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Zero Escape 3: What We Know So Far

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In my circle of friends, I am the only one that has not yet played the Zero Escape series. As anyone who has ever been the odd man out like this, you know that this is pretty inconsequential. You will get a systematic recap of the events ad nauseam from every member of your circle of friends who insists that with this telling, you will finally be convinced that your life is incomplete without it. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but if you need someone to write a breakdown of exactly what is going on and why people are excited/upset about it, I’m your man. The Zero Escape series is the exception that proves the rule, as I still have no idea what is going on in this game despite dozens of breakdowns. I actually am writing this while sitting in a room with one of my buddies that has played the game, and this is what I can gather:

In 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, there are 9 people stuck on a ship, and each of them has a bracelet with a number on it. Every character has a pseudonym based on the number on their bracelet, so Ace is 1, Snake is 2, etc. Some of the names don’t make sense, because the cleverness doesn’t carry over from Japanese. They have to go into rooms with numbers on them in groups of 3-5, and all of their numbers have to add up and reduce to the number on the door. So if a room has a “5” on it, then bracelets 1, 6, and 7 can go in, since 1+6+7=14, and 1+4=5. One of them is a killer and set up the whole game, and they are called Zero, who isn’t wearing a bracelet that is numbered 0, but is actually someone in the group with a different bracelet. The game takes multiple playthroughs to beat, since knowledge the player gains in each ending influences what you can choose in subsequent playthroughs. There’s something about the Tiatanic’s sister ship the Gigantic, and an ancient mummy curse. Then it turns out that it’s all about time traveling psychic projections caused by “morphic fields”, and you have to save a past version of someone so that everyone can be saved in the future. The second game, Virtue’s Last Reward is basically the same plot, but backwards.

999

What I also know is that the game has gotten really stellar reviews. Everyone that plays it swears by it, but not without initial resistance. I bought it for my girlfriend at the time a while back, and after 3 straight days of hearing about how the game made no sense and was totally trash, she suddenly got what was going on in the plot and declared it was one of the most clever games she had ever played. The high barrier for entry and narrative quality has made the series a cult hit, bane of GameStop employees across the USA as they field calls from meta-nerds looking for a copy of the rare titles. Owning an original cartridge grants a kind of legendary status, along the lines of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Ico.

Unfortunately, this also made the title commercially unsuccessful. It’s always sad to see a fan favorite series peter out or have to slum it on Kickstarter to get funding, which was almost the case for the series. In February 2014, series creator Kotaro Uchikoshi stated on twitter that Zero Escape 3 had been shelved due to poor sales (read cancelled). Fans took to the internet, and created the fan group Operation Bluebird to try like so many groups before to stop the plug from being pulled on their beloved franchise. It seems like this time, nerdrage won, and Aksys Games announced that the game was back on track during their Anime Expo 2015 panel. This was an anticipated announcement, as a teaser site that went up back in March featured a countdown timer leading up to their panel.

virtue's last reward

There’s still very little available on the game, as even the teaser site says nothing about what to expect other than “Coming Summer 2016”. IGN scored an interview with Uchikoshi, where they sussed out a little more information on what to expect. Here’s what he said:

“Your way of thinking, values, virtues will be intensely [shaken] during this game. This game is even more philosophical than the past volumes. Of course it’ll be entertaining too! I intend to answer every mystery left during VLR and the mysteries in ZE3 would be solved as well. This game will not end in a cliffhanger. However please take it as one break…if there are still fans requesting, I can not deny that there will not be new incidents arriving either. As a story [Zero Escape] will definitely end at Volume 3.”

In regards to the series story as a whole, this is what he had to say:

“I wasn’t thinking of doing a continuation during 999. However thanks to fans world wide giving the game a high praise it grew into a series. I am very thankful for this. Especially for Volume 2 and 3, my intentions were them being paired as a set so I really wanted to make Volume 3 happen.

Virtue’s Last Reward ended on a cliffhanger, so failing to complete the series would be Shenmue-riffic. Narrative games build their legions with both excellent storytelling and gut wrenching unanswered questions, so when they die it crushes more dreams than a cosplay star meets fans charity event. If you are a fan of visual novels and somehow haven’t played the series yet, pick it up. If you aren’t and want an interesting narrative experience, check out 999 on the iOS and Virtue’s Last Reward on the 3DS or Vita. I’ll have more news on this as it develops, so keep an eye out, and maybe we’ll even have a title soon!

zero escape 3

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – First Trailer and Artwork!

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As a fan of flicks like Mad Monster Party, I was surprisingly pleased with the last two Hotel Transylvania affairs. For my money you can put the classic monsters in just about anything, and I’ll watch it happily, and these animated features feel like a natural progression of the 1967 Rankin and Bass classic. Which is why I’m looking forward to Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and if you are too, check out the film’s new trailer and poster.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who co-wrote the film with Michael McCullers, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, and Mel Brooks.

Look for it in theaters on July 13, 2018.

Synopsis:
In Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans.

But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

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