Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Ben’s Movie Pick: The Hobbit Trilogy – Peter Jackson’s three-part adaption of The Hobbit is undoubtedly less impressive than The Lord of the Rings, but the former still offers up plenty of Middle-Earth magic. Martin Freeman is fantastic as the titular character, Bilbo Baggins (who instantly becomes the most relatable character in any fantasy film with one expression as his dinner is ruined by the doorbell), Richard Armitage is equally awesome as the dwarven King, Thorin Oakenshield, and the pair easily rank among the best characters from either trilogy. Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is also as weird and wonderful as ever, and most of the action sequences trade in the massive scale of the one’s seen in LotR for smaller, more elaborate fights or chases (a couple of which are inventive enough to comfortably fit in any of the Pirates of the Caribbean films). And while I can’t defend all of the unnecessary story beats that Jackson and his crew threw in to stretch the relatively short book into three feature-length films, most of them are far from bad, and I actually appreciate the addition of female characters and an antagonist who has a history with Thorin. Lastly, the extended editions of the three Hobbit movies help with the flow of the story that was somewhat muddled in the theatrical cuts, making the longer versions available the best options for future viewings.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Inside Out – Inside Out is just an incredible movie through and through; I wouldn’t change a single frame of it. Disney Pixar has a well-deserved reputation for crafting compelling, emotional stories that can be seen by the whole family, each set in unique worlds filled with charming, often unforgettable characters, and Inside Out is the studio at their absolute finest. It features an ingenious narrative that’s equally imaginative, hilarious, and poignant, along with a voice cast that is outstanding from top to bottom. The animation and score are also top tier; just as colorful, captivating, and full of life as the characters. Riley, Sadness, and Joy’s journeys are completely engrossing in their entirety, and as emotionally effective as anything else you can find in Disney Pixar’s filmography (yes, even when compared to the opening of Up). On a visual, aural, and storytelling level – and in virtually every other way that matters – Inside Out is a massively successful marvel of filmmaking, and I would be genuinely amazed if any future Disney Pixar film is ever able to surpass it.
Note: I’m only calling the studio “Disney Pixar” because I know how much it bothers Zac.
Lauren’s Video Game Pick: Beat Saber – As excited as I am to play the Jurassic Park game and duel against Darth Vader, let’s face it, the only reason I’ve ever wanted a VR headset is for Beat Saber. For those who don’t know, Beat Saber is a music game in which you have to use your dual wielded lightsabers to slash through cubes coming at you similarly to notes in other rhythm games like Guitar Hero. I expected I was in for a good time, but what I didn’t predict after my first 1.5 hour session playing was how sore my arms were going to be for days following. Move aside, Ring Fit! My very unimpressive workout routine is getting an overhaul, and these shoulders are about to get SWOL. The only downside to the game is that the music catalogue isn’t quite as large as I’d hope, and as much as I love revisiting the Linkin Park songs I grew up loving (one of the few DLC packs available), I do hope that they continue to release more updates with additional tracks well into the future. That said, this is a no brainer purchase for anyone who has a VR headset, assuming there are any out there left who don’t already own the game.
Ben’s Video Game Pick: Remnant: From the Ashes – Remnant: From the Ashes is a cooperative third-person shooter that puts you in the shoes of a gun-toting warrior who seeks to defeat a race of alien invaders known as “The Root.” It’s a difficult game seeing as a single slip-up can lead to your death at the hands of a group of typical enemies even on normal mode, but if you and your partners use your items wisely and work together you can make your way through Remnant’s levels and bring down its monstrous bosses (which are the best part of the game, honestly). There are a bunch of them, and aside from the first (which is genuinely awful), the big beasties are just as fun as they are challenging, with a good chunk of them requiring my brother and I to constantly communicate during the encounters, as well as readjust our strategies after each defeat. There are some RPG elements to it as well: enemies drop items that allow you to upgrade your character’s gear, and you can use the remains of bosses to craft powerful weapons or mods that give you different abilities that can turn the tide of many combat scenarios. I would recommend Remnant: From the Ashes to anyone looking for a new co-op game to play with their online buddies.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- Middle of the Row: The Podcast episodes flashing back to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as for the newly released Promising Young Woman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.