“Firewatch”: A Beautiful Exploration of Love, Commitment and Isolation

When we were kids, playing games on our lovely Sega and Nintendo consoles, did we ever imagine there will come a time when gaming will become a medium as deeply impactful and moving as most great books and movies are?

Well ladies and gentlemen, we are living in that time now. And Firewatch is the perfect (living) proof of it. I don’t remember being so profoundly touched by a game in my entire life. And that’s saying something because I’ve been gaming since I was 5 years old.

Firewatch Poster
Image Courtesy: http://www.blurppy.com

The Plot:

Excerpt taken from IGN.com

Firewatch is a mystery set in the woods of Wyoming, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio. You play as a man named Henry who has retreated from his messy life to work as a fire lookout in the wilderness. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe. An especially hot and dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio – and is your only contact with the world you’ve left behind. But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.

My Take on the Game:

The only thing I knew about Firewatch before starting it was that it’s based on exploring wilderness. I didn’t read about the story, or the characters. I went in completely blank. I thought it was a National Park Ranger Simulator. And well, that was reason enough for me to be excited about it because 1. I love nature, and 2. I love nature VERY MUCH.

So when it started off, I rubbed my hands together all giddy like a child, thinking “This is gonna be so exciting walking around the woods.” And then suddenly in the very first 5 seconds, a written narration starts. Telling me about a clumsy but charming guy (Henry), and a sweet and confident girl (Julia), and their meet-cute in a bar. And at this point I say to myself with sudden realization “Oohhh, I think I’m gonna fall in love with this game.

Now the question arises; if this guy has such a perfect life with Julia, why would he move to a dead-end job as a lookout out in the woods?

Wanna know the reason? Please purchase the game. This game deserves to be purchased IMMEDIATELY.

[The screenshots I’ll be sharing in this post are of the actual gameplay. Yes, the beauty of it leaves you speechless.]

Firewatch Sunset
Image Courtesy: http://www.superbwallpapers.com

Firewatch is perfection in every single aspect. The way this game deals with adult issues through world-class storytelling with the support of a hilarious and heart-wrenching script along with some of the most amazing voice-acting I’ve ever heard in my life makes Firewatch easily my most memorable interactive gaming experience. And how can one forget the perfection of the art direction and gorgeous visuals. It literally blows away your mind.

As I’ve already discussed, the game is completely narrative driven. You, as Henry, work under your supervisor Delilah, and 95% of Firewatch is based on the dialogues of these two individuals over the handheld radio. And that’s where the beauty of this game lies. Just like when reading from a book, you get to enter the minds of these two people who have both run away from something from their life back at home. Along the way, you do run into some trouble. Firewatch goes from something moving to something harrowing in just a couple of chapters, and there are times when you are scared to go out in the dark because of the lurking danger and the terrifying conspiracies surrounding you.

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Deadpool: Marvel’s Finest Creation Yet

A movie that starts of by saying that it is produced by “Asshats” and directed by “An Overpaid Tool” is a total winner in my books. 😀

I really shouldn’t admit this, but I enjoyed Deadpool way more than Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road. Please don’t hurt me. *hiding under the bed*

This is hands down the MOST entertaining movie experience I’ve ever had in my life. No hyperbole intended.

[Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE]

Deadpool Poster

Movie Synopsis:

Excerpt Taken from Rotten Tomatoes:

“Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.”

Deadpool

My Take on the Movie:

Before starting my review I’d like to applaud the Marketing Team of this movie. That whole department alone deserves a special category in the Oscars. I’ve read a few Marvel and DC Comics over the years but I never planned on reading Deadpool. I don’t know, I just wasn’t into the “Merc with a Mouth”. But the adverts and marketing of Deadpool swept me away! Seriously tho, that is the only reason I was excited to see it. Not only its trailers, TV spots, outdoor and print ads; its Social Media game was on point. I mean, just look at this!

Deadpool this Valentine's Day

If you wanna learn how to sell a hardcore, violent, raunchy, action-packed, comic-based movie at a time of the year when girls are squealing to their boyfriends to take them to a sappy rom-com, then please contact the person who made this cover 😛 Simply genius 😀

Coming back to the review.

I have nothing against Marvel movies – I’m a huge die hard fan – but we all know that they are popular for their big budgets, the big names, big-time superheroes, loud mind-blasting action, over-usage of CGI and their snarky but cute humor here and there. Ant Man was a very fine exception from that rule, and I love that one to bits; but what I loved the MOST about Deadpool (another movie with a tight budget) were it’s unique style of storytelling and script.

My goodness, this is how you turn a painfully overdone superhero formula into a BENCHMARK for all other comic-book films.

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Changing the Race of One of the Most Beloved Characters in Literature. Does It Matter?

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Social Media hiatus, due to my midterms – they went completely awesome by the way – and also because right after exams I was involved in some personal matter that I’ll share in the upcoming post; let’s just say it involves me making a new best friend after 7 years. Big achievement for me! Yay!

Anyway, as soon as I got up to speed to the online world, this news made my jaw drop: Idris Elba is the Frontrunner in portraying the role of Roland Deschain in the Movie-TV Show adaptation of The Dark Tower series written by Stephen King.

The Dark Tower

Now let me discuss how this issue might affect the book readers and how the non-readers shouldn’t be too quick in judging them wrongly.

  • These 7 books were published in a span of 22 years, so they are probably the entire LIFE for some adults and for me they have been my entire teenage. I have finished all seven of these 5 times, EACH. This series was the reason I developed a passion for writing, although I sucked at it but I wrote a LOT of fan-fiction based on Roland and his Ka-Tet. Those were my first projects on serious and focused writing. I also developed a fan-site for TDT, but it bombed. Anyway, at the time when teenagers are going through issues related to puberty, hormones and self-esteem problems at school, for me The Dark Tower series were my life; so I know what being passionate about a particular series feels like. People obsessed about Star Wars, I obsessed about The Dark Tower.
  • I NEVER wanted it to be adapted to the big (or small) screen. I know, everything is “sell-able” in this world, but this was the ONE thing I never wanted Mr. King to give away his rights to. I usually love it when any of his work gets picked up by a great studio and they do justice to it, like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me, Carrie, The Dark Half, The Mist and a few more. BUT we also have the examples like the Dreamcatcher, Thinner, Sleepwalkers, Maximum Overdrive, Graveyard Shift. Yikes. So I hope these directors understand how emotional we fans can get when they screw with some work from our favorite authors. Especially when it comes to Mr. King’s magnum opus; The Dark frikkin Tower.
  • Another reason for The Dark Tower having problems with adaptation for SO many years (the project got picked up and dropped by numerous directors and studios) is just because… it’s a little too much. Here, we are talking about a world that is more complex, enriching (and horrifying) then the one’s portrayed in Lord of the Rings or The Song of Ice and Fire. This bizarre world was only meant to exist in us readers’ minds! Directors have quit (even J. J. Abrams backed off) because the The Dark Tower Universe was too big for them to handle. Therefore, I have severe doubts with this Nikolaj Arcel person who is only popularly known for his work as a screenwriter on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Now that I’ve made it clear why I hate the idea of these movies and/or show, let’s get to the issue of “race”.

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: “Crippling, Debilitating, Paralyzing Love”

Let me start this review by sharing what happened to me when I finished this book. It was 4:20am, I was lying in my room in the dark and everyone else at home was fast asleep. The moment I finished it, I got up from my bed – my knees shaking – closed my bedroom door, and right then and there I fell to the ground and starting crying as if these tears were held inside me for years. I cried so much I couldn’t breathe anymore. I crawled to the bed, lied face down into my pillow and bawled as loud as I could.

I was a complete mess.

Those weren’t tears of sorrow. They were tears of joy. :’)

I love you Colleen Hoover, for making me believe in love again. :’)

Image courtesy: www.goodreads.com
Image courtesy: http://www.goodreads.com

I usually read a book’s Goodreads review before starting it. I need to know what others think about it, because I hate it when I realize I’ve wasted my time with a lame story. But with November 9, I went in completely blind. I had no idea what it was about, what rating it got, how “bestselling” it was. I avoided reading anything about it like I avoid reading Game of Thrones spoilers. I only knew that it was written by CoHo.

And I would advice you to do the same.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

As for my review, it will be completely spoiler free. Yeah, there will be a few quotes here and there, but they’re only for the purpose of convincing you to read this book immediately.

Okay, now I’m just gonna rant on like an idiot about WHY I loved this book so much.

My Take on November 9:

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”

THE ROMANCE:

November 9 has the most engaging and one-of-a-kind romance I’ve read in a long, long time. The formula CoHo used has been done before – obviously – but how she executed it, how she dealt with those characters and the purity of love between them (I haven’t swooned so much in YEARS), and that mind-boggling twist near the end, HOLY GUACAMOLE, it left my head spinning.

It made me feel ALL THE FEELS!!!

“You left with my soul in your fists and my heart in your teeth, and I don’t want either of them back.”

I have plenty of experience with romance novels but this time there was something different. You know when you read/watch an amazing love story and you say to yourself, “Yeah right, THAT’S never happening to me. I’m gonna become a cat-lady and die alone.”

Abeeha the Cat Lady

But in November 9, Ben and Fallon’s love seemed too real. So real that it made me believe that one day I too can have something like that. Do you remember what I said in the beginning? About me crying like a baby? It was because I suddenly knew it in my heart that I WILL find my Ben someday :’)

“I’m in love with her. Like, really in love with her. Crippling, debilitating, paralyzing love.”

Laughing-Crying Matthew

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5 Lines (or less) Movie Reviews: MI5 Rogue Nation, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Paper Towns

5 Lines (or less) Reviews

Mission Impossible 5 – Rogue Nation:

Image Courtesy: http://screenrant.com/
Image Courtesy: http://screenrant.com/

MI has become the “Coca-Cola of Movies”: they know how to sell it, it maintains a consistent quality and it NEVER disappoints. It is the one single franchise from which you can always expect the best, and Rogue Nation is no exception. Visually stunning, gripping and suspenseful storyline, mind-DESTROYING action scenes, and Tom Cruise who is definitely a vampire (that guy does NOT age) is ridiculously fantastic as ever.

Potahto Rating:

4 out of 5 Potahtos

Watch It If:

you want to see the single best chase scene in action movie history (not kidding). And also if you’re super into great espionage-thrillers starring a 52-year-old Tom Cruise still kicking ass looking like a sexy 30-year-old.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl:

Olivia Cooke as "Rachel" and Thomas Mann as "Greg" in a scene from the motion picture "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." CREDIT: Anne Marie Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
Image Courtesy: Anne Marie Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
Friendship, love, parenting, witty banter, high-school cliques, crazy short films, stop-motion animation, cancer-drama, fear, life, death and a coming-of-age tale all rolled into one heartfelt and delightful package. I admire the way the writer dealt with cancer by not forcing you to feel pity and constant sorrow for the lovable characters. And I simply cherish that RARE event when a movie turns out to be better than its book.

Potahto Rating:

5 out of 5 Potahtos

Watch It If:

you are tired of sappy love stories and believe that teenage flicks on illnesses should not be so “boo-hoo-please-cry-for-me” type. And also if you need to see something that is in many ways better than The Fault in Our Stars.

Paper Towns:

Image Courtesy: http://www.usatoday.com/
Image Courtesy: http://www.usatoday.com/

It’s sad when a movie you were really excited about turns out to be a major let-down. Paper Towns is painfully dull! Nat Wolff who seems like a full-of-life-fun-guy IRL was the biggest depression-inducing aspect of this film for his monotonous performance. The super hyped Cara Delevingne: non-existent. The script: not so powerful. The only acceptable performances were by the main lead’s two best friends. 

Potahto Rating:

2 out of 5 Potahtos

Watch It If:

you want to see a mildly decent bromance. Otherwise, please don’t bother.

“The Girl on the Train”: A Study on How NOT To Write Your Characters

The Girl on the Train has been one of the most hyped-up books of 2015; having comparisons with intense psychological thrillers like Gone Girl. But let me just get one thing straight: it’s not the next Gone Girl. That’s false marketing/word-of-mouth. Yes, both had unreliable narrators, both revolved around a murder, but where ‘The Girl on the Train’ fails terribly is in its character design.

"The Girl on the Train," by author Paula Hawkins. (AP Photo/Riverhead Books)
Image courtesy: http://www.yahoo.com; “The Girl on the Train,” by author Paula Hawkins. (AP Photo/Riverhead Books)

Plot Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

My Take on the Book:

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked reading this book (to some extent). I love meself some “whodunnit” stories, and I was glued to it for two days straight. I couldn’t put it down.

Page Turner

But there are two reasons why it was such a page-turner for me:

  1. It was undoubtedly an engaging read. Although very predictable (I had to literally dumb-down myself in order to maintain that element of surprise for the big “killer-reveal” moment) but nonetheless it kept me on the edge of my couch as it had a really fast-moving plot. I don’t mean to sound crass but murder mysteries are FUN!
  2. I wanted to get it over with. I was 100 pages into the book when I truly started to hate the characters and I was just too invested in the story by then that quitting was just not an option anymore.

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“All the Bright Places” – A Book That Broke My Heart

You know one of those stories when you read about the love between two people and it just gives you this fluttery feeling, that little twinge in your chest, a small skip of a heartbeat. A kind of love that you know will not and can not happen in any stage of your life (sorry, I’m talking about myself here), but when you read about it you can literally FEEL that love inside your heart. And when the story is finished you just lie there, crying, holding that book close to your chest, and staring at the walls feeling absolutely shattered. All The Bright Places was that kind of book for me.

All The Bright Places Cover

Book Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

“Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.”

My Take on the Book:

When I read this blurb I knew it that it’s not gonna have a happy ending. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s just very very extremely obvious.

Let me make one thing clear; All the Bright Places has A-LOT of similarities with The Fault in Our Stars. But this time instead of battling with cancer, our protagonists are battling with depression and mental illness.

Gus and Hazel Crying

Now you might be asking, “So why should I give a damn about this book when I know it’s exactly like TFiOS? Nothing original there!

Even though it has a lot of similarities with it (two broken people – who are very witty, charming, their literary taste and IQ level is spectacular – find love and hope within each other), but ATBP is still unique in it’s own way.

“The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

The love story felt… how do I explain this… deeper? Better? I don’t know why but to me Theo and Violet felt more in love with each other than Gus and Hazel.

And now the John Green and TFiOS fans will be like *gasp* “BLASPHEMY!!!

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