resilient, she portrays them with a softness that doesn’t take away from any of their qualities.  She’s also the only that has been in touch with Marvel for years.  She was one of the original actresses up for Black Widow.  I’d expect to see Blunt in a Marvel role before Phase 3 is over.

Well, that’s it. Ten awesome women rumored to don the Captain Marvel uniform.  Who’s your favorite? Who do you want to stay away from the project? Who would you like to have a rousing conversation over some ice cream? Comment below!

Who Should Be Captain Marvel?

MCU Ranking – Where Does Ant-Man Land?

Marvel_Cinematic_Universe_logo

A few weeks ago, we ranked all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We had some people agree and disagree with us, but have stuck by our rankings.  Since then, the release of Ant-Man has come and gone (you can check out our Ant-Man review here) and now the time has come for it to take its place among our ranked films.

Ant-Man Poster

For those of you who have missed it, our list prior to Ant-Man was as follows (you can see the full article here):

11. Iron Man 2
10. Incredible Hulk
9. Iron Man 3
8. Thor: The Dark World
7. Captain America: The First Avenger
6. Thor
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
1. Avengers

Ant-Man Poster

It was a close call, but Ant-Man has officially taken the number 5 spot!

The film was a solid addition the MCU as a whole and brought to the table what Avengers: Age of Ultron just couldn’t, heart.  Paul Rudd brought such an endearing humor to the character, Scott Lang, that should cause both positive and negative ripples in the Avengers as a whole. The parallels between Hank Pym and Scott Lang were well done without being in your face.  The romance between Hope and Scott wasn’t necessarily inevitable, but it worked.  How great was Corey Stoll’s Yellowjacket? The man was out of his mind! And Michael Pena stole the show as Luis. The film was missing some of the charm that the made Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man such big hits (I blame it on them not letting Hope suit up too), but Ant-Man’s future in the MUC is looking bright!

Overall rating: 5 brave trips to the Quantum Realm

MCU Ranking, Now with more Ant-Man

ant-man-bullet-poster12. Iron Man 2
11. Incredible Hulk
10. Iron Man 3
9. Thor: The Dark World
8. Captain America: The First Avenger
7. Thor
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
5. Ant-Man
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
1. Avengers

What do you think of our placement of Ant-Man? Should it be higher? Lower? Let us know!

 

MCU Ranking – Where Does Ant-Man Land?

Ranking The Mission: Impossible Movies

Since its revival in 1996, Tom Cruise has starred in five Mission: Impossible movies. The fifth one, Rogue Nation, hits theaters today. These movies are a testament to the time in which they were created. The somewhat over-the-top gadgets have gotten more advanced and less clunky over the years, the plots have adapted to the times, and the action sequences have become more complex. This list will rank the Mission: Impossible movies starting from the worst and working our way to the top. So let’s plunge right into what the worst that the franchise has to offer…

4. Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible 2

After the successful first movie, it was inevitable that a sequel would be made. However, this movie had a very different tone from the original Mission: Impossible. This could be attributed to the new director, John Woo, who specializes in making action movies, as opposed to Brian De Palma, who can certainly do action but is also known for making thinking and complex movies The Untouchables and Scarface. There was certainly a lot more action going on in this film. However, that is the nature of a Mission: Impossible film. More problems lied with poor supplementals. By supplementals, I mean production values. First, the music was atrocious, which is a surprise from Hans Zimmer, who is a prolific composer nowadays. His overuse of the electric guitar as a lead instrument did not work well for this movie. Second, the cinematography is flashy and oftentimes irrelevant. Whether it’s strange fights in the sand, four different angles of Ethan Hunt aiming his gun before he fires, or the birds flocking in a cellar, the cinematography draws the viewer out of the movie with its lack of subtlety.

Supplementals aside, this movie had some problems in the story department as well. The romance plot was terrible. We knew Ethan Hunt would never end up with a thief, and their romance being almost entirely built off of a narrowly-avoided car crash is a sloppy addendum. Lastly, there was the supposed twist. The first Mission: Impossible made the twist almost entirely about the masks, which worked well with that film. Mission: Impossible II tried to use the masks as well. Unfortunately, the twist was fairly predictable and lackluster, like the rest of this movie. Mission: Impossible II remains the worst of the franchise.

This film gets one fancy camera angle out five.

3. Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

There is not much bad you can say about this film. It has a strong cast with Simon Pegg reprising his role as Benji from M:I:III and Jeremy Renner as a former IMF agent with tragic past. However, after Mission: Impossible III, this film felt like a step down. This was not a personal story for Ethan Hunt and lacked the character development of the previous. It also lacked Luther, who only provided a brief cameo in the film. However, the plot is fun and, while Ethan Hunt does not have much character development, the supporting cast has plenty with Benji entering field service for the first time and the revelations of Renner’s past. And let us not forget the cool stunt work on the skyscraper.

This film gets three and a half skyscraper climbing stunts out of five.

2. Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible served as a revival of the franchise from the 1960s. It even featured a character from the old show, Jim Phelps, as played by Jon Voight. This film is a meticulous spy movie in the same realm as From Russia With Love. Danny Elfman’s musical score perfectly creates this tone without much bombast. There is not as much action as any of the others, but the twists and turns keep the film from getting even close to boring. We also have some rather enjoyable gadgets with the gum explosive and the camera eyeglasses. With its twisted plot and ’90s technology, this film is a fun trip down Nostalgia Lane.

It gets four NOC floppy disks out of five.

1. Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III

After the lackluster second movie, it was nearly six years before audiences saw another Mission: Impossible film enter cinemas. The wait was well worth it with J.J. Abrams taking the helm as director. Mission: Impossible III‘s primary objective was to focus on Ethan Hunt as a person and it does so wonderfully. Ethan is no longer on active field duty but instead trains recruits. He is engaged, which further keeps him from wanting to go back into the field. However, when his superiors ask him to take one last assignment, Ethan’s personal life becomes threatened. Throughout the film, it is the protection of his fiance that drives him, which is why this film has found its way to the top of the list. Of course, Mission: Impossible III has incredible action sequences, a wonderful score from Michael Giacchino (who was just beginning to become well-known at that point), and a solid cast. One would be remiss in not mentioning Philip Seymour Hoffman’s incredible job as the villain.

Mission: Impossible III gets four and a half wind farm chase sequences out of five.

Do you agree with our list? How would rank them? Let us know in the comments!

Ranking The Mission: Impossible Movies

Ranking All 12 Star Trek Movies

The Star Trek franchise turns 50 next year and we are hoping for a thirteenth Star Trek movie along with the announcement of its return to television. While Simon Pegg pens the script and production begins, I attempt to rank the existing 12 Star Trek movies from the original 1979 space opera Star Trek: The Motion Picture, through The Next Generation’s first film, Generations, and up through J.J. Abrams’ pseudo Wrath of Khan remake, Into Darkness. I’ll break down why I rank each Star Trek film the way I did and their placement will include things like character growth, special effects, musical scores, plot, and overall consistency. The Star Trek franchise is one of the biggest and oldest science fiction franchises out there, so I’m sure many will disagree with my ranking. Please comment with your own and let me know what you think of my list. Engage!

12. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Is The Final Frontier really as bad as people say it is? Yes. Across the board. The basic plot is a beat up with a falling apart Enterprise-A staffed by an ever aging crew of our classic Original Series cast. The ship is taken over by Spock’s half-brother who is on a search for God at the center of the galaxy. Now, let’s forget how ridiculous it is that the Enterprise could get to the center of the galaxy in a short time (I’m more inclined to let these things go in the original TV show episodes, not the fifth film on the big screen) and instead focus on the corny dialogue, poor special effects, and all-around lame attempts at emotional moments. The budget for this film was slashed and we’ve been told that a lot of the movie was cut out. So perhaps the original version would have been better but instead what we’re left with is some cute camping scenes with our trio singing, Kirk making love to the mountain, Uhura’s weird fan dance, Scotty knocking himself out because he apparently doesn’t know the ship well anymore, and weird telepathic scenes where our crew sees their worst fears brought to life… though somehow everyone else can see what’s happening. At the end, we meet “God,” who is really just an alien that Kirk tries to outsmart with the famous, “What does God need with a starship?” line. Eventually, the day is saved by a random, could have been anyone, Klingon who wants to kill Kirk because it sounds like fun. The movie did so poorly that the original box set covers thought this was the end of the series and franchise so when Star Trek VI came out, it didn’t really fit in with the box set art.

I give it 2 marsh melons roasting on a corny fire.

11. Star Trek: Generations

Star Trek: Generations

Is this film an Original Series film or a Next Generation film? Neither. It’s actually a Kirk and Picard film that happens to have other people in it. We do get some very nice moments like seeing Sulu’s daughter, Guinan providing her always interesting wisdom (why wasn’t she credited in this film?), and Malcolm McDowell making a good villain. All reasons why this film outdoes our last place contender. So what’s so bad about it? Well, The Next Generation had just ended with one of my favorite finales ever, “All Good Things…” and gave us a fantastic story, adventure, and some closure for our beloved 24th century crew. The Original Series had their beautiful sendoff at the end of The Undiscovered Country. So I was hoping to see our Next Gen crew steal the show. Instead, we got an awkward sendoff on the Enterprise-B with Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov. No Spock, no Uhura, no Sulu. Kirk is killed-ish and everyone is sad. The Enterprise-D crew, on the other hand, seems to just be on a normal mission, nothing too exciting. In fact, NOTHING could have really happened in the rest of the film if it wasn’t for one simple thing…. CHECK GEORDI’S VISOR! The guy had just been held as a prisoner on a Klingon ship and no one checks to see if he is bugged? Between Data, Worf, and Dr. Crusher… no one thought about this? Okay, so an old, small Bird of Prey (which the original Enterprise could have taken out easily according to Christopher Lloyd) destroys the Federation’s flagship with a couple of torpedoes. Meanwhile, Kirk and Picard are in the “do whatever we want to do” Nexus and somehow forget how to fight. I mean, I assume they have to be disoriented by the Nexus or something. Otherwise, why can’t they take down Soran in a 2-on-1 confrontation? Then, Kirk has his real death which echoes The Finale Frontier. You see, he always knew he’d die alone and here he is, alone on a planet… except for Picard and Soran, but I suppose he could have meant alone as in not with friends he loved like Spock and Bones. In the end, we got a movie that was not as good as the series finale, that didn’t know how to focus on the old and new at the same time and brought us a story filled with plot holes and vagueness with a relatively boring score and stale action sequences. But hey, it did give us yet another excuse to destroy the Enterprise.

I give it 4 trips through the Nexus to save the Enterprise crew.

10. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The space opera that started it all. The Motion Picture was the franchise’s epic return and they did so following the steps of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. Let’s talk about the good first. The film is beautiful. We have wonderful models and practical effects, as well as a gorgeous model of the Enterprise. The score is fantastic. Seriously. So much so that it was reused over and over including in The Next Generation as their main theme. So for those two factors, the movie is very successful. Unfortunately, the story, length, and costume design ruin it for everyone. The story was originally intended to be a 50ish minute episode for Star Trek: Phase II but since that didn’t happen, the story was extended to be a full motion picture (and then extended again for the Collector’s Edition) and additional scenes were added so Spock could have a more prominent role. Leonard Nimoy was originally not interested in returning to the franchise after the end of The Animated Series. Remember the scene in Spaceballs when they make fun of how long the ship is? Well, V’ger is definitely longer. The movie goes on forever with long, spanning shots, quiet pondering moments, suspense, any excuse to take up more screen time. Then we have the costumes. We went from the now classic look of the TV series to pajamas in space, all bland colors and tones…. except for Kirk, of course. And for most of the movie, Ilia, one of the only new characters, is essentially in a bathrobe. Of course, there is the cool non-canon book theory that this is what start the Borg. Make that canon and this movie becomes significantly more important. Check out the “Origins” section for more details and definitely read William Shatner’s “The Return”.

I give it 4 ten minute sweeping shots of the big budget ship models.

9. Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Ah yes, the second film in the JJ-verse. I don’t like this movie. In fact, I wanted to rate it dead last but I’m trying to be fair. The film is definitely more watchable than The Finale Frontier or The Motion Picture and more interesting than Generations, but it fails across the board. First, you take the alternate timeline concept from the 2009 film and instead of using that freedom, you just remake The Wrath of Khan BUT some of it is flipped! What a twist! You take a wonderful actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, give him a unique story, name, and motivation. Then you “surprise” us with him actually being Khan with a big reveal that means nothing to the characters (since THEY HAVEN’T ACTUALLY MET BEFORE) and mainly annoys fans who would actually know who he is. You give him motivations that actually kind of justify what he is doing, have him invent something that makes starships a waste of time, and turn the only two female characters into sex symbols that argue with their boyfriends in front of their captain. In all, the movie insults The Wrath of Khan, the audience, and the only two female characters all while trying to make Shatner’s old, campy KHAN yell into something that’s supposed to be intense, sad, and emotional. I laughed. Most of the theater laughed. I’m sorry. I love the cast. I love the uniforms. I even love the Enterprise design. This story bombed.

I give it 4 relatives trapped inside long range torpedoes but I’ll just transport to my destination and place a bomb because warp drive is slow now.

8. Star Trek: Nemesis

Star Trek: Nemesis

Personally, I think this film is very underrated and people are too quick to judge it. The bad? Well, we don’t need a car chase scene in Star Trek unless it’s with space ships and even then… only maybe… I’m looking at you, Justin Lin. Also, bringing back Data with B-4 was both cool and disappointing at the same time. Data’s death was very important and I will defend it to the end. He completed his journey in becoming human by sacrificing himself for Picard, his friend, mentor, and leader. I loved it. Bringing him back is both cool for us, people who love the character, and also disappointing because it takes a little something away from his original sacrifice. I thought Tom Hardy was a great casting choice. I loved the story, the cast, the special effects. It would have been nice to see Riker’s ship at the end but hey, I can dream. Overall, it was a darker tone that tried to end a generation’s journey in a way that we could respect, in a way that was somewhat final and I believe it did that, though not perfectly. Unfortunately, its tone and the state of the franchise at the time makes this feel more forgettable than it deserves.

I give it 5 Dr. Soong androids searching for purpose.

7. Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

 

The biggest complaint I hear about this movie is that it’s just one long episode. Why is that bad? Most Trekkies and Trekkers agree that Star Trek belongs on TV. So a long episode sounds great and I think it was. The story is Trek at its best with the crew standing up against incredible odds to protect those who are in need. The script was solid, with some great dialogue for the main cast members, jokes, and singing. In fact, the scene aboard the Captain’s Yacht when the crew catches Picard is one of my favorite Trek scenes period. We had a classic villain in the form of F. Murray Abraham’s Ru’afo and a solid contrast to the normal Federation with Admiral Dougherty. I felt that the chemistry between the cast was at its height and that showed through to the story. But yes, I could have done without the lame joystick console in the middle of the bridge. Either way, great action sequence with Riker and Geordi having some fun. Everyone gets a chance to shine but Geordi gets one of the best moments when he gets to see a sunrise for the first time with functional eyes and later when he says he can’t hurt these people to keep that gift. They are the crew I want and the crew we need. “Saddle up, lock and load.”

I give it 7 extra warp cores in case of isolytic bursts.

6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

There are some fun and exciting moments in this film. Seeing everyone in various forms of dress helped support the cowboy diplomacy methods they use throughout the film. Scotty’s last second attempt at opening the spacedock doors is always an enjoyable scene. Christoper Lloyd makes for a fantastic Klingon and villain. His sarcastic attitude and lack of fear fits the character well. I’m not sure the damage done to the Enterprise after a single hit makes any sense regardless of how wired up Scotty had to make things. The ship did make it to spacedock on its own, remember? Overall, this is a good Trek movie. They kill off Kirk’s son, which was a fairly annoying character anyway and replace him with Kirk’s personal hatred for Klingons that would resurface in the sixth film. Robin Curtis did a decent job replacing Kirstie Alley but she didn’t give off the same, authentic Vulcan vibe. In general, I’m happy with this film but it does have some awkward moments and the ending sums things up a little too easily. Blow up the Enterprise, trick last remaining officer on Klingon ship, kick bad guy off a cliff. Very easy. I’m also a little confused by the planet’s changes. First off, where did the star it’s orbiting come from? But that aside, things like snow, desert lands, etc. come from the planet’s orbit and axis orientation to its star. It doesn’t have much to do with it’s actual stability, but hey, I’m not a geologist or scientist. I truly love the reversal of the Vulcan proverb, the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many. Also… everyone realizes that Saavik and young Spock fooled around, right?

I give it 7 year Pon farr cycles.

5. Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek (2009)

J.J. Abrams’ first film makes it into the top five. Congrats to him and Bad Robot. I enjoyed the 2009 Trek film a lot. Honestly. It’s bright, fun, exciting, and I felt it truly honored what came before and what they were trying to echo. I also loved the little time travel loop hole they used to create an alternate timeline. It gave them complete and legitimate right to change events (to a degree) without people crying “canon!” I really enjoyed the updated looks, whether it was the all-new Enterprise, the new uniforms, or even the Apple Store bridge. I thought the style worked well and gave the franchise a sense of coolness that the wasn’t there before. While some of the decisions, like the destruction of Vulcan, seemed a bit outlandish, even for Trek. And yes, the Red Matter was just an overly simple plot device that was way too convenient for its own good. With that said, I loved seeing Nimoy reprise his role of Spock and I enjoyed the double-Spock moments. The casting was also spot on. Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin were all fantastic choices for our rebooted crew. Eric Bana played a fantastic villain and it was nice to see the Romulans finally get some big screen action. Think about it. In twelve films, the Klingons show up in half of them, seven if you count the Bird of Prey in The Voyage Home. Romulans only show up twice and one time they were led by Picard’s human clone. Finally, Bruce Greenwood was a solid choice for Captain\Admiral Pike and they were able to throw a lot of little Easter Eggs throughout the film for long-time fans. One last thing, the poster pictured above is definitely one of my favorite movie posters, hands down.

I give it 7 time travel paradoxes wrapped up in a bow.

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

“Captain, there be whales here!” That pretty much sums up the movie. This “period piece” Trek film is great. It’s fun, lighthearted, enjoyable, and exciting. We see our crew break out of the more strict rules of the Federation and be themselves a bit. Kirk tries to curse, they visit a pawn shop, we get some great Cold War-era jokes with Chekov, we see a different Enterprise, and Spock swims with some whales, all while we using a fairly convenient and little lame time travel technique used once before. What I love about this film is its human and humorous moments. We left the darker, grittier tone from the first three films and just had some fun. For the most part, each crew member gets their moments but a particular focus is put on Bones, Scotty, and Chekov, which is nice. I love the scenes when Bones and Scotty are looking for tank enclosures and they give up the formula for transparent aluminum (which is actually a thing now!). I truly feel like this movie provides everyone the opportunity to shine as their true Trek-selves while providing a fun and enjoyable story set in a unique place for Trek, 1980’s San Francisco. The addition of Catherine Hicks was also great. I was a little sad they never returned to her character. The end of the film is exciting and uplifting with the terrible storms and the whales singing their songs. It’s a feel-good Trek film and there’s nothing wrong with that. The sequel book, “Probe”, leaves much to be desired, however.

I give it 8 slingshots around the sun for some whales.

3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Alright, the rankings here are getting tough. I want to say that I truly love everything in the top four. Any day of the week I could watch all of them and be very happy. With that said, Wrath of Khan hits at number three. It’s a fantastic film and great sequel to The Original Series episode “Space Seed.” Richardo Montalban is phenomenal. Hands down. He’s epic. He’s crazy. He’s vengeful. He’s perfect. The movie is shot very well with some fantastic music. Plus, it introduces my favorite Trek uniform, the classic red naval style uniforms used in half of the Trek films to date. The space battles between the Enterprise and Reliant were also great, and the level of camp that does exist works because of the time and cast. Kirk’s “KHAN” scream works so well here because it’s Shatner in 1982. Khan’s epic monologues are a bit cheesy but also brilliant and Shakespearean. But let’s not forget the end. The famous end where we lose Spock. His sacrifice in the face of certain death, the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few… or the one. The scene with Kirk and Spock separated is emotional, just incredibly so. Everyone feels it, the cast, the crew, the audience… everyone. I don’t think there are enough positive things I can say about this movie. Spock’s death, the balance of Kirk and Khan, the misleading repair timetables on open channels, the hide and seek in the Mutara Nebula, “the odds will be even.” I love an underdog, especially when it’s my Enterprise crew.

I give it 9 stab at thees from hell’s heart.

2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The end of an era. After the failure of The Final Frontier, I will be forever grateful that we were given a sixth film because it’s one of the best. Even if you don’t agree with all of my rankings here, you have to admit that this film has to be one of the top two of the franchise. The concept alone is fantastic. A Klingon Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked during a time when the Federation and the Klingon Empire are attempting to find peace, the parallels to Shakespeare, the addition of Christopher Plummer. There are so many fantastic moments. The special effects were great, the score was fantastic, and the cast and crew did a perfect job in their true finale. Even though Shatner and Takei were not on good terms, they were able to find a resolution that actually added to the film. The opening sequence with the Excelsior and Praxis blowing up was so cool. Bringing in Kim Cattrall as a spy was a great plot point too. The conspiracy, the diplomacy, the action, the respect between Chang and Kirk, I loved every moment of it. If I have any complaints, it’s due to the production of the Blu-Rays because the boxset does NOT include the Director’s Cut of the film which changes the end quite drastically. In the Director’s Cut, Rene Auberjonois’ Colonel West (he went on to play Odo) is responsible for working with the Klingons to kill the president of the Federation and stop the peace talks. This is all cut and we are led to think it was just another Klingon in the theatrical cut. At the end of the day, there are some fantastic action sequences, solid speeches, and a little theatrical drama. What better way to end the original generation’s journey?

I give it 9 heat seeking modified torpedoes looking for a tailpipe.

1. Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

This is where our journey comes to an end today. First Contact is by far the best Next Generation film and for me, it’s the best overall Trek movie. Why? Well, it wins across the board. It’s dark, serious, well-written, well-acted and directed (thank you, Jonathan Frakes), and focuses on the scariest and more challenging of the Star Trek villains, the Borg. Patrick Stewart is at the top of his game. The continuation of Picard’s assimilation story is stressful, emotional, and scary for the character. He must overcome the stigma everyone else has placed on him and help save the Federation and all of mankind. The special effects, especially of the brand new Enterprise-E and the updated Borg are phenomenal. Alice Krige as the Borg Queen is the definition of what they embody. She is deceitful, strong-willed, powerful, but also alluring to some. The story arc with Data is very engaging and there were moments when I thought maybe we had lost our android friend. James Cromwell, who had been in Trek as different characters before, was the perfect Cochrane, someone who just wanted to do his own thing, get away from it all but had history thrust upon him. This movie brought the best of Trek on the big screen with a big screen budget and updated special effects. It put together a movie that could be enjoyed by longtime Trekkies and Trekkers but also the mainstream audiences who wanted something a little more action packed from their sci-fi. The score is beautiful as well. It provided a sense of wonder and anxiety all at the same time. They even threw in some Klingon themed music for Worf’s bigger moments. And just tell me that the confrontation between Picard and Worf was not awesome. It showed the drive and willpower of Picard with the respect and honor Worf had for their relationship. This was incredibly powerful. Trek is best when it tackles complex social issues. The comparisons to “Moby Dick” were spot on. Picard had been hurt by the Borg, by the Queen and he was seeking revenge. While The Wrath of Khan saw the villain out for revenge, First Contact saw our hero, our diplomatic Captain Picard, set out for his own. The rest of the cast did a great job but the focus of the film is really on Picard, turning him into a significantly more emotionally complex character that, I believe, was carried on in Insurrection.

I give it 10 quantum torpedoes in the hull of a Borg sphere.

Summary

There you have it, folks. My Star Trek movie rankings. This was not an easy list to compile. I’ve thought it through several times and a couple movies move a spot or two but all-in-all, I am confident that this list took as much into consideration as possible. I was brought up on Trek. I own four copies of the original six films and three of the next four (different formats, releases, etc.). I own all but Deep Space Nine on DVD or Blu-Ray, and that’s just due to the cost. I’ve seen every episode except for the last two of The Animated Series, and that’s because I want to know that there is still Trek out there I haven’t seen. I own several soundtracks from the shows and films, countless action figures, and ships. Star Trek is incredibly important to who I am, and it helped shape me into the person I grew up to be.

I hope you enjoyed this ranking and please comment below with your own thoughts and your own ranking. Everyone has a different perspective, as Trek tried to teach us, and I’d love to read yours.

May you live long and prosper. \\\///

Make it so.

Ranking All 12 Star Trek Movies

5 Things We Can Deduct From the Star Wars VII San Diego Comic Con Reel

Despite two teasers and the newly released comic con reel, we still know very little about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Nevertheless, there are a few things we learned from the reel that should shed some light on the plot. Without further ado, here are five things we can deduct from the Star Wars comic con reel:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. The new TIE fighters have seen better days.

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

J.J. Abrams has told us that this new planet is Jakku and that a great battle was fought on this planet. However, the smoking TIE fighters show us that someone has shot them down. Perhaps the Millennium Falcon during that chase we have seen in both teasers?

2. This is Carrie Fisher’s costume.

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

A rumor was floating around for awhile that this was indeed her costume. Like it or not, the reel has confirmed that this is what her costume will look like… even though it strangely resembles the uniforms the Rebel Troopers wore in A New Hope.

Rebel Troopers from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Rebel Troopers from Star Wars: A New Hope.

3. Kylo Ren definitely comes to Jakku.

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

You can see here that Kyle Ren is walking down onto a desert landscape. Since Abrams has told us that it is not Tatooine, we can assume that it must be Jakku. Maybe we’ll see some lightsaber fights on the planet?

4. Rey flies the Millennium Falcon solo.

Rey falcon

Both pictures courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

You can very clearly see the entrance to the cockpit of the Falcon in this shot. Both pictures courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

This shot shows what is clearly the Falcon’s cockpit and that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is flying it. So why is she flying it alone? One of my theories is that Rey is in fact the daughter of Han and Leia. For some reason, she steals the Falcon and takes it to Jakku. Mind you, that is only a theory. All we know for sure is that she flies it with no one else in the cockpit.

5. Han will fly the Millennium Falcon with Rey and Finn.

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

Courtesy Disney Comic Con Reel

Piggybacking off of the fact that Rey flies the Falcon solo, it would seem that Solo himself joins her and that she is co-piloting. Going off of my previous theory, is Han reclaiming his property? At the end of the second teaser, he does say, “Chewie, we’re home.” This implies that they had been separated from the Falcon for some time. Maybe Rey doesn’t even steal the Falcon. Maybe Han gives it to her while he goes into temporary retirement. No matter the reason, we shall find out when the movie hits theaters this December.

5 Things We Can Deduct From the Star Wars VII San Diego Comic Con Reel

The Grid Ranks: Marvel Cinematic Universe

We at The Grid have ranked the Marvel Cinematic movies from favorite to least favorite.  There were arguments, folks. Hair pulling, fisticuffs, the works. We may not be friends anymore.

Nah, just kidding.  It was a fairly easy consensus for all of us. Disclaimer: None of the MCU movies have been bad. It’s not like we’re talking Daredevil here (the Ben Affleck film, not the new Netflix series, of course).  All of them were impressive feats of cinema and will most likely continue that into Phase 3!

Marvel_Cinematic_Universe_logo

Now! On with the list!

Iron_Man_2_Poster11. Iron Man 2 – If any other movie had been its predecessor, this film would be much higher on the list, because, like we said before, it wasn’t bad.  The few missteps taken were just enough, though, for us to lose our hype from Iron Man.  We all just wanted it too much for it to be amazing and when it didn’t live up to Tony Stark’s first outing, we were all just a little disappointed.  The film scores points for being a prologue to Avengers and introducing us to Black Widow.

Overall ranking: one Ex Wife missile

 

10. Incredible Hulk – This movie just was not handled well. The great ideas behind it seemed to get masked by the overall theme of sadness.  We all know the Hulk is a pretty sad guy, butMV5BMTUyNzk3MjA1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE1Njg2MQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_ he’s also a brilliant scientist with a sense of humor who’s actually pretty easy to love…wait, that’s Banner. The Hulk is about the smashing! The balance between Banner and the Hulk was so off and poor Edward Norton just didn’t have it in him to be as interesting as his counterpart.  It was a very smart move to not have another origins film.  Even though everyone can agree the Ang Lee film never did any justice to the Hulk, redoing the origins of a character we already know is questioning the fan’s love and knowledge.

Overall ranking: two Hulks hulking out on the hulking streets

 

MV5BMjIzMzAzMjQyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzM2NjcyOQ@@._V1._SY317_9. Iron Man 3 – It was the ending to this film that places it so low on the list.  We had been promised Mandarin.  We had been promised Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin.  Tell me there is better casting for that role (at least that particular interpretation)?  There really isn’t. But to pull the worst bait and switch in comic cinema to date made every single movie-goer say “WTF” out loud. This act was so egregious that the only thing that saved this from being last on the list was the All Hail the King one shot available on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier home release.  That made us all feel so much better inside. It made the bad things go away.

Overall ranking: take three shots of Extremis and call me in the morning

MV5BMTQyNzAwOTUxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE0OTc5OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_8. Thor: The Dark World – Let’s get one thing straight: it’s the title of this film that is the worst part about it.  You could have named this anything else and it would have worked out much better. Seriously. Thor and Loki’s Excellent AdventureStraight Outta Asgard. Weekend at Malekith’s. All of those are better options.  They also managed to make Jane Foster annoying, which is really bothersome considering how much they improved the character with the first film.  The film also cut out a major missing plot point, which was the true motive behind Malekith’s actions. A director’s cut of the Dark World would most likely bump this up a few notches. Thank goodness we got to see much needed depth to Thor and Loki’s characters, major damage to a city that is not New York, and deserved respect for the great side characters of Asgard.

Overall ranking: four lightning strikes to Malekith

MV5BMTYzOTc2NzU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY3MDE3NQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_7. Captain America: The First Avenger – This movie may have lacked the depth of Iron Man and the glory of Thor, but it made up for it by grasping the true nature of what a hero is.  Evans’s first go as Captain America continued Marvel’s trend of perfectly casting their characters. He also managed to uphold everything that makes Captain America interesting and special.  But the best reason to watch this film was unarguably Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull.  His interpretation of the character was everything it needed to be: imposing, misguided, and terrifying.  It’s the reason why his death is debated constantly among fans.  We’re all overtly hoping he returns again despite every shred of evidence he will not.

Overall ranking: five shields to the Red Skull’s red skull

MV5BMTYxMjA5NDMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk2Mjk3NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_6. Thor – Asgard was beautiful.  The costumes were beautiful.  The effects were beautiful. Chris Hemsworth was beautiful.  Okay, maybe not everyone is on board with that last bit, but everything else is true.  This addition to the MCU brought us the first look into a world away from Earth, something that resonated throughout the MCU since.  Director Kenneth Branagh took his Shakespearean background and elegant wit and baked it into a two hour long spectacle that was incredible to behold.  It also introduced us to a man who has become the pride and joy of the MCU: Tom Hiddleston.  His work as Loki has really been impressive. Not only has he gathered a fan base all on his own, but he has managed to take that popularity and force himself into other movies in the overall universe.  No other villain has done that!

Overall ranking: six more shirtless scenes, thank you!

MV5BMTU4MDU3NDQ5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5MDUxNTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_5. Avengers: Age of Ultron – The newest MCU addition lands right above the halfway point in our list.  While many critics (most notably fan critics) take issue with the film, we don’t.  For many reasons, the film achieved its purpose of being bigger, better, grander and it did all of that with the odds stacked against it. Since then the movie and director Joss Whedon have taken multiple beatings for complaint this and complaint that, which to us seem unnecessary.  The Avengers faced challenges previously unknown to them and came out with more respect for each other and the world around them.  While rumors of a three hour long director’s cut swirl, we were happy with what we got and what this film did to set up films to come.

Overall ranking: seven Ultrons on a floating city

Ironmanposter4.  Iron Man –  While it is often lauded as the best Marvel film to date, Iron Man remains special because of its individuality.  Never before had we seen such perfect casting.  Never before had we seen such a well-thought out superhero movie.  This movie proved to more than just the fans that comic book films could be taken as seriously as its sci-fi, drama, and action peers.  This was the film that got the rest of the world watching superheroes.  The credit for this film goes to everyone involved, but none more so that Robert Downey, Jr. Every minute that man was on screen, he loved it.  And we all could tell.  It makes the movie that much more enjoyable when an actor is just as big of a fan as the collective audience is.  Not to mention this is the film that brought us Agent Coulson, which could have been enough.

Overall ranking: eight arc reactors built in a cave

MV5BMzA2NDkwODAwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk5MTgzMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_3.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier – There’s not really anything negative one can say about this film.  This movie made Captain America more than the boy scout.  It made him a bona fide superhero.  Of course, he was heroic before, but this film made his character stand above the others.  Watching Cap in his predecessor films was pleasing, but this one made him seem as if he legitimately can go toe-to-toe with Thor and Iron Man, something which neither The First Avenger or Avengers had done before.  He was and always will be the fearless leader (it’s why everyone follows him so quickly, why we put our trust in him), but this film raised the bar for the Marvel movies to come.  We now hold Captain America to a higher standard than he has been before and Marvel plots must match that standard too.

Overall ranking: nine Hydra agents exposed

MV5BMTAwMjU5OTgxNjZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDUxNDYxODEx._V1_SX214_AL_2. Guardians of the Galaxy – The movie that was considered by so many to be Marvel’s first guaranteed flop came out of the gates kicking ass and destroyed box office numbers (it’s apparently a Chris Pratt thing).  This epic ensemble took the overall ridiculous premise and ran with it, never looking back.  From the beginning, viewers are strapped in and ready to adventure into the unknown with five of Marvel’s oddest characters to date. (Yes, we read comics. Yes, we know there’s weirder. Yes, we know the difference between weird and dumb.)  Then without any warning, Sean Gunn brings us an emotional overload that no one was expecting.  Who knew we’d ever get so attached to a tree?  We’ve all got high hopes for that sequel!

Overall ranking: ten Groot hugs

That means that the number one spot goes to…

MV5BMTk2NTI1MTU4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg0OTY0Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_1. Avengers – That’s right. It totally had to be and you know it.  This film was every nerd’s dream come true.  This film was the culmination of our hopes and dreams (as far as movie magic goes; let’s not get ridiculous here).  We got captivating characters who had come together in a logical, respectful, and interesting story.  We got cheeky comic moments and nudges to fans of every hero of every medium.  Joss Whedon, along with every actor, producer, and extra, poured his soul into making this film the glorious spectacle it needed to be, and we can’t thank him enough.  It’s because of this movie that a Phase 2 was possible and why we’re going to finally see DC films create a universe of their own.  This movie made it possible for ensemble action films to exist without lengthy exposition or dull segues.

Overall ranking: eleven more Avengers films!

Did we hit the nail on the head? Did we have things out of order? Tell us how you’d rank the Marvel films!

The Grid Ranks: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Top 5 Boss Themes

The door thunders and opens. Inside, the villain awaits you. He or she says something clever, gets angry, and then you fight. In that moment, as the villain lunges toward you, the music picks up and fuels your adrenaline as you draw your weapon and battle your enemy. For this article, here is my top 5 favorite boss music themes. I will go from my least favorite to my most favorite. Just know that I absolutely love them all. . .

5. Tomb Raider Anniversary

The Tomb Raider Anniversary boss was a difficult one for me in part because I had not fully mastered some of the special moves. There was much dying on my part and beating on pillows or whatever else was next to me. However, one thing that kept me going was the music. The music was a choir that illustrated Natla’s ultimate desire for world domination.

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4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 has you chasing the final boss, who happens to be voiced by Lance Henriksen, in a boat down a river filled with all of his cronies. The desperate theme pumps your adrenaline as you chase down this general with an “ends justify the means” attitude. No enemies or obstacles will keep you from taking this guy down!

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3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic’s music does a perfect job at illustrating your completion of this enormous game. Not only does it reflect the epic nature of the battle taking place between you and Malak, it also shows that your fate is not the only one hanging in the balance. There is a massive battle for the Republic happening right outside the space station as you fight. The fate of your battle with Malak could ultimately decide the fate of the battle beyond.

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2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ganondorf’s boss theme reflected the happenings of the environment around you. It also painted Ganondorf’s use of the power of the Triforce. It makes you feel like the battle is impossible as he throws his magic at you. Yet, there is a small glimmer of hope.

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1. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

The Sands of Time still remains as my all-time favorite boss battle music. The music reveals to you that, sorcery or not, you know you can beat this old man. You can also hear the deception of the vizier through small sections in the music. He is the one who influenced the Prince to cause all this trouble in the first place. Along with the amazing percussion and Middle Eastern flavor, this music has got to be one of the best boss battle themes of all time.

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Do you have any boss themes you think should have been added? Feel free to post them in the comments.

Top 5 Boss Themes

Heroes Reborn Trailer is Here!

Heroes Reborn looks impressive.

I know what you’re thinking.  How can we trust this new series when the old one went downhill so fast?  Well, I’ve got five reasons why you should give Heroes Reborn a chance.

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5. The plotline sounds amazing. Based on the summary alone, I can tell they’ve realized the mistakes of the first series and have done their best to rectify them. Check out the official NBC synopsis:

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Two such vigilantes include Luke (Zachary Levi, “Chuck”) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2“), who are seeking to avenge a tragic loss.

Noah Bennet, aka H.R.G. (Jack Coleman, “Heroes”), has gone off the grid but conspiracy theorist Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski, “A to Z”) finds him and opens his eyes to the truth behind the Odessa tragedy.

While in hiding, some are discovering their newfound skills. Awkward teen Tommy (Robbie Kay, “Once Upon a Time”) just wants to be normal and win the girl of his dreams, Emily (Gatlin Green, “Criminal Minds”), but normalcy is virtually impossible after learning of a new ability that terrifies him. Coming from a very sheltered upbringing, a bold and ethereal teenager, Malina (Danika Yarosh, “Shameless”), has been told she is destined for greatness. In Tokyo, a quiet and unique young woman, Miko (Kiki Sukezane, “Death Yankee 3”), is trying to track down her missing father while hiding an extraordinary secret that will make her a force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere, a different type of hero is emerging through former soldier Carlos (Ryan Guzman, “The Boy Next Door“).

Meanwhile, Erica (Rya Kihlstedt, “Masters of Sex”), the head of the highly successful tech conglomerate Renautas, has an agenda of her own.

For better or for worse, some are fated to cross paths with assorted heroes of the past, including Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis), among others. Yet, together, their ultimate destiny is nothing less than saving the world and mankind.

Joining Kring are executive producers James Middleton (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) and Peter Elkoff (“Sons of Anarchy”). “Heroes Reborn” is produced by Imperative Entertainment, in association with Universal Television.

11194536_10153368273958189_8431127769755967874_o4. The cast is really well thought out. It takes a lot to run a well-done ensemble show and most shows do not get it right (insert obligatory nod to Joss Whedon here), including Heroes. What they have done with Heroes Reborn, though is incredibly smart.  They have taken characters from the first series with the most interesting powers, backgrounds, and storylines and continued them here.  We’re getting Parkman, Suresh, The Haitian, Noah, and Hiro back!  These characters were all connected to other favorites, so we know that while they may not appear, there’s a chance we’ll still get to know what happened to Claire and Peter.  The majority of the cast are all newcomers to this world, but enormously talented.  You can’t go wrong when your show’s main character is played by Zachary Levi.

3. The shortened season gives way for tighter storytelling and better action. Gone are the days of 22 episodes per season and time-waste fillers – or at least they should be. The shows that have tried this “mini-series” approach have been wildly successful, including The Walking Dead and Sleepy Hollow. It’s a way for the studios to test fan waters without drowning themselves in overwhelmingly awful TV decisions.  In no way does this mean we won’t see more.  In fact, if the pilot episode’s numbers are even remotely high, they’ll greenlight a second season soon after.  If you feel like you’re missing anything from it (a character didn’t get the attention it deserved or what have you), don’t fret; there’s also a companion web series on NBC.com and a comic set to debut as well.

2. Tim Kring is back! The creator of the original series was a driving force in its success and will be a huge part in this series. While the WGA writers’ strike killed the second season, it was Kring and his creative team that got season three back on track. His involvement in this continuation leads me to believe that the 13 episodes will be some of the best TV this fall.

1. That trailer! That music! Those scenes! I just… watch it for yourself and tell me you don’t want to see this show!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHClJhC8Wfs

 

Heroes Reborn debuts on NBC September 24, 2015.

 

Heroes Reborn Trailer is Here!

James Horner’s Top 5 Musical Scores

James Horner’s prolific work spans over three decades. Choosing five of his works hardly seems fair since he has A LOT to choose from. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather my personal favorites from his works. So, without further ado and in no particular order…

1. An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

I can trace this back to the earliest James Horner score I truly started listening to. Watching this movie, the music stood out to me as a wonderful background template for all of Fievel’s adventures. From the creepy sewer ride to the epic chimes used in the wild west gunfights, this score is a masterful ode to all Westerns that came before.

2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I first watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan just after seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I was convinced no one could do better than Jerry Goldsmith. I was actually expecting James Horner to use most of Goldsmith’s themes from the original; however, as I watched the vastness of space envelope my television screen, I heard Alexander Courage’s old theme, which I thought was a nice touch. But then! Then I heard Horner’s original theme for the movie. It was perfect! It was not better or worse than Jerry Goldsmith’s theme. It was its very own. This started a trend for Star Trek movies in which different composers would not recycle the themes of previous ones. Rather, they made Trek their own, the most recent being Michael Giacchino for the Abrams-verse films.

3. Aliens

Once again, Horner was taking the reigns of the music from Jerry Goldsmith; however, in this case, Aliens was a completely different movie than Alien. Horner established a sort of slow and oncoming creepiness in his work in this film when it was needed, but during the action sequences, it was off the handle, complete with an epic theme for Ripley’s escape from the alien nest.

4. Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger represents the last of the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan movies and, to many, the last Jack Ryan movie at all. This was a very sincere score which matched the film’s theme of Jack Ryan’s honesty in everything, despite being pressured by the government to do otherwise. In a way, the score perfectly captured the true patriotism of serving your country as well as the hand-in-hand need for integrity.

5. The Rocketeer

If there is one word that can be used to summarize James Horner’s work for The Rocketeer, it would be “flight.” Soaring through the clouds and fighting to take down the diabolical Nazi plan, this score throws all of it together is a delightful mix.

As I said before, this is not an exhaustive list. James Horner has composed many other fantastic scores. Which ones were your favorites? Feel free to mention them in the comments.

 

James Horner’s Top 5 Musical Scores