Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) Review

So I finally played Jedi: Fallen Order and just finished it. It’s a pretty good game. The game was developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. The game takes place 5 years after the end of Revenge of the Sith during the continued hunt of jedi that survived the jedi purge that happened in that movie. The game follows Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis, who is being hunted by the Inquisitors of the Galactic Empire, specifically The Second Sister Trilla Suduri and the Ninth Sister who were trained under the tutelage of Darth Vader. Cal is joined by Greez Dritus, a pilot that takes him on his journey for the jedi holocron containing a list and locations of the force sensitive children in the galaxy. He is also joined by Cere Junda, friend of Greez and former Jedi Master, as well as the former master of Trilla. Cal is also joined on his journey by BD-1, a droid with the ability to be upgraded to help Cal throughout the story as well as the former droid of Jedi Master Eno Cordova, the Jedi that hid the holocron and left clues in the memory banks of the droid to follow. 

The story of the game is pretty effective to me. It’s a heroes journey/coming of age story for Cal. It deals with the affects of and aftermath of the Jedi purge on both Cal and Cere, as well as the affects on Trilla. The story is of Cal coming into his own as a Jedi after spending 5 years hiding his abilities from the empire. At the beginning of the story we see him in his lowest place possible, hiding on a planet as a scrapper with his friend Prauf, scraping parts of ships from the Clone Wars. This all changes when something happens that forces Cal to his his force abilities to save his friends life. This causes the Empire and Inquisitors to come to the planet they are on to look for a Jedi. This starts Cal’s journey after he loses his friend and is saved by Cere and Greez. We follow Cal on this journey of self-discovery, coming to terms with the past and his trauma, as well as his development in the force. 

The story works for me as it is a good way to also help develop the galaxy during this time, relatively close to the end of clone wars, but also before there’s an established rebellion for the galactic civil war. Just a lot of small sects of resistance without too much support at the moment. It helps establish this world that is still in a bit of war as separate forces are kind of fighting back. It also helps show the affects of the clone wars, like what we see on Dathomir with the result of the night sister slaughter by General Grevious. It gives a good excuse to travel the galaxy and go to different planets, as well as reasons to go back to those planets. It really gives the feeling that his is a star wars game with the variety in locations. 

I really enjoy the characters in the game. I feel like Cal is one of the best additions to the story that Disney has made. He’s a good character that is continuing to learn, he’s got a good amount of power as a jedi but still has room to improve. It helps that as a video game we get more time with him as well as see a lot more how he interacts with others and have a bit of a hand in how he develops. We get to play him learning and getting know others throughout the game, which really helps me like him. I also really like how we learn with him about his past as he moves past his trauma, whenever we unlock a new form of traversal or force power we get a flash back to him learning it from his Master Jaro Topal on the ship above Bracca. These are all great as we get to see the relationship Cal had with his master. Which leads to the inevitable one that we get which is done very well and one of the best times we’ve seen this happen, the flashback to Order 66. We continue to see how the Clones around him and the relationship they had, which makes that moment all the more tragic. It helps that we get to play surviving the purge. I do wish that we got to see more or Topal to see what kind of master he was, since we only really get him in the flashbacks and then again on Dathomir when Cal confronts and moves past his trauma. 

The other characters are interesting and fun, BD-1 is a great buddy droid and helps out throughout the game. Greez is a fun character, that brings some comedic relief to the game. Cere is a great and interesting character, someone else that has made mistakes in the past, which lead her Padawan to becoming the Second Sister. Another character that stopped using the force to try to avoid her mistakes, but also learning to move past them as well. The villains are cool, its interesting to see how competent the second sister is as well as how manipulative she is. It’s also cool to see how Cal being Cal can help others move from the trauma and pasts to become better. Although her kind of moving back to the light a bit leads to another great moment in the game with the emergence of Darth Vader, who is this overwhelming force of nature that the only thing you can do is run. Even as powerful as Cere is in the force and with the darkside Vader just overwhelms everyone, to the point where the only way to escape is distraction. I had seen some of of these sequences before, but playing them is a whole other ballgame. Really helps with the tension that is built in those moments. Nightsister Merrin is a good character as well, she has the cool abilities of the Nightsisters which are more magical in nature as they view the force differently than the jedi or sith do. The performances are all great in this game too, everyone brings there A-game. 

The gameplay is pretty fun. It is a metroidvania/ fromsoft style third person action/adventure game. Where the point of the game is exploring the worlds to find collectibles, secrets, and additional things to help with survival. The other point is to learn the mechanics of the game or die trying. You will die a lot in this game, especially to the bosses who can be pretty difficult if your reaction time isn’t great. I played the game on Jedi Knight difficulty, which says that it is for gamers knew to these types of games but still want a forgiving challenge. It can be challenging but does feel rewarding. And I know that I don’t know if I would have finished the story if I played on a higher difficulty. The game makes use of your lightsaber and force abilities, which you can unlock at certain story points in the game. You get 3 main force abilities and 2 forms of lightsaber combat. You can push, pull, and stop with the force, and you can go single blade lightsaber or dual blade lightsaber. There are attacks you can unlock for experience that can change this a bit, such as the ability to through your sober, and another ability that unlocks later into the game of a heavy hit that lets you attack with two cabers. Though that is only one attack vs a form of combat. The combat is pretty fun in the game, parrying attacks and projectiles can be fun and the variety of lightsaber moves that can be performed is fun. Another addition to the gameplay is BD-1, who can splice into robotic enemies when they are about to die to give you control over them. This can be helpful when fighting a large number of enemies. The exploration in the game is pretty fun. The platforming is responsive and fun to do, especially as you progress further in the game and with your abilities. The bosses can be pretty difficult. Most of them I had a couple deaths to, but the inquisitors are the hardest. I have 14 deaths to the ninth sister and 13 deaths to the Second sister in the final battle. 

The collectibles and secrets are fun to discover, to learn more about the world and to get new customization options. I think this is where a lot of my issues game come from though. The game is linear, it does give options to explore and find different things, but everything is basically only world building, or cosmetics. So even if you decide to unlock abilities at different times, eventually you’ll unlock everything. The only collectibles that are really worth going after are the essences, story stuff, and stim canisters. The essences raise you maximum force and health bars, the story stuff gives you more of the world building and more experience to unlock moves, and stim canisters give you more heals. I do feel that the customization is limited in the game as most of the unlocks are all cosmetic options. Even in new game plus when you are able to have a red lightsaber and an inquisitor outfit, that does nothing but look cool. So unless you’re a completionism, the replay value of the game is pretty low. Even though I’m thinking about doing a replay to explore a bit more. Another issue I had is that later in the game i noticed a lot of audio synch issues during the cut scenes. It can be pretty jarring during serious moments. Another issue could be the variety of enemies. The empire stuff is good as you get a variety of enemies with storm troopers with different classes and weapons, scout troopers, purge troopers, K2 Units, and probe droids. The biggest issue is that it would be cool if there were different armours for the different planets. I know I probably didn’t face every boss in the game, but a lot of them are bounty hunters that play the same, or are animals that are bigger version of regular enemies. It can be a little repetitive. 

Some other little things, the visuals are great in the game. It’s gorgeous and the different locals are different and bring a different feeling to each planet. The music is pretty good throughout the game, giving good moments and also makes use of some movie scores which is pretty good.

Over-all I’d say Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a pretty good game, a fun experience over-all that I think is worth the play. Especially if you have Xbox Game Pass as it’s on there. I give it two thumbs up, if I were to give it a score it would probably be 7/10. I was going to give it an 8/10 but the customization limitations bring it down. 

Jungle Cruise (2021) Review

So I saw Jungle Cruise on Saturday and I have to say that I enjoyed it. It’s a fun ride and a swashbuckling adventure film reminiscent of other Disney ride-based movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and adventure films like The Mummy (1999). For those that don’t know,  Jungle Cruise is a film produced by Walt Disney Studios based on the Disney ride of the same name. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank Wolff, Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton, Jeese Plemons as Prince Joachim, and Edgar Ramírez as Aguirre.

The film is set in 1916 during the First World War and is about Frank, Lily, and MacGregor’s search for the mythical Tears of The Moon in the Amazon Jungle. The film follows their adventure, their developing rocky relationship, and their attempts to get there before Prince Joachim and the cursed group of Aguirre and his conquistadors. The film uses this set-up and formula to eventually start getting more complex and compelling as it goes on. It’s a formulaic film, but it uses the formula to do some interesting things, especially with the main characters. I think that’s one of the things that is a strength to the film, that because the ride doesn’t really have a story to it, it allowed the filmmakers to do whatever they wanted with the story and the characters, they just had to make sure there was a skipper, who pilots a boat through a jungle.

For this film I’m going to avoid spoilers as much as possible as I feel like knowing too much about the story and the characters would affect the film experience, especially as there’s some stuff in the film that I was not expecting and I’m glad I went in with no preconceptions or knowledge about the film. 

Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff is the male lead of the film. He’s the river cruise captain and is a bit of an anti-hero throughout the film as he’s a bit of a scam artist and l think that’s an interesting way to take his character. He has an interesting arc throughout the film of learning to trust people, as his current situation was in a way caused by one of the last people he trusted. He’s definitely the Jack Sparrow or Rick O’ Connell of the film, but I don’t know if he’s as fun as those characters. I think it could be that he doesn’t have the swagger of Sparrow, or the super charm of O’Connell. He’s still a fun and charming character, but just not as much as the others. The Rock gives a good performance in this film, he’s good in this role. Then again the role was pretty much written to his strengths as an actor. He still does a good job though. Although it’s kind of funny that this is I think the second time The Rock plays a Brenden Fraser style character (first was Journey 2 The Mysterious Island).

Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton is the female lead of the film as well as the protagonist. She’s the one who gets the film going and drives the plot forward. She’s an interesting character as she kind of serves the intelligent love interest role for the film, but she’s also more action oriented vs Evelyn from The Mummy who wasn’t as action capable in the first film as Lily is. She also drives a lot of the action scenes throughout the film. She’s a fun character with some good moments throughout the film. I think my biggest issue with the film is her romance with Frank, as they primarily get into fights throughout the film, they maybe could have used more relaxed scenes together to really set up their relationship and her choice at the end of the film. Other than that she’s fun. Her performance is pretty good and fits her character well. 

Jack Whitehall as MacGregor is the brother of Lily and is the meek, spoiled, and kind of cowardly character in the film. He doesn’t like adventuring and would rather stay in a hotel instead of traveling the amazon river. He serves as the comedic relief character throughout the film, where most of the comedy comes from. He has a pretty good character arc throughout the film as it’s about him opening up and becoming more proactive and being true to himself, as well as being more confident. Especially with him revealing that he doesn’t go the way society deems proper. He’s most similar to Jonathan from The Mummy as they both serve similar roles and are the comic relief of the film. 

Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim is the main villain of the film, he is a german royal figure that wants to get the group and find the tree to use it’s power to win the war for Germany. He’s actually a fun villain playing a good rival to the main trio as he kind of takes up the same roles as Lily and MacGregor. He is smart and intelligent, but also proper and doesn’t really get his hands dirty much, but will when he has to. I do enjoy him in the film as he is a part of the film throughout and he brings some interesting dangers, as his knowledge of the myths of the area brings about the other set of villains. I think a lot of the fun with him is how much he believes the myths and all the stuff surrounding it while everyone around him kind of thinks he’s nuts. There’s a sequence in the film where he’s getting information from one of the other villains through way of a bee, while his men don’t believe it. His performance is good and he’s good in the film.

Lastly is Edgar Ramírez as Aguirre, who serves as the secondary villain of the film, as well as the rival for Frank. I’m including the rest of the conquistadors in this part as they are with him and he does the most out of them in the film. They’re the cool CG cursed villains, kind of like Imhotep from The Mummy or the Black Pearl crew from Curse of the Black Pearl. Each on has cool abilities and their past is one of the more interesting things in the film as it also has to do with Frank and leads to one of my favourite sequences in the film. Their performances are good, but they’re mostly CG throughout the film. 

The film is well paced, it didn’t feel too long or too short. The effects were good for the most part, the conquistadors suffer the most from it but it’s still good for the most part. The action is pretty good, mostly standard fair for this kind of movie, same with the fight scenes. Nothing too much to write home about in that area. The production design is all good, everything sells the time period and the location. The stand out is the boat as it looks beat-up and really sells just how old it truly is. It also includes a fun part of the film at the beginning when Frank takes a tour group essentially through the Disney Ride.

I think one of the best parts of the movie though is the music. The score for the most part is good and accentuates the calmer parts as well as the more epic or emotional parts. But my favourite part is that it uses Nothing Else Matters at a couple points in the film. The second time its used is during my favourite sequence, which is a flashback that shows what happened all those years ago. It’s emotional and the music builds from this softer and slower feeling, and leads to this epic bombastic orchastra cover as the big secret is revealed. 

Over-all I had fun with the film. It’s a good movie to watch with the family with a lot of fun action and moments, as well as some surprising twists and turns. It’s a fun ride and a call-back to movies of a by-gone era. 2 Thumbs up ! Watch it in the theatres, or wait till it’s fully out on Disney plus.