May 17, 2016

Empire a la Bond

I saw this link a few days ago and didn’t click it yet because how good could it be? Holy shit was I wrong.

May 7, 2016

Event Reviews

Star Trek: Ultimate Voyage – Best night of my life. This is an orchestra playing star trek music while they play star trek montages. I love star trek music. Love it. If I’m being intellectual, it was far from perfect. The orchestra wasn’t the best. Some of the montages were kinda dopey. The chronology of the montages was weird and didn’t work. But, I was so happy. Like, grinning like an idiot, clapping like a seal, cloud 9, so happy, happy. They went to intermission with the cliffhanger from Best of Both Worlds. HOW GENIUS IS THAT?! It was so good. We had to buy tickets twice, because work was maybe going to overlap with the Tucson concert, so I bought phoenix tickets just in case. That’s the way it happened, so we gave away the Tucson tickets. So worth it.

Premium Blend – This was pretty good this year. They’ve been on a down swing lately, the last couple years have been all modern and ballet. Which are nice, but the whole point of this show (for me) is the variety, and two styles is not variety. This year they had one jazz-ish song. Not really jazz, just jazz in the way that it captures dance that’s not modern but isn’t specifically any other style. They also did ballet and modern, and they were fine, but the Cajun inspired one was pretty cool. Their big piece was a Jose Limon dance, something native american inspired. It was dedicated to specific tribes and it had specific dances throughout that may have been reflections of those tribes if you know about those things. I didn’t and just thought it was kinda weird. Good show overall though.

Shen Wei Dance Arts – Super not for me. This is … I don’t know, post-modern? The first piece was Rite of Spring, which is a Stravinsky ballet that supposedly caused great distress in the audience when it premiered because it’s super weird. Both the music and the dancing were terrible. Sporadic, staccato, random, flailing, junk. All done extremely well but extremely talented dancers, but no. It was the dance equivalent of dissonance. A thing that some people think is a cool reaction to accepted rules, but I think is terrible. The second piece wasn’t as bad, but wasn’t great. It was very slow with people more posing than dancing. The dancers are god damn incredible, some of the things they did, at the insanely slow and controlled speeds that they did them, were amazing. Strength that I can’t even imagine. I liked parts of it, but I kept wishing they were going to start dancing at some point. It was well done, it just wasn’t fun for me.

Bodytraffic – This is another dance group, apparently well regarded. It was mixed for me. The first piece was really weird, but really cool. Some story about a family and a marriage and I’m not sure. All Jewish/Ladino/Yemenite music, which was really good. The dancing was also really good. Some parts of the performance were very strange. The middle one I didn’t really love. And then the last one was kind of cool, very joyful (I think Joy was in its name), happy sort of jazz type dancing, it was fun, though a bit repetative. Over all, a good show, but not super memorable.

Mar 6, 2016

Darth Maul Fan Video

Pretty bad ass. There’s no excuse for making a female character like that anymore, even if you tried to make up for it at the end. But otherwise, pretty cool.

Feb 26, 2016

Movie Reviews

Star Wars 7 – So, that was pretty great. It’s not, like, mind blowing. Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s even possible. When was the last mind blowing action/scifi movie? Matrix? Avatar, I guess? Technology just hasn’t changed like that in a while. Maybe VR will do it. But really, their job was to not fuck it up. We want more star wars, with the people we like, and the universe we love, and just don’t fuck it up. They didn’t fuck it up. The humor was at the right level, the action was good, the acting and writing was actually pretty good except for one absolutely terrible scene between two classics pumping out WAY too much exposition. And the story is… familiar. But the new characters are fantastic. And just otherwise pretty great. Second time through it was even better, once I stopped worrying about whether they were going to fuck up star wars.

Deadpool – Super fun! It’s super juvenile, but it’s not shy about it. Blood and guns and cussing and jokes. But it’s not juvenile in a way that makes me roll my eyes or feel a little icky. The 4th wall stuff is great, the sense of itself is great, the whole character is great. I had a ton of fun.

Furious 7 – Pppt. Whatevs.

Trainwreck – I don’t know. I laughed a bunch, for sure. I didn’t actually think Amy Schumer was very funny. Actually, the funniest parts, and the best performed parts, were Lebron James! What?! The rest of it was funny, half the time. I don’t really get the story. I mean, I get it, she’s a mess. And most of these comedies the dude is the mess, and the straight laced girl cleans him up, and they reverse that. Buuuut, I don’t like those movies. So why would I like this one? Dunno.

The Man from UNCLE – Pretty decent. I like the Guy Ritchie style, so that’s fun. I love the music. I didn’t love the main guy, his faux american accent was weird, but not too offputting. There wasn’t anything that revolutionized the genre, but it was fun and that’s what I was looking for.

Beasts of No Nation – Yikes, that’s rough. I don’t know much about child soldiers. I read that Ishmael Beah book a few years ago. This movie made me feel very much like that book – mostly sad. The movie is beautiful to look at in all its horror. I don’t know film making well enough, but there were some visually captivating scenes. The music was outstanding. There were multiple times where I had to stop and appreciate how much the music made a scene. Idris Elba certainly did a great job, but in all the shit with the oscars, I’m surprised the conversation is about him and not the kid. That kid was insanely good. Over all, fantastic movie that I never want to watch again.

Mad Max: Fury Road – There’s a lot to like about this movie. As everyone said, the effects are fantastic. The whole look and feel of the constant battle is awesome. The cockeyed ingenuity of the mechanisms is a lot of fun. The movie really doesn’t waste any time, there’s very little bullcrap in between all the cool shit we want to see. There is some oddly placed hokeyness, the guitar guy? and drum guys? wtf? But for the most part it’s cool. There are a few times (at least that I saw) where they use CGI and it is god damn terrible. The fight with the aforementioned guitar guy is painful. The big wreck toward the end with shit in the air – was that made that way for 3D or something? It was real bad. But that’s literally like 5 minutes out of 2 hours of goodness.

Ant-Man – Pretty good. Nothing mind blowing, but it was fun and funny and everyone did a good job. More entertaining than most of the 1st and 2nd gen marvel movies. Not as good as Guardians, but next in line.

Fantastic Four – Nope. Nothing good here. First of all, why are they teenagers. It was bad enough when they tried to give the 25 year old white sideburns in the last movie. Now they’ve just given up all pretense and they are kids. I mean, the actors aren’t kids, but the characters are kids. So, that’s dumb. The rest of it isn’t necessarily terrible, but certainly not good. Just meh.

Chappie – I actually liked this. I had heard it wasn’t good, but I was entertained. It’s not super unique, it’s kind of like a lot of other things, but I thought it was cool. The gangsters are astonishingly annoying. Like, really hard to watch. But I like the rest of it. The gangsters are a pretty big part of it… I don’t know, I still liked it.

Cinderella – Bad. Bad bad. Why does this movie have good reviews? I’m so confused. It had none of the magic of the cartoon. All the changes seemed forced just to be different, not because it made it better. The CG was holy god awful. At first I was pointing out every time super obvious CG showed up, but I honestly got exhausted. And then the fairy god mother. WHAT?! First of all, why make her young. She was an adorable old lady, why ruin that. Second, if you are going to make her young, why give her an AWFUL CG old person face for 30 seconds just to get rid of it. Cuz you thought it would be fun to trick us? But you didn’t, because your CG looked like a PS2 game. Also the waistline thing, also ruining the dance song, also brown eyebrows with blonde hair. Not good.

Jurassic World – This was pretty fun, for the most part. It’s pretty dumb, but it has moments of self-awareness. And really it’s just silly and cool, and that’s all I really needed from it. The last sequence though – what the fuck? It’s just a clusterfuck, throwing everything in that they could think of. I imagine they thought it was a badass ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny. But I literally laughed out loud; which was not their intention. Fun besides that, though.

Inside Out – I liked this a lot. Except for some questionable characterizations (sad is fat? happy is skinny?), I feel like it’s a pretty good story/message. The value of sad was maybe overly simplified, but it can only do so much in 2 hours. But still, that idea that you can’t be all one thing, that it’s super valuable to have different parts and the balance between happy and sad, in particular, is important, that all seems really good to me. Plus it’s sweet and funny and cute. It’s not the first half of Wall-E or the first 10 minutes of Up (nothing is the first 10 minutes of Up), but it’s good.

Terminator Genisys – I mean, I guess. It’s not terrible, it’s just kinda there. Shooty shooty, a couple funny references. I like how they futz with the timeline. But whatever, just a fun action movie.

Horrible Bosses 2 – Okay, I’m pretty sure I watched this… buuuuut…. ? I think it was probably funny? I’m gonna guess… over the top, a bit too wacky? Probably kinda stupid? I dunno, how am I doing?

Predestination – This was really really weird. Really weird. It’s based on a short by Heinlein, I think. It’s pretty hard to describe without giving it all away. It’s time travel, and it just, uh, kinda, really leans into that. It’s well done, I think, smallish in scale but that fits the story. It’s kind of complicated, but in the end really isn’t. Really it kind of ends up a bit stupid, but I think it’s still good enough.

Air – So, two dudes are stuck in a bunker. Charged with maintaining a sort of life bank for humanity, to wait out some sort of disaster. Then stuff happens cuz when two people are trapped somewhere they go kind of kooky. I liked the idea of it, but it wasn’t that interesting in the end, I’m not totally sure why.

Spy – Goofy movie about Melissa McCarthy being a spy. Cuz fat people doing skinny people jobs is funny, right? Half the movie is that kind of humor, which I think is dumb. But surprisingly, the other half is pretty funny. When she gets all sassy and insults people I was having a great time. Statham’s character is pretty hilarious. Pretty fun.

What We Do in the Shadows – So weird. Mocumentary about vampires living in modern day New Zealand. Super goofy, super over the top, but super fun. It makes no sense, but I was laughing a lot.

Jan 1, 2016

Video Game Reviews

Legend of Korra – This was pretty fun. It’s a totally average game in most respects. It’s just a beat em up, except your punches and kicks get skinned with bending. But hey, I love bending, I can spend 7 hours jumping around beating people up with fire and water and earth and air and have a great time. There’s combos and such to get cool moves, but it was a fair amount of button smashing for me. There’s not as much avatar charm as you’d hope for. It’s mostly just Korra, a little bit of Jinora. Mako and Bolin only show up for pro bending (which, though super shallow, is pretty cool to play a couple times). Iro makes a cameo for selling you stuff. No one else shows up, which is a bummer. Avatar is half cool and half fun, and this only had the cool half. But still, for a couple bucks on steam sale, it was super worth the time.

Mount & Blade – This game’s old now, but it is kind of cool. It’s pretty expansive, which is impressive. But eventually I got bored because I felt like there were only so many things to do in this expansive world. Combat is pretty terrible – your own troops shouldn’t be able to push you off a bridge. And how come everyone else can swing a weapon in a crowd except me? But it’s tolerable, and neat how there are different weapons. So I ran around and killed bandits and then joined a kingdom and tried to conquer the world. We were coming along, if the damn king didn’t declare war with everyone on the map. And I got some guys on my side and owned a couple of places, and that’s neat. But it feels like it’d take forever to actually conquer everyone. I’m sure it would happen eventually, we were progressing, but it would take too many years for me to be in charge and actually run the wars reasonably. And much too many to win all those wars. Fun, but I just can’t fight the same battle over and over, so I gave up. I suppose I should have gotten some mods and looked at what fun that can be, but I was already bored at that point.

Heroes of the Storm – My first entry into a MOBA! Technically, I ran another one (DOTA 2 or LOL, can’t remember) once. I was immediately intimidated by the character select screen and literally quit and uninstalled. I know that’s a rage quit joke, but no seriously I did that. A LAN party finally got me to play it in a more friendly environment, and it’s fun. HotS is a less hard core experience, by many accounts, so that helps. It’s pretty fun, I played it pretty constantly for a few couple weeks, trying to burn through the free characters for a given week. By the end of the week I start getting bored, and only finally start getting confident enough to play the games against real people. But that is… mixed. Finally had my first encounter with assholes . People who, as far as I can tell, are not amazing players, but are cool literally yelling piece of shit this and fucking newbs that. Fun stuff. One guy I reported cuz yikes. Without assholes, though, it’s still iffy. I’m not great, but I’m okay. Getting matched with people who ask questions that imply they’ve never played before is not great. Often we win pretty handily, or get destroyed. That doesn’t feel like great matchmaking. It’s hard to adjust to the idea that you should win 50% of the time, we’re used to thinking we should always win, that’s the goal. But I think I’m okay with that, I just should feel like it’s a real game most of the time. Matchmaking is hard, I don’t want that job, but in my admittedly limited experience, it’s pretty rough. But I’m still going, I have enough heroes now I could actually do hero league, which is super intimidating. But I’ve been playing for a few months now and still having fun, so I like it. Heck, I even bought a couple heroes with real dollars. Crazy!

Qvadriga – This is a chariot racing sim. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, and it isn’t too much fun, really. You buy a dude, a chariot, and horses. Their stats boil down to 2 potential characteristics which make them better at their jobs. Then it’s turn based, you choose to speed up, slow down, change lanes or attack. My first few races I felt like I was grasping how to take a corner without tanking. Then I had a ton where I couldn’t seem to go around without falling, so I got confused. That got frustrating, and then it just seemed like it was always going to be the same thing over and over, so I stopped. You can change cities and race tracks, but there didn’t seem to be all that much variety.
Interplanetary – This is a space artillery turn based game. It’s a neat idea, you develop up one planet, and you shoot players on the other planets in a solar system. You need power and materials, and build things to generate them. Then there’s 3 kinds of weapons, two kinds of shields, and things to spy on other planets (or block their spies). It’s cool, but it’s too hard and the computer, even on normal, is a bit too good at targeting. The weapons are affected by gravity and have time of flight so you have to predict the path of the other planets. That’s pretty hard to do at all but the shortest ranges, but the computer was pretty accurate. Then you reach the point where you are all blasting away – the tech tree has mostly topped out and you are just trading blows. And missing more than the computer misses. So, it’s fun, i got bored. It’s an early access game, but it sounds like it has all its features.
Metro: Last Light – This is a sequel to the other Metro game, which I remember being okay. I guess I should be into the story, since it’s based on a book? It’s just a post-apocalyptic thing, but everyone has to live in the subway which is a fun conceit. In the last game you did a thing and it had an effect and you aren’t too happy about it. This game is partially about redeeming yourself, but mostly about getting from point A to point B. After all that, it’s a mostly generic shooter. You fight either dudes or beasts. The dudes are more fun because you can stealth. The beasts are just frantically shooting the shit out of everything until they stop coming. It’s okay, but nothing much.

Kill The Bad Guy – Fun little puzzle game. 3/4 view, line art, a bad person is walking through the very very small level, you have to trigger traps in the environment to kill them (exploding car, electricity in water, etc). It’s fun, simple, has a fun sense of humor. A lot of the bad guys are based on real people, it seems, references to someone terrible in the news. There’s not a lot there, but it’s a nice distraction.

Ultra Street Fighter 4 – Huh, I haven’t played SF since Turbo! It’s not too different, I guess. Looks a lot different, not necessarily better. Everyone is all wirey and poppy and veiny. The badass level is just a bit too high. It plays pretty similar, from what I remember. I’m trying to play every character once just to see, but gosh there’s a lot.

Rome Total War 2 – I tried. I know this is a whole genre. And I know it’s deep and complex and you can’t try it for 5 minutes and give up. But I did try it for hours, and I did not have any fun. Also, what’s with all this Civ shit? I thought the whole point of this game was the war part. But now you can auto-resolve the fights and just go build your city? That seems anti the point. I just couldn’t get into it, gave up before taking my first city (which I failed to do a few times). Sad day.
Lost Planet 3 – I never played the originals, so I don’t know how this compares. For the most part it’s a completely normal shooter. There’s mech stuff which is a bit different (no guns, fighting by grabbing and drilling and such), which is neat, but nothing super special. Shockingly, the voice acting is really really good. Super impressive. The facial animations are actually really great too. The models are not great, they are from a few years ago and look like it. Skin is lifeless, hair is fake, mouths and eyes are creepy. But the animations, underneath that crappy model, is actually super good, like better than most games. The story is fine, whatevs. All in all, the game is good but not great.

Space Run – This is a quirky tower defense. You are a spacer trucker (voiced by Vax from Critical Role!), and you have to survive your runs by building guns and defenses on your ship each time. It’s fun, but it is still just tower defense, which I never got super obsessed with.

Not The Robots – Weird little game. You are a robot trying to get through a bunch of levels. There are lasers that can kill you and sentries that hunt you. You have to trigger or tag objectives to finish the levels. You have a few tools you can use to help. It’s fun, simple. There’s not a series of levels, you start over each time and get as far as you can. So I only got so far and didn’t push much past that, but it’s cool.

Star Wars Parkour

 I could have done without 5 minutes of running in the middle, but the rest is pretty cool.

Oct 10, 2015

Comic Reviews

Promethea – This is an Alan Moore comic, I haven’t really read much of him besides Watchman. He has a long prose introduction that I actually thought was quite good. It is supposedly a history of this character Promethea in fiction which I had assumed to be true but turns out is all made up for the comic. The intro is not at all Alan Moore-ey, its reasoned and thoughtful. He makes up a terrible racist character in an early-1900s version of the story, which is weird to do when it’s not real. But he’s trying to make up a history of this character that reflects the world it was written in, which is actually pretty interesting. Unfortunately, to me, the rest of the book doesn’t live up to the intro. I only got Book 1, maybe the rest are better, but I wasn’t super into the story. The art is pretty good, bright and colorful and my style. But the mechanics of the plot were kind of sleepy. Not good enough to make me track down the other books.

Kill Shakespeare – This sounded cool, but ended up boring. It’s like Fables (or Once Upon a Time, for lame people), except with Shakespeare characters. They all exist in a shared world, interacting in various ways. I don’t know that stuff at all well enough to compare these versions of them to the classic version, but it’s kind of neat. And then there’s a mysterious Shakespeare who is maybe the creator or maybe a wizard or maybe a god and different people have different plans regarding him. That all sounds like a cool setup. But I read the whole first trade and I’m not interesting in reading the rest. It was okay, just not that interesting and didn’t keep me around.

Beautiful Darkness – This is one of the weirdest comics I’ve ever read. It’s an “anti-fairy tale”. Which basically means a dark and effed up story. A bunch of people, kids maybe, I’m not sure, get shrunk down to bug size and have to survive. There’s not much of a story, the pages feel kind of nonsequitor. But it does some pretty disturbing things, and the worst part of it is it’s very very casual about it. A person will die in an icky way, and then next panel, like no big deal. That is clearly on purpose, in contrast with its very cutesy art style. I guess it succeeds in what it’s trying to do, but what it’s trying to do is pretty weird. Not sure I exactly enjoyed it, though it was interesting.

Black Science – Read the first collected edition of this. It’s kind of a wacky scifi, other dimensions kind of story. The art style feels pretty frenetic, which suits the pace. It’s a little bloody, but not crazy. It’s very in media res, but you catch up pretty easily. It throws a lot out in the first 6 issues, and plows through its characters pretty relentlessly. Not sure how the next books will go, but I think I’m in to it.

Manhattan Projects – If I hadn’t also just read Beautiful Darkness, I would say this is a very weird book. It is still weird, just in a different way. It’s an alternate history of the Manhattan Project, wherein pretty much everyone is a psychopath. Einstein is some sort of evil version, some other guy is a skeleton made out of plasma or something, Oppenheimer is a replaced by his multiple personality, cannabalistic twin. So fucking weird. It feels like a really dark version of Atomic Robo, in that it’s set in the past, but there’s a lot of future tech, portals, lasers, etc. It’s pretty crazy, but I really like it, going to get more.

Book Reviews

Speaker for the Dead – I read this a few years ago, but I re-read a few months after re-reading Ender’s Game. The book is really really good. My faint, probably wrong, memory of my first reading of the two books is that I like them equally, for very different reasons, with the slight edge toward Ender. The second time around, Ender is very cool and still has the best twist around, but is just cool. Fun, interesting, actioney, cool. Speaker is really special, though. The idea of a speaker is very powerful. The idea of understanding someone so deeply you can accept even their tragic flaws, even their evilness. Ender is a bit of a superhero, and his superpower is borderline-omniscient insight, it’s a bit much. But otherwise it’s really good. The different perspective of different people and species, none of which are wrong, but which may be incompatible, that’s all very interesting. The idea of understanding why a person acts a way is valuable to me. I’m not quite so magnanimous in real life, there are still plenty of people who need to be dead, and plenty who I just don’t want anywhere near me. But I do, as a rule, try to understand where people are coming from and forgive brief transgressions. Everyone can have a bad day, the dude who cut you off could have just endured a tragedy. Or maybe he’s just an asshole. But neither reality will change your day, so let it float on past. That’s moving past the philosophy of understanding why people are the way they are and into how to be happier yourself, but it all seems related to me. Anyway, it’s a really good book with some really good ideas. How can such a progressive set of thinking be written by such a flaming bigot? I don’t get it.

Bean Quartet – I listened to the 4 books written about Bean, in the Ender universe. I did not really like them. I’m very unsure why I got all the way to the end of them, except that I mostly listened to them while I played video games and so didn’t take up too much of my life. The first one is just an echo of Ender’s Game, but not a very good one. The whole thing with Bean is extraordinarily dumb. People have been making genetically engineered super people for ever in science fiction. No one has made a genius baby that hides in toilets. So dumb. Him being a genius all through battle school is so annoying. I’m not at all on his side because I can’t stand him. It’s kind of cool to have an outside perspective on Ender, but not cool enough. A character who is just so ahead of everything and everyone because he’s so damn smart is really annoying. Then the rest of the books are a mess. The second one was okay at first because there was a lot of global politics stuff. Imagining a different world and the wars and such is a fun exercise. But then half the book is boring bullshit stuff with Petra. And the whole denouement is all about saving a girl? What? I guess there’s this whole arc where Bean learns to value love and family over the concerns of the world, but that seems remarkably dumb. And to end a book saving a princess is so ick. And then the next book is so much teenage angst and drama. The fourth book at least bothers to wrap up the story, but I could have read the short story outline and been just as happy.

Wool – This book is kind of a rollercoaster for me. It’s a post-apocalyptic thing people are living in an underground silo because the world has gone to shit. It starts out fantastic. The first 5 chapters are an amazing reversal of your expectations in this kind of book, and it totally had me going. Then it gets boring for a while, then some cool stuff happens. Then I get real frustrated with the characters, then it’s cool again. Then it’s boring for a while, then it gets exciting again, and then it ends pretty lame. I can think of a 1 page chapter that would have been a much more compelling end without really changing anything. I guess I don’t really like neatly tied up ends. Anyway, it sounds like I’m complaining, but it’s really pretty good, it just has some slogs in it.

The Martian – Well, this is exactly as good as everyone says. Funny, captivating, interesting, scientifically legit (at least to the extent I can judge, which is pretty limited). People have been talking about it since it was a little indie website thing, I just never quite got around to it. But with the movie people are freaking out and I didn’t want the spoils, so I finally read it. It’s pretty great. I guess it falls into a pretty predictable pattern of: holy shit! gonna die. But what if I. Phew, that was close. Holy shit! But that’s okay, that’s kind of the shtick, and it’s a fun one from beginning to end.

Movie Reviews

Nightcrawler – Wow, I really liked this movie. It’s about an aimless dude who stumbles into a job where you go to accident/crime scenes and film stuff to send to local news. That escalates to perhaps over the top levels, but it’s still really good. It’s a horrendously creepy job and Jake Gyllenhaal plays a horrendously creepy dude. I love the look of the movie, it feels like the 80s, dark and kind of grimy and lit by street lights. It’s a wonder how the movie is so captivating when everything about it is so gross. I was disgusted but totally taken.

The Kingsmen – Pretty cool movie. It’s pretty violent. The action is for the most part slick and cool. They push it too far in more than one instance. The people stretch and move in clearly digital ways and it takes you out of the badassery. It’s mostly good, but there’s at least 5 instances of meh. The movie walks a weird line, it’s mostly trying to be badass and cool, but then occasionally, and especially toward the end, goes totally campy. It’s funny, for the most part, but is kind of weird. But it’s pretty cool overall.

Extracted – This is an indie-ish movie about a dude who invents a machine that can go into people’s memories. It’s used for a not so nice reason and gets him stuck in a not so good situation. The rest of the movie is figuring that out and trying to get out. It’s a neat idea, and I can’t say there’s anything in particular wrong with the movie. At the same time, I was kind of bored. Not sure why, maybe the pacing was off, maybe the main dude was just too bland. I did like the end, and just the discussion of what memory really is, that was a cool aspect.

Man with the Iron Fists 2 – Holy crap is this bad. I thought I remember liking the first, but I could be wrong and I can’t find a review. But this is terrible. No one expects the acting to be good, and it isn’t. Probably the writing will suck, and it does. You might hope that the story is decent, but no dice. But it’s a kung fu movie, all those things are forgivable if you serve up some proper ninja shit. They did not. At first I thought maybe just RZA was terrible, he’s not a ninja anyway. But then everyone else is bad too. The choreography is so boring. So simple, it’s like they are running through practices they just learned last week, you can see them thinking about the next move. Really bad.

Blackhat – Holy shit. So, basically, some one read the headline for a story on Stuxnet and was like “woah, someone should make a movie about that”. And then they read LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE ABOUT HACKING EVER. Well, that’s not fair, they did google “top 20 hacking buzzwords”, and then used half of them wrong. Like straight up, did you even google how RAT is usually used, wrong. And then that’s all just a flimsy excuse for an action movie. Dumb.

Seventh Son – Okay, first of all I thought this was based on the Orson Scott Card book. It’s not, it’s based on another book of a different name. Kinda shady to name your movie the same thing as another guy’s book. But, OSC is an asshole, so I don’t care. The movie is terrible, btw. The effects are actually good, a lot of the setup seems like it should be good. But only if no one moves. As soon as they start moving, and especially when they start talking, yikes. Not good.

Starman – This is an old 80s movie I never saw. Alien comes to earth, takes the shape of a widow’s dead husband, then they have to get off the Earth before the big bad military stops them. It’s pretty good, I’m not sure why Jeff Bridges got an oscar nomination, it’s good but it’s not amazing, he’s mostly just trying to act like he can’t speak very well. But still, it’s a good movie, dated in lots of ways, but good.

Jupiter Ascending – Yikes, not so good. For some reason I put this and Interstellar in the same bucket in my head. Interstellar was pretty great, minus the end. This was pretty terrible, including the end. It’s really a teenie bopper fantasy movie, except in space. Princesses and evil villains and quests. Except all the CG is bad, and the acting is bad. The story is pretty bad. The universe is okay, it could have worked, but it ends up being kind of forced. Not so good.

American Sniper – This movie is hard to watch. I found it pretty impossible to separate my reaction to the movie from America’s reaction to the movie. I’m very uncomfortable glorifying a professional killer. And that’s no comment on him. I don’t know if it’s true, but I can imagine that a person in that situation is only interested in making the choices that save as many of his friends as possible, and that seems pretty reasonable. But so much of the reaction to this movie is what a bad ass killer of ay-rabs he is, it’s very icky. To be fair, the movie itself shows conflict in that role, he does struggle with the reality of both war and life at home, and I think that’s really valuable. But my brain can’t ignore the jingoistic blind patriotism that surrounded this movie and this man, and that’s hard to except. Separate from all that, the movie is done pretty well. Well, except the baby, yeah, that was terrible.

Kill Me Three Times – I didn’t get this movie. It’s very quirky, not in a cute way, more like a british gangster movie. But it didn’t catch me at all. I can’t say what was wrong with it, just that I was sufficiently uninterested that I didn’t even want to disentangle the plot, which wasn’t that complicated. Oh well.

Ex Machina – I like this movie. It draws things out too much, because you can see what’s happening faster than the people in it. But as an outline it’s pretty good. I don’t enjoy the end, but I can’t say that it’s bad, they didn’t make an wrong choice, I just didn’t like it! But that’s focusing on 5 minutes I didn’t like when I liked all the rest of the minutes quite a bit.

Dumb and Dumber To - Nope.

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Meh. I’m not really sure what the point of this is. It’s not an earnest biblical movie, it’s far too shiny (literally, it’s grimey shine, but it’s still shine), too flashy (metaphorically). If it’s an action movie, well, I don’t know, just make an action movie. Although, probably should make a better one than this. If it’s a biblical movie, it should feel a lot more biblical, less like a straight to DVD 300 sequel. I feel like the whole point was just to see the plagues, and then the red sea, and those were somehow underwhelming. At first I hated the representation of god, but then the idea of a petulant foot stomping child kind of grew on me. It might be my favorite part of the movie.

Hector and the Search for Happiness – This is pretty good, but pretty weird. Like that Walter Mitty movie, the mixing of reality and fantasy is more frustrating than fun for me. I know I’m supposed to just enjoy the story, but I kept getting distracted by how it would be realistic for 20 minutes, then be a little nuts for a while. But still, it’s fun, I like it.

Wet Hot American Summer – I had never seen this, but watched it so I could see the netflix show. I wasn’t not impressed by either. The ads for the show were hilarious, but I guess that was all their hilariousness. It’s meant to be extremely wacky, I guess racey. But it just seemed stupid for the most part. You can only get so funny by being crazy and “oh my god no they didn’t”. I guess that used to work, I guess that’s Anchorman. But this didn’t work at all. I was so bored by the end of the show.

Taken 3 – I don’t know, it’s even less interesting that the 2nd one. Him being a badass was only awesome because it was so unexpected and therefore cool. Continuing to do that for 4 additional hours is super boring.

Jack the Giant Slayer – This started out pretty bad. It never got good, but it got better at least. But at first it’s objective terrible. The acting, the writing, the CG, oh man. About half way through it gets a little better, maybe I was just distracted by the plot, simple as it was. The second half is just kind of an average kid-friendly action movie. Nothing much to it.

It Follows – I guess I see why this was received well. It’s not like the writing or performances are particularly wonderful. And the hook is just as lame as any other hook, maybe even a little lamer, trying to exploit our love of seeing people doing it. But the pace of the movie is good. Though it has it’s moments, it is by no means relying on scares or gore to keep your attention. It is more thriller than horror often, so it gets points for that.

Woman in Gold – It’s hard for me to judge this movie, because I disagree with the lady. I think the movie is pretty well done. They have a simple job, just tell her admittedly remarkable story and don’t fuck it up. They don’t fuck it up. I have a problem with her not because I think she’s crazy or bad. Her story is tragic and representative of endless tragic stories to come out of that war. I just have a problem locking pieces of art away in private collections. Not a lot can trump the suffering of a victim of that war, but, to me, iconic elements of the cultural history of an entire people should be shared, not in your living room.

The Theory of Everything – Pretty good. I didn’t know much about his story, just the broadest outlines. This filled it in pretty well, and everyone does a good job. You have to wonder how much of it is smoothed over. I guess it’s mostly based on his first wife’s book, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all truth. But whatever, I don’t care about all the salacious stuff. He changed physics. Someone else would have if he hadn’t, but as it happens he did it, so that’s worth something. Cool to see the story of how it happened.

Jul 12, 2015

Video Game Reviews

Dark Souls – I tried. I really tried. In fact, I tried an extra couple of nights just out of stubbornness, because I knew it has such a reputation for being impossible. But, it wasn’t that it was impossible, or at least I hadn’t gotten to the impossible part yet. It was pretty hard, and there are basically no instructions, which is just stupid and frustrating, not fun and discoverable. But anyway, it was just SO GRINDY. As often as I die, that’s hard, but having to kill the same 10 guys over and over and over to level up or to buy equipment. There’s a god damn crest that requires 20k darksoulsbucks. That’s like 10 grinding outings. I don’t have the patience for that. I’m 14 hours in to the game and probably less than 1/5, judging by the gamefaqs. If we assume linearity, this is not 50-hours-worth fun, so, I gave up. Bummer.

The Bureau: XCom Declassified – So this is the much maligned FPS version of XCom. A travesty on the face of it (turning a classic game with a classic gameplay to just another squad based shooter). It’s not actually all that bad. In terms of story, I like it. It’s simple, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The revelation, choice, and fallout toward the end are pretty neat. It is very much in the style of XCom, with a team of rando soldiers, except your main guy, going off on missions. It’s not nearly so expansive, but it has that feel. Sadly, the soliders are terrible. It really kind of defeats the point of your squad based shooter if your sqaud will not STAND THE FUCK STILL instead of running into enemy arms every 5 minutes. It wasn’t a problem until the end, but the last couple levels when it gets more difficult it’s damn annoying for them to repeatedly ignore your stay put orders. But still, I was expecting little, and I got a bit more than that, not bad.

Ride ‘Em Low – Nah. I played for about 5 minutes. I must have gotten this in a bundle? I have no idea. The menus are too slow to navigate, you can’t use a controller, it all feels clunky. Only took a race for me to stop.

Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara – This was the remake from a few years ago of the old arcade D&D game. I have fond memories of the game. Unfortunately, it’s pretty boring by yourself. It’s got online coop, but it didn’t connect to any games. Maybe no one is playing anymore. Maybe it was broke for some reason. I played through the Mystara campaign, it was kind of fun, but not nearly as much as with people. It also comes with an older version, which I switched to but got bored with. Kind of a waste of 5 bucks :/

Miasmata – This is a game made by a couple of guys, small in scope but pretty cool. It’s first person, you wake up on an island with a disease. Your goal is to cobble together the ingredients for the cure. You find out what they are by finding journals from dead scientists around the island, you also find ingredients for other medicines to keep you going. It’s kind of a survival game, you are just wandering around finding ingredients, water, sleep, and avoiding a beast that I’m pretty sure you can’t fight against (even though you can throw things and there’s knives and axes). You have to figure it out cold, which I usually don’t have the patience for, but it’s not super complicated, so I did this time. You can find maps that fill out your world map, but otherwise you have to triangulate off of known landmarks to find where you are, to expose new parts of the map, and to mark the location of unfound (but visible) landmarks on the map without finding them. It’s a little finnicky and leads to some cheating (scanning the tree line until your cursor changes), but it’s pretty neat. There’s a lot of dying at first, but once you get the framework it’s okay. Eventually it gets a bit boring, because you are just doing the same thing over and over on a different part of the island. But it mostly works, and I pushed through to the end. Pretty cool.

Magic 2014 – Ah magic. Same ole same ole. Fun for all the same reasons, kind of boring for all the same reasons. I played through the main campaign. I got really really stuck on one fight, with some rats. I resorted to googling, but it didn’t tell me any different than i was already trying. It gave me a reason to keep trying (that it would eventually work), but at that point I was just restarting the duel over and over until I got one of a very small subset of draws that would set me up to win. That’s not fun, that’s just dumb. The rest of the battles were good. The last one was fun because it was 2 on 1 and I did pretty well on the first try, which was probably a good draw too. Didn’t have the energy to do any of the bonus stuff, re-battles and such. But it was a fun distraction.

Survivor Squad – This game is pretty fun, but it’s actually just too hard for me, or I’m too impatient. It’s a top down squad game, you move 4 little people around and survive zombies. You run around and search for supplies. Supplies are actually in really short supply, that’s the hard part. Some of the levels are do-able, but the ones with infinite zombies until you kill a source are pretty hard when there’s multiple sources. It’s fun, I just got sick of dying, oh well.

7 Grand Steps Step 1 – This is kind of a board game. You move characters along an arc with tokens, picking up jewels or whatever to advance the game. It’s generational, so at some point on the board they die and you have to have had kids and given them tokens to get them good at… getting more tokens. It’s pretty repetitive after a while. By the time I got to the last ring I was pretty bored. You can fail at the last ring and drop a level, then earn your way back up and try again. After twice at that I didn’t have the patience to do it again, so, I guess I lose.

Jamestown – Rando little Gladius type game. Nice pixel style art, some attempt at a story but I don’t know why. Game is very short, just a few base levels, with the intention for a lot of replayability, re-doing the levels at harder levels, unlocking bonus levels and such. But that would require a lot more time to get good, so nah.

Defense Technica – Pretty blatant Defense Grid ripoff. I think I was the only person who didn’t think Defense Grid was awesome. And this is just a ripoff, so… It was okay for a few levels, but I got bored super quick.

Movie Reviews

Avengers 2 – Well, it’s pretty good. Like, 80% of the movie is pretty great. Fun fights, pretty funny, engaging, all that stuff. The amazingness of seeing comics coming to life is wearing off, which means you really gotta be good now. And jokes about Banner’s face falling into Black Widows cleavage… aren’t. There were at least a handful of really low brow stupid jokes in here. It felt very sitcomey and lame and my biggest fear for what will become of the Marvel movies. Lame jokes, flat characters, interspersed with bad ass fights. You know, Transformers. The first Avengers movie, plot wise, was boring, I don’t care about Loki or alien invasions. But it was the biggest most successful (in every way) comic book movie ever, so it got a pass. I don’t care about Ultron either, honestly I’m not that much of an avengers person at all. But since the X comics have been relegated to the fox ghetto, and those movies aren’t nearly as good, I’ll takes what I can gets. Still, don’t care about Ultron, so this is just filler to me. I really need them to make Infinity Gauntlet before all this goes to shit. And I’m sure it will, you just can’t put out as many movies as they are planning to put out and not have them go to shit, it’s some sort of fundamental law. So, please, please, get to Dr. Strange, and get to the Infinity movies. Make them amazing, and then the rest can blow, and I will feel happy.

The Imitation Game – This is quite good. This is the one about Turing cracking Enigma. I really like pretty much everyone’s performance. I don’t know how it matches to reality. I know, on a technical level, some of the things they threw out like Heil Hitler and the problem of Enigma are accurate. But historically I don’t really know. Aspergers/Autism is the new… I don’t know, thing that was popular a little bit ago. So this emphasizes that quite a bit, but I’m sure it’s accurate. The gay aspect is horrendous and I’m glad they didn’t shy away from addressing it, it’s sad and depressing and it happened and you should face it. He won’t be the last important person or genius to be destroyed by people being despicable.

Big Hero 6 – This is a lot of fun. I didn’t realize it was a super hero comic, I thought it was a robot comic. I guess it’s both, but I like both parts. It’s very funny, sweet. Not sure if I’d go read the comic, I think the movie is enough, but it’s cool.

Expendables 3 – I guess. I liked the first one, as stupid as it was. The second one was just too much, too stupid. This one they seemed to learn that they aren’t very good writers or funny or anything except explosions. But that’s good news. The fights are over the top and ridiculous, but entertaining. I like how in the end when everyone is fighting, they don’t even pretend to have the good guys start to lose each battle and then come back and win. They just beat the living shit out of everyone from beginning to end, fun stuff. They few times they try to be funny it’s horrible, but the rest of the time it’s fine.

Top Five – This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I had a strong sandler feeling going in. It opens with Rock literally just doing stand-up, pretending it’s a conversation. That happens many times, and it’s terrible (it’s pretty bad comedy, but it’s terrible shoehorned into a movie). The plot is… meh, pretty boring, pretty standard romance underneath a layer of realty show parodying. There are some funny parts, more than I expected, but still not great.

Lucy – No. Just, no no no. For fuck’s sake no. This movie is shockingly dumb, astonishingly dumb. When will people learn. If you want to have super powers, make some bullshit up. Call it an x-gene, call it midichlorians, call it a heisenberg compensator. Do not propagate a bullshit myth about our brain capacity and act like even if it was true you could somehow see wavelengths our eye is not capable of seeing, or interact with electromagnetic waves (even “simple” ones, whatever the fuck that means), or make computers work faster just because your HANDS FLOP ON THE KEYBOARD REAL FAST. Jesus christ. Literally the worst movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

Storage 24 – Rando monster movie. People trapped in a storage facility. Crazy monster starts killing. Nothing much to say about it. Feels kind of like a TV movie, but it’s not bad, it just doesn’t have anything different.

4:44: Last Day on Earth – So, through the king of all mcguffins, the word is going to end in a few hours, due to global warming, at exactly 4:44. That’s pretty dumb, on many levels, but it’s a setup for what would people do with their last day. Turns out, not much. They do it a little, they cry, they yell at each other a lot. They don’t act very well or have very good scripts, apparently. It feels kind of like a play, very localized, meant to be a character study, except the characters are kinda obnoxious so who gives a shit.

The Book Of Life – This is an animation based on Mexican cultural stuff surrounding death. I’m not sure how much it’s based on real stuff, except that there is a day of the dead. It sounds like La Muerta is kind of real, but is more of a grim reaper. And Xibalba is a place, not so much a dude, so…. But anyway, it’s loosely based on all that. I thought it was pretty great. It has a handful of faults, chief among them the very gendered character design of the main people, both men and women. That’s frustrating. But the character design everywhere else is actually awesome. The whole look of the movie is fantastic. The story is nothing fancy, kind of standard cartoon story in mexican clothing, but still good enough. I thought it was pretty funny too. All in all, pretty good.

Dracula Untold – Meh. Not bad, I guess, but really uninteresting. I guess it’s kind of cool, the way they motivate Dracula’s origin. But that’s only kind of cool, and the rest of the movie is pretty plain. There’s some neat fighting with this dracula powers, but not too much.

John Carter – Also meh. I guess it could have been ok? There are some creative stuffs in there. I like the idea that he’s badass because of gravity or whatever, but it doesn’t hold together in any logical sense. I like the alien design and factions, but it doesn’t end up mattering a lot. In the end is a pretty average scifi action movie. If it didn’t have the notoriety of being a flop, I’d think it was just random.

Into The Woods – Not good! What the crap, why does everyone love this? There’s, like, one good song in this entire movie. Literally, when it happened I said “Hey, I actually like this song”, because it was the ONLY TIME! I like the idea behind the movie, and the structure is fine enough, though I’m not so sure about the last 30 minutes. But it’s a musical, and a musical full of songs that suck…. sucks.

Whiplash – Pretty good movie. Kind of insane, especially because I’m told it’s not so crazy off of real life. Can’t imagine people being so nuts, but I guess it happens. Besides that, it’s really well done. It’s mostly about the two guys just acting at each other the whole time, and they do a pretty good damn job. No complaints.

Apr 27, 2015

Video Game Reviews

Spore – It’s been a long time since this came out, just getting to it. I do seem to remember people saying it wasn’t very good, that it was like 5 meh games cobbled together. That’s true. It’s like a couple of boring wander-around-and-eat-things games, then a couple civ games, and a 5X game. The 5X game is the only one that is remotely interesting, but it isn’t deep enough to last. I did all the standard stuff in the space section, I did not beat the Grox, it is just too much work. And the work is monotonous. Making money is boring, diplomacy is boring, war is boring. I like the size of the galaxy, there’s just not enough to do that isn’t repetitive. Oh well.

Offspring Fling! – This is a silly little puzzle platformer. It reminds me of super meat boy. But the game mechanism is that you pick up little baby version of you and chuck them around. It’s simple, straightforward, short, cute. It’s really just a flash game, I’m sure I got it as part of a humble bundle. But it was an okay palette cleanser after Spore before playing something bigger in scope.

The Basement Collection – This is a collection of simple games developed by the same person/people who made super meat boy. It might just be a bunch of flash games packaged into a group, I’m not sure. It is kind of fun, they are all simple. Some are very confusing and I couldn’t figure out. Some I played through. Fun distraction, not much else.

Alan Wake – This game didn’t really work for me. The mechanic is theoretically cool – enemies are harmed (or made vulnerable) by light. So there’s a lot of playing with that. I don’t feel like it’s super successful in making you scared of the dark, because you are forced to spend so much time there. Instead you are just using light as bullets (in addition to actual bullets), instead of running from light to light, though that does happen too. The story is kind of boring, didn’t catch my attention, so the game felt long. The game is fairly well done, it just wasn’t great for me.

Mark Ecko’s Getting Up – Nope. Much too frustrating to try to play in 2015. In my defense, it’s not because it’s old, it’s because it’s a terrible port. I can forgive it looking kind of assey. I can forgive it for the UI interaction being slow and clunky. I can’t forgive making no effort to map the controls to mouse and keyboard. Or not letting you reassign buttons. Or even change mouse sensitivity. Or that the camera spends more time glitching on wall boundaries than being useful. I didn’t even get two hours in, I have too many games to play to waste time on this one.

Stronghold Crusader HD – Another game I couldn’t get into. I got like four missions in and gave up. I didn’t even lose the last mission, it was just such slow going I couldn’t keep going. It’s also kind of oldish, but I struggle to think I would have enjoyed it then. It’s a pretty slow-paced RTS. It takes forever to gather resources, to grow a city, to build an army. The interface is janky, the battles are super frustrating. I feel like a modern version of this might be decent, but I wouldn’t risk it unless it was super cheap (and right now it’s $50, so, no thanks).

Hacker Evolution – This is a weird little game. It’s a faux hacker game, entirely run on a command line, which is neat. The “hacking” is really just three commands – to decrypt (whatever that means), to crack a password, or to apply an exploit. The game is to figure out, from files and clues, what servers to look for and hack. It’s simple, but different. You have money to upgrade equipment and manage your “trace”, which is basically health. It’s a bit hard because there’s only a subset of paths through the game (don’t buy too much stuff, don’t hack unnecessary servers) for which you will have enough money to make it. And as far as I can tell you can’t go back a level to undo spending too much money. At the end of the game, I literally sold off all my equipment to reduce my trace enough to win (including my storage space, despite the fact that one of the conditions of winning was taking a file that resided in said storage space…). If that hadn’t worked, and my only choice was to start from the beginning, I would have found an alternative choice called uninstall.

Rochard – This is a little side scrolling platformer. You have a gravity gun from Half Life, basically. You mess with gravity, solve some puzzles, shoot some bad guys (or, preferably, obviously, throw things at them), beat the bad guy, game over. Only took a few hours to run through, nothing amazing, but a few fun mechanics, fun game.

Sol: Exodus – This game got terrible reviews. It’s an indie space shooter. I didn’t think it was that awful. It doesn’t feel that great, but it’s not awful. But then two missions in the game decided to delete my save. No messages, no crashes. I finished a mission, it went to load the next level, but instead loaded the main menu with my save deleted. Not interested enough to play through even just those 2 levels to get back to where I was. Oh well.

The Void – I don’t know, man. It’s got great user reviews, people think it’s so clever. I find it super opaque and frustrating. Not interesting enough for me to push through that and figure out the dang game. I almost uninstalled, then gave it another shot, still had no idea what was going on, so removed it. Sorry, maybe I’m just too impatient lately.

Antichamber – This is a neat little first person puzzler. The graphics are very simple, kind of line drawings. The mechanic is a gun that can pick up and put down little colored blocks. As the gun advances it gains more control (duplicating blocks, making them move around, etc). It’s pretty interesting, pretty challenging. I figured most of it out, but struggled at the end. Had to use walkthroughs to figure out a handful of the puzzles. Maybe I would have gotten them eventually, but definitely not in the time it would have taken to lose interest, so I feel like it was a good call.

The Ship – This is a multiplayer game from a few years ago. You are on a ship, you are given a target. Everyone else has a target, someone has you. You wander around trying to look innocent, tracking down your prey and killing them with a variety of weapons you find laying around the ship. But don’t let the crew or security or cameras see you. I only played once and I’m honestly not sure if I was playing against humans. It might have all been bots. I won, which makes me think it was bots. Or maybe it’s so old that only people who aren’t very good are playing. It was kind of neat, probably a good party game, I might play it once more, but that’s about it.

Apr 26, 2015

Movie Reviews

Boyhood – Waaaaiiiit…. people thought this was good? This was terrible. Like, objectively terrible. There are some subjective things, like maybe you like slice of life more than I do. Maybe you like just a story about a family more than I do. But there are objectively terrible things. No one wants to hear high schoolers opine about life. And sure as fuck no one wants to hear those high schoolers become college kids and start talking like philosopher potheads. Holy christ that was painful. Also, there was one scene in the middle where the kid is talking to the mom and the camera is cutting back and forth and it was literally the most stilted awkward poorly written poorly acted 15 seconds I’ve ever seen in a professional movie.

Gone Girl – Yikes, that’s a bummer. This movie is pretty distressing. No way to say why without giving it away, I guess. It’s a good story, the first half keeps you wondering, the second half is kind of bananas. Then end is just plain unsettling. It’s all a bit over the top, unrealistic. But it’s pretty good.

Birdman – Sad face, this wasn’t as great as I had hoped/heard. It was good, I guess, but not at all amazing. The faux one shot thing is very cool from a filmmaking perspective, but that only lasts about 30 minutes. I love the idea of the movie, and as far as I can tell all the pieces are good. But somehow it just didn’t hit me. It felt kind of like the Wrestler, that’s a weird comparison, but tracking a sad washed up kind of delusional dude, it seemed familiar. And I loved the Wrestler. But this was just, okay. Sad.

Godzilla – Meh. They forgot to put Godzilla in their godzilla movie. Okay, I guess he’s there a little bit. And the reversal of expectations regarding his purpose is actually cool. A number of things are decently well done. But too much of the movie is spent staring at people staring at screens that give them information about Godzilla. Not enough actual godzilla.

Art and Craft – I’m very torn on this story. It’s a documentary about a modern day art forger. He doesn’t do it for the money, he does it either out of some sort of mental handicap or out of a weird megalomania/maniacal persuasion. He gives the art away, making up some story about dead family or a church, and apparently fooled tons and tons of museums. It’s a very interesting story, how he does it, why he does it. He is contrasted with a guy with a captain ahab like drive to catch and punish the forger. Both are a bit crazy, and that’s interesting. So I’m okay with there being a movie about this guy, but then there’s an art exhibit of his forged art. I have a hard time celebrating a forger. It is interesting, but it’s also terrible. Then the movie ends on this unsettling note that he’s giving up forging for museums, and he’s going to go forge for people. Like, tell someone that he found their dead grandma’s diary? But it’s a lie? That’s even worse! I don’t like it.

Interstellar – I actually liked this a lot. I love the tone and the look of it. For the most part I really like the space exploration and the aspects of that sort of travel that they deal with. It’s largely pretty realistic. It kind of goes off the deep end eventually. Makes some shit up and contorts it around to make an interesting story. I don’t really like that part, but if I turn off my brain and try not to make it fit into reality (which much of the rest of the movie would), I’m okay with it. Pretty cool.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – Meh!! The first movie was a cool idea (as similar to Battle Royale as it may have been), but was clearly leading up to the actual interesting part – the revolution. The second movie was a complete waste of time bringing nothing new to the table that the first movie didn’t already establish. Finally here we get to the revolution’s beginnings and it’s kind of… meh. Katness is completely unconvincing as a spark. Her brave and inspiring speeches fall really flat to me. I like the overall arc of the revolution and the complications that might expose (revolutionaries eventually become rulers…). But none of it really holds together for me.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Pretty good. I remember  being shocked at how good the first one was. This one is pretty good too. I like how it fits in the history of the originals. At least, I assume it does. Maybe they’ll change something (or already have in a way that’s not obvious), a la reboot. But it seems to fit, which is cool because you have a feeling of inevitability for how things will play out. But you still get caught up in it. And it’s cool to see how things go to shit despite the best intentions of some, because some others are assholes, human and ape.

Teenaage Mutant Ninja Turtles – This isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be. Not that it’s good. It’s got some pretty low brow humor. It is very michael bay in style – slow mo and explosions and such. But that stuff is cool in parts. Megan Fox isn’t as atrocious as you’d imagine. I wouldn’t say it does anything that the old movies don’t, though. It’s not less dopey, it’s not more fun. So, whatevs.

Spring Breakers – Nope. Best case scenario, the director is deluded and thinks they are making art but is actually making soft-core porn. Worst-case scenario the director is incredibly cynical and tries to layer some faux art bullshit on top of their porn movie to trick people, but knows that it’s all garbage. Either way, just go watch porn.

The Maze Runner – Y’know what, I actually kind of like this one. In many ways it’s just a teeny dystopian movie. But I like the setup, the execution is serviceable. There’s no teeny love bullshit. I like where it ends. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s a good enough world and the movie doesn’t screw it up.

John Wick – I thought this would be better. I guess it has some cool gunplay. But it’s mostly people getting their heads blown off in slick ways. That’s cool for a bit, but it’s not super memorable. And none of the melee stuff is all that great. It’s a fine revenge, don’t-piss-off-the-badass, movie, but not all that special.

Muppets Most Wanted – This was actually pretty fun. I’m not a huge muppets person, I didn’t watch it when I was young, so I don’t have the nostalgia. And when you go back, it’s fun, but just kind of dopey. Like the simpsons, you chuckle to yourself, but not too much more. Still, I chuckled a fair amount, I think more than the last one, it was fun.

Rapture Palooze – Er, I dunno. It’s a really weird comedy about the rapture and Anna Kendrick and her boyfriend try to stop the antichrist who is just kind of an a-hole. It’s weird. It’s the type of movie that could be one of those movies. But it’s just kind of average goofy, not next level goofy.

King Arthur – This is a little reimagining of the Arthur legend. Except, a lot less legendary. It reminds me of the Hercules movie, like the normal dudes behind the magical story. I like that, as I liked it with Hercules. The story isn’t particularly epic, and there’s nothing else amazing. Just average.

Redemption – Another Jason Statham. Trying too hard to be serious, forgetting that we only press play because of the kicky punchy.

My Awkward Sexual Adventure – This isn’t terrible. It’s kind of just a romantic comedy where the guy tries to get his ex girl but falls for the new girl. Except the layer on a bunch of over the top sexuality just to be crazy. It’s kind of funny in it’s goofiness. It’s not so extreme that it’s trying to be offensive. It’s just crazy enough to try to make people gasp a little. Below all that it’s pretty average, but it’s fine.

RoboCop – Meh. Doesn’t do anything better than the first one. I know the first one is kind of campy at this point, but this just replaces that with a kind of blandness; that’s not a fair trade.

Brick Mansions – I didn’t realize this was a remake when I watched it. But I’ve seen District B13, and this movie has the dude from District B13, and this is obviously just that movie. Except they replaced another bad ass ninja with Paul Walker. So… kind of a downward move. It’s in english, but it’s not like I watched the first one for the dialogue. No point in this, just watch B13.

Earth To Echo – Not a great movie, but it’s sweet. The acting is pretty bad, most of the dialogue too. But I like the little alien and the basic story, simple as it is. It’s cute.

Parallels – I actually really like this one. It is clearly a pilot for a TV show, not a movie. As such, it is woefully incomplete as a movie. The characters get very little exploration, the whole thing is rushed, it ends on a cliffhanger for pete’s sake. But given that it has a SyFy B-level vibe to it, it’s at the top of the SyFy B-level heap, I think. I like the setup, the actors all did fine for what they were given. I’d love to see a full show.

You’re Next – This is just a random slasher movie. There’s a couple purposeful twists, but not really surprising. Not like I had it figured out, just that they were not big shockers. Nothing special, nothing horrible.

Love – I didn’t really get this. It seems like my kind of movie, dude stuck in space. Then it gets all weird an I didn’t really follow. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention, it just seemed dopey instead of cool. Contrasted against Interstellar, when it got goofy and weird, I still like it. This one, not as much.

Atari: Game Over – Short little documentary about the infamous Atari landfill in New Mexico. It’s a decent summary of video game history and cool to find out what was actually buried in the desert.

Mar 27, 2015

Event Reviews

Premium Blend – 2014 edition of my favorite dance performance. Except, not this year. I feel like I’ve enjoyed each year of Premium Blend less than the one before. But every time I’ve at least had one or two dances that I really liked, and a bunch of other decent stuff, often too much ballet. This year had exactly one thing I liked, and the rest was kind of meh. The dancers were good, no one screwed up, just kind of bad or boring choreography. The first one was a modern thing with a bunch of glass objects (mostly drinking glasses, but a couple other things too) that the dancers interact with. The dancing is fine, nothing great, and the prop stuff makes me nervous. It’s like improv, I can’t enjoy it because I’m too worried that a disaster is going to happen. The next was a very short duet, it was very average. Felt like a forgettable so you think you can dance duet. Then there was a series of dances based on motion. They were really kooky, but not in a way I enjoyed a lot. Some okay ideas, I suppose, but not great (plus some annoying music). Then there was dance of all men. I really liked it in theory, but it ended up being kind of a snoozer. The best thing was the kinda creepy old lady behind me had to say was that the men were good to look at (to be fair, I’m sure the number of times a creepy old man has said that about the girls in that auditorium is probably countless). Then there was a tango series that was pretty cool. It had a bunch of different pairs doing a bunch of different tango stuff. It was brief, but very cool. Last was an excerpt from a ballet. Probably a cool thing for them to do, but it wasn’t a ballet that excited me. I’m still not 100% on board with ballet, it has to be different, not the normal stuff, that is still a bit boring to me.

The Tempest – This was done at a space at Pima. It was decent. It was limited cast, people playing more than one character, which was done pretty well. The acting was good, the sets were minimal but sufficient. It wasn’t great, it didn’t feel amazingly professional. But for what it was I thought it was decent. I’d never seen or read the Tempest, but it’s a good enough story.

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana – This is, obviously, a flamenco show. It’s pretty standard, I think. Which isn’t to say it’s bad, it just doesn’t seem very different than other flamenco shows we’ve seen. The dancers are good, the musicians are good. Flamenco isn’t my #1 dance, it’s a ways down I suppose, but it’s cool. I don’t like the solos very much, but the group stuff and duet stuff is pretty good.

Sequence 8 – So this is a cirque du soleil kind of thing. They are french, I gather, and they are fucking ninjas. I’ve never seen a cirque show, even on video, let alone live. So I can’t really compare who is better at what, but these were pretty damn good. It is musical, which is good, some of it was as much dancing as anything. But the amazing stuff is the crazy acrobatics. There’s a trapeze dude who is pretty bad ass. A juggling dude that’s crazy. There’s a girl who can touch the ceiling bouncing on a flexible board called a russian bar. I googled it and I guess it’s common enough, but I hadn’t seen it before and it was amazing. I was pretty captivated from top to bottom, great show.

Guys & Dolls – I’ve never seen any form of this, it was pretty good. There were some real life troubles. The sign language interpreters were standing in front of us blocking 1/4 of the stage, which was frustrating (they could have moved 2 feet to the right, I think the people could still have seen them). And there was a legitimately crazy guy in the audience. Well, maybe not crazy, maybe just handicapped in some way, but rocking back and forth, making noises. There were police waiting for him at the end. Oh, also, someone had a cell phone conversation for a solid 45 seconds, no exaggeration. Yikes. But if I can somehow see past all the bullshit, the show was well done. The music is fun and the style is fun. It’s set in the 20s or so, and written in the 50s, so some of the attitudes are pretty antiquated, but it’s mostly fun. The people were pretty good singers, it was good.

Richter Uzur Duo – I’m not sure what I expected from this, but I really liked it. It’s a music professor or something from UA on guitar, kind of a classical guitar style though that might be wrong, and another dude on a cello. They play quite the variety. Some classical stuff, some covers of popular music (beatles, queen), some eastern european cultural stuff. All of it really good, really fun. Really enjoyable.

Feb 21, 2015


Awesome little modern day nursery rhyme. Funny too.

Book Reviews

Fahrenheit 451 – Among the many many gaps in my classic scifi knowledge, this is pretty high. For some reason I didn’t even read it when I did 1984, A Brave New World, and We a few years ago. But it is very very much in the style of those books. It is an old time dystopian. A single man is afloat in a world that is very foreign to us and seems even foreign to him. He struggles as he comes to realize the weight of his world, and eventually flails against it. It’s very different from the modern dystopias, with the band of teenagers fighting against the system. But it’s pretty good, it’s short, and it does it’s job, and it’s good.

Three Body Problem – This is a very well regarded Chinese science fiction book. I was really excited for it. Aliens, video games, mystery, what’s not to love? But it really didn’t come together for me. Style wise, it doesn’t work. It’s either because the translation is bad, or perhaps (I suspect) this is just the style of a Chinese writer. And to American ears, it sounds awkward. The dialogue in particular is so stilted and exclamatory. I’m giving it a lot of credit by assuming it’s a cultural stylistic thing. If it was an american author, I’d say it was actively bad. Besides that, even the story doesn’t work out for me. While the mystery is developing, it’s cool. But the pay off is kind of weak. It’s not revelatory, it just kind of slowly rolls out with a resounding meh. And the attempt to ground it in some sort of physics-based reality is forced and unconvincing. Everyone seems to love this book, so it must just be me, but I actively dislike it.

Foucault’s Pendulum – I picked this up because of the Templar graphic novel I read. In the afterword, the author talked about various things he read about the templars. This is supposedly the “thinking man’s Da Vinci Code.” I, uh, disagree. This, I’m pretty sure, is the first time I’ve ever given up on a book part way through. It took 50 pages before ANYthing happened. It took another 50 before the actual plot started. For another 40, nothing happened, and I gave up. This guy uses 5 words where one would do. It’s so long and rambling and pointless. Maybe he’s a genius and it all wraps together at some point and your mind is blown. But even if that’s true, you can’t drag someone through hours of crap on the hope that the payoff is worth it. The drag at least has to be enjoyable. The book couldn’t be more opposite of 3 body problem. The language is so ornate and over the top. Just because it has big words, doesn’t make it smart. Just because he has a thesaurus and has 5 synonyms for every adjective, and uses them all in one sentence, does not make him smart. I didn’t like 3 body problem, and I did finish it. But that doesn’t make it better than this, this was just so unbearably long I knew I wouldn’t make it.