Dec 13, 2014

Parable of the Polygons

An absolutely genius “game” that tricks you into revealing how small racial biases can lead to massive societal bias.

Movie Reviews

Transformers: Yet Another one – So wait, are you telling me that 2 hours and 15 minutes into a movie called “Robot Dinosaurs!!!”, I finally see my first robot dinosaur? Maybe that’s a spoiler, but if you are worried about spoiling the plot of Transformers 4, you might need to examine your life goals. This movie is not very good. To be fair, it’s better than the last one, I think maybe better than the second one. It has a couple of good fights. It has exactly 1 moment of self-awareness when the dad makes fun of the short shorts on the daughter (the same dopey short shorts that have been in every movie on the “hot” girl). The movie is astonishingly long. 2:45, I mean, holy shit. And it’s not like they were afraid to cut it down – there is some really bad editing. Like, literally I’m driving in a field, cut, I’m driving on a free way. No transition. I’m fighting with bumblebee, them bumblebee disappears for like 20 minutes. It is comically bad. Maybe criticizing editing in a Transformers movie is like worrying about the lack of emotional depth in an EDM song. Anyway, the movie isn’t very good, but I think it might be the 2nd best transformers movie. So, that’s some weird math.

Snowpiercer – This movie is pretty cool. In a world (say that in movie announcer voice) overrun by teenybopper dystopias that are largely exchangeable, this is a very different idea. The world has gone to crap, and all of humanity, that we know about anyway, lives on a forever running train. Within that context, its a kind of normal story with the powerful and the powerless and how that goes. But the context allows for very stark transitions among the castes, which is very cool. It feels kind of video gamey, moving from level to level, but that’s also kind of cool. It’s a bit slow, maybe drags on a bit more than it has to. The stuff toward the end is pretty cool, in terms of conflict for the hero. The very very end is pretty dumb, but maybe that’s me thinking too much. Overall, pretty cool.

Authors Anonymous – This movie is kind of depressing. It’s about a group of writers and their, mostly, lack of success. I would never ever ever want anyone I loved who is creative to watch this movie, it’s so freaking sad. The people are deluded, angry, pathetic, jealous. On the one hand, I’m sure there are people out there like this. It is kind of over the top, I can’t imagine people are this bad. I wouldn’t say its all that entertaining. It’s just kind of uncomfortable to see sad people do sad things.

A Million Ways To Die in the West – Against all odds, this movie is actually pretty funny. It is very juvenile and stupid, without question, but it never pretends to be anything else. I was pretty convinced from the ads that they had used up all their funny jokes and the rest of the movie was going to be terrible. The plot you can predict from the start, but the jokes in between are actually pretty funny. It’s kind of surprising, but I laughed pretty much throughout.

Edge of Tomorrow – I really like almost everything about this movie. It’s very easily described by saying it’s {this movie} in war with aliens. But I didn’t know that going in, and it was enjoyable, so I’ll leave it out just in case. But I really like the conceit. I really like the alien design, it’s almost completely unique though it is kind of like the things in the Matrix. I really like the look of the movie, I like the arc of the main character, I like the tech. The only thing I hate is the ending. It shouldn’t have been like that, I would have been much more effective without the last 2 minutes. I wonder if the original comic had that ending or not. But man if you hit stop a little early, I really like it.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Kind of like the first one, not that great. Some okay fights, some okay funnies, but mostly not super interesting. People who have read the comics know the end is coming, and I really wanted that to have impact. I’m not sure why it didn’t – whether because I was kind of unsatisfied with the rest, or if they just didn’t do a great job. It is one of the most famous moments in all of comics, it’s up there with the death of superman, or jason todd. It’s one of the top 3 marvel moments of all time, maybe the top. And it didn’t feel like that, which makes it a pretty big failure.

The Town – This is pretty good. At the one hand it’s a pretty normal cops & robbers kind of story. But it was pretty well done and pretty good to watch. It looks nice and all the performances are pretty good. If you just describe it, it sounds kind of boring, but it comes off good.

We’re the Millers – This one is pretty dopey, but it’s funny. I laughed more than I expected to by quite a bit. Maybe that’s a function of low expectations, but there were some pretty good moments. It’s ultimately not super memorable, but it’s a fun time.

Dallas Buyers Club – Pretty dang good, kind of hard to argue about that. Like many of these movies based on real stories, it’s just so bananas that it’s true it’s hard not to be captivated. And of course it’s pretty dang well done. Matthew McConaughey looks so sick it’s amazing, but also he does the job acting-wise. Everyone does, really, it’s good.

Pompeii – Meh, I guess I didn’t expect much. There’s some cool enough fighting, but honestly it’s been a month and a half since I saw it and I can only remember one scene in this movie.

Veronica Mars – I really liked the show, and I know it was an early kickstarter success but…. pppt. So boring! So… teen feeling. She’s much older now, this shouldn’t feel like nancy drew, right? I kind of wonder if I would like the show if I went back and watched it, because I was really unimpressed.

The Purge – Oh for christ’s sake. I know no one thought this was good, but it was shockingly not good. It’s just so dumb. I kind theoretically get behind unnecessary violence, but it has to have some sort of style or suspense or something. This was just dumb.

Her – I like this movie, but not as much as everyone acted like. I like looks into the near future, they can be really interesting. Scifi can be really interesting examining the far future, but looking at what’s around the corner, and how it reflects on us now, can be awesome (e.g. Black Mirror). So the first half or 3/4 of this movie is kind of that and pretty good. Granted, it’s too long by half, this really could have been an hour long TV episode. And then at the end it goes off the rails and gets silly. But it still has some interesting ideas.

R.I.P.D. – Men In Black with dead people. Yep. That’s pretty much it.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – I waited too long to write about this, so I can’t remember. I think I liked it? In kind of a whimsical sweet way. It’s kind of confusing, I’m never sure what happened and what didn’t. I guess that’s the point? But I was pretty sure it was all fake. But then they act like it’s real, and that’s kind of annoying. But besides that it’s nice.

Sep 22, 2014

Movie Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy – I’m not leading the charge here, but this movie is pretty great. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite Marvel movie besides Avengers. Mostly because it’s just fun. It doesn’t have the best action of the movies, it’s a lot of shooty shooty space planes, which you have to try harder to make awesome. The personal fighting stuff is cool, but not stand out. The fun level, though, absolutely is. I probably laughed more in this than most comedies I’ve seen lately. It hits a really great level of taking it’s own world seriously enough that you give a shit about the outcome, but with enough levity that 1) it’s fun and 2) you aren’t crushed under the weight of an ever increasing scale on the stakes. I’m glad to see Marvel has this under control, because if they are going to continue in to the off-earth side of the universe, they are going to need a sense of humor. I’ve never loved the celestial stuff, it’s too big, which in the comics tends to be a bit goofy. But I like this first foray. What else can I say, the characters are great, there’s only a couple times where the pretense falls a little flat. The soundtrack thing, as much as some are bitching about it, is really fun and smart and oddly natural. The worst part of the movie was the stinger, it was just weird and not funny and I really hope it is inconsequential, they can’t possible consider using that in the future. But anyway, great movie.

42 – This is the Jackie Robinson movie. It’s pretty good. You can’t help but feel like it oversimplifies life. I know that’s always true of a true story, but jeez. A couple of aholes, pretty quickly dealt with. I’m sure it was a lot harder and more complicated than that. You get a glimpse of what that must have been like, which is certainly something I can’t imagine. But it’s pretty well done.

Divergent – It’s fine, I guess. I’m told the movie did away with most of the teenage drama that’s in the books, and I thank it for that. The world kind of annoys me, honestly. I’m all for a dystopia, but I feel like this one is kind of dopey. The setup is just so forced, and arbitrary. It feels like too big a leap for everyone to suddenly fall into such a rigid caste system. If you can get past the setup, which I guess I couldn’t, the movie is fine. Pretty average in terms of fights and suspense and all that. No one has any powers, that’s kind of boring. When the greatest ability you have is to be both kind of smart AND like to run and punch people… kind of lame.

Captain Phillips – Can’t really argue with this movie being good. It tells what is a shockingly dramatic true (mostly) story, that almost can’t help but be good. I don’t know why they fudged what they did – mostly in turning Phillips in to more of a hero than he was. Seems unnecessary, it’s a crazy story without him being a saint, just tell it. I like the movie because it humanizes the bad guys. They could be pure evil, and there is one guy who is kind of that, but the rest are people. People who did bad things and don’t deserve to escape that fact, but people nonetheless. And if I were such a person, born in such a condition, I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same. So I like movie makers being comfortable showing that without feeling like they are excusing it. Also, Tom Hanks is mostly just a fine performance, and then in the last 5 minutes is a fantastic performance, so good on him.

The Lifeguard – Uck. I guess I can’t say why I don’t like this, because it’s not in the description so it’s a surprise? But suffice to say a normal person makes a really horrible choice (or series of choices, I guess). This isn’t an anti-hero, or a charming ruffian, or even a straight up villain protagonist. It is realish person with realish issues who makes a realish choice that is very bad. And there are no consequences, personally, professionally, in the eyes of the movie maker or (by extension) the movie watcher. I find it a bit disturbing that someone would make a movie with that story and think it’s okay. Regardless of the other qualities of the movie (which are otherwise uninteresting anyway), the ick aspect of it makes it bad.

Contracted – Bad movie. The story is some chick gets raped and gets some sort of mega disease. The rest of the movie is her just getting grosser and grosser and freaking out. She’s unlikeable, her reactions seem kind of ridiculous. The goals seems mostly to be very gross, which I guess it is, but it’s mostly just dumb with a lot of screaming.

The Raid 2 – Maaaaaan. The first movie was so good. It had a bit of boring story at the beginning at the end, but it knew what it was. It was a guy beating, stabbing, and shooting the holy shit out of an endless series of dudes until he stabs the final dude to death. And it was fantastic, choreography like I’d never seen before. This movie seems to completely forget about the first one. It is 2.5 (TWO POINT FIVE!) hours long. And fully half of it is completely useless talking. The story is both uninteresting and overly complicated. I give no shits about who betrayed whom or who doesn’t like whom. Just show me punching, christ. The action is decent, they go to some effort to offer alternative environments and constraints on the fights. Some succeed, some don’t. If it was just a solid 60 minutes of that, it still wouldn’t be the original, but it’d be good. With all the bullshit shoved in, it’s kind of bad.

Red Dawn – Meh, it’s fine. There was no real reason to remake this. I don’t think it added much of anything. The first one wasn’t very good either, but this doesn’t up the quality. The only thing I like about this movie is showing that terrorism is driven by perspective. The good guys in this movie are terrorists. But they are heroes because they are the rebels against the bad guys. Same tactics, different context –> different characterization. Granted, they make sure that these terrorists only kill bad guys. They don’t target civilians and there’s not a drop of collateral damage. Necessary if your heroes are to be heroes, I suppose. If you show realistic consequences things get less black and white. But still, I like the reminder that a freedom fighter and a terrorist aren’t so far from each other.

Monuments Men – Pretty good movie. This is the one where a bunch of dudes wade into the tail end of WW II and try to rescue art from Germans. Apparently a mostly true story, and it’s pretty cool. The idea of it just appeals so much to me that I can’t help but like it. Plus freaking George Clooney always makes such charming and funny movies. There’s little moments sprinkled throughout that make it pretty enjoyable, in addition to being interesting. Pretty good.

This is 40 – This movie is kind of crazy. It’s just a married couple, with kids and life troubles. Money and sex and parents and kids and all that. It’s pretty over the top, though. I mean, to its credit it doesn’t sugar coat anything and it feels like these arguments come out of real life. On the other hand, every single person in the room is just screaming at the top of their lungs, usually with a healthy amount of fucks thrown in. If that was real life, it’d be freaking exhausting. But it’s pretty funny, if nothing else the craziness makes me laugh.

Homefront – This movie is enjoyable in a vengeance kind of way. It’s a Jason Statham movie, so there’s a bunch of fighting. But honestly with the quality of fight choreography nowadays, Jason Statham movies are looking a bit tame. But still, this time an ex-DEA guy moves to a small town and immediately gets fucked with by a bunch of yokels. You hate the yokels, because they are drug addled assholes. And you can’t wait for him to beat the shit out of them. Then a bunch of other stuff supersedes that with people finding out who he is and coming after him and he has to go kill them instead. But still, it’s very straightforward with very bad bad guys and a good guy who can kill them. Yay.

Perfect Sense – This movie looks super dumb, but it’s actually very cool. It’s centered around a romance (the dumb part), but the context is interesting. Some disease or condition or dunno what starts spreading where people start losing their senses, as in 5 senses. It starts with smell and goes on. It’s kind of a really cool premise and mini examination of how people might cope. The main dude is a chef, so food is the focus for a while. But just the idea of what people do is actually very neat. Nothing really unexpected happens, after 30 minutes you understand what will happen for the next 60, but I still really enjoyed it.

Last Days on Mars – Ppt. I was kind of excited for a survival story of people who get stranded on Mars. Turns out to be some dumb zombie movie, it just happens to be on Mars. It’s not bad exactly, it’s not cheesy, it’s not bad acting. It’s just generic and not super interesting. Oh well.

True Legend – This is a kungfu movie, with all that entails. The story is pretty straightforward: two guys who are like brothers, one goes bad, kills the family, good guy needs revenge, etc. For no apparent reason with 20 minutes left the movie completely switches and the good guy invents drunken style fighting. Dunno why. But in any case the fighting is pretty good. It’s kind of a wire kungfu, which isn’t my preference, but the choreography is generally interesting. There’s a couple weird moments of CGI/funny editing that I also don’t understand. But overall it’s a good kungfu kinda movie.

Hick – Not sure I get the point of this movie. A teenager runs away, gets in a bunch of trouble, meets some shady people, gets away, runs away again, etc. Nothing really interesting about it. It’s not bad, exactly, the acting or writing aren’t noticeably bad. It just doesn’t seem to have much of a point to me.

John Dies at the End – There seems to be no point to this movie except to be surreal. Maybe that was cool in the book, but it seemed pretty dumb in the movie. There’s barely a thruline in this movie, it’s a bunch of weird shit happening. It’s told out of order, but that’s not why it’s confusing, it’s just trying really hard to be weird and I don’t get it. It’s not fun weird, and it’s not awesome weird, it’s just weird. I suppose it’s just not my style and if it was maybe I’d like it. But nope.

Man of Tai Chi – This movie is a decent kung fu movie. It’s a straightforward story – good guy, loses his way, goes bad, gets good again. The action is good. There’s not too much wire-fu, definitely some, but mostly in the flips off the ground and super spins and someone flying backward after a hit. Not so much the prancy floating stuff that I don’t like. The hand/foot work is good. Keanu Reaves is pretty unconvincing as a bad guy, not horrible, but not scary enough. It’s also hard to believe that he can keep up with the good guy, fists-wise. The guy from The Raid was up right before him and was completely wasted, which was really sad. The good guy is also kind of unconvincing. He’s very skilled, but he’s tiny and not very intimidating, which is kind of too bad. But it’s still good choreography and a good ninja movie.

Compliance – This movie makes me pretty angry, mostly because I can’t believe people are that evil or that dumb. It’s apparently based on a true story of some sociopath who called random retail stores and convinced people to do horrible things to other people. In this case, convincing a manager that he’s a cop, an employee is a criminal, and to do terrible terrible things to her. It’s upsetting that that man exists. It’s upsetting that a manager who is so dumb and pathetic as to let the things happen. The movie itself I guess is good? I had a feeling I couldn’t shake that the movie was just exploitive, though. They didn’t choose an ugly girl to have these horrible things done to her. They chose a hot blonde girl who was in her bra and panties for the majority of the movie. Who’s that for? Maybe I’m only upset by the story and that is transferring to the movie, but maybe the movie had shitty motives.

Starship Troopers: Invasion – This is an animated starship troopers sequel. I’m not sure where it happens in the timeline of the sequels, I haven’t seen any of them. It was pretty good, it’s nothing special, but there’s shooting and dead bugs and blood. For some reason there’s more than one animated booby. I feel like I can get a hold of pictures of boobies if I need them, animated or otherwise, I’m not sure why they are in the movie. I guess cuz there were boobies in the original? Anyway, it was fun, makes me want to go watch the original and then watch the two live action sequels.

It Felt Like Love – This one is pretty well done, but pretty sad. It’s just about a young girl, 14 or so, and how that part of life pretty much sucks. She wants to be like her friend who has boyfriends and has sex, but she has no idea. She fakes knowledge and experience to fit in. She tries to get involved with a college guy, makes some pretty bad decisions, because she’s desperate for someone to look at her that way, even though she doesn’t know what it means. It’s pretty well done. But man it does suck to be that age.

Nymphomaniac 1 – Pppppppt. How can a movie so jam packed with sex be so boring? I guess the “appeal” of the movie is that they really aren’t fucking around with the sex. That was a real blowjob. That was a real penis going in to a real vagina. Yikes. The sex is overt and constant. A lot of it is kind of disturbing, which is maybe exciting for some people, not so much for me. The rest of it is sexy, it’s basically porn half the time. But in between the sex is a completely uninteresting story about a girl who has been effed up most of her life and makes some pretty effed up decisions. But jeez it’s mostly just annoying and boring.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengence – The first of the “vengeance” trilogy. Pretty crazy. A not-so-good guy makes a dumb choice to try to help someone he loves. He then makes a very bad choice to try to make up for it. Subsequently, an otherwise-good guy makes an even worse choice (ish) in response. And first guy makes some choices in response too. No one is good, the movie on the one hand is looking at how one might react to horrible circumstances, which is interesting, but on the other hand is gratuitous and violent. It’s good, I suppose, but a bit much.

Oldboy – The second in the trilogy. This one has an american remake (prompting this watching spree). In this case a guy doesn’t absolutely nothing wrong, but gets in the way of a bad person. He is then imprisoned (by a guy, not by the government) for 15 years. When he gets out he tries to figure out why, but that’s just part of the bad guy’s plan. Bad guy imposes a truly awful revenge which, kind of, relates to what the innocent guy did to get in the way. It’s pretty terrible, and you don’t feel good at the end. But it’s a good movie.

Sympathy for Lady Vengence – Third one. Again, someone who was only kind of bad, gets turned mega bad. But the twist is she manages to recruit people in to being mega bad with her, for revenge. It’s kind of interesting, again asking what people would do at the end of grief. All three movies are good enough, though definitely trying to be gross. They are trying to be thought provoking, I guess, and only half succeeding, but that half is good. They are pretty slow paced and deliberate, but can have spurts of extreme violence. The juxtaposition is probably also part of the point. In the end, you feel pretty shitty about humanity.

Oldboy (2013) – Josh Brolin remake of the Korean movie. In the end, it brings absolutely nothing to the table except being in English. There is literally nothing about this movie that is better than the original, except that I don’t have to read the words. Where this movie is good, the original was better. And I JUST saw the original, so I’m not being hipster nostalgic here, I have no allegiance to the Korean version. This one just comes off as a copy. The one thing of significance it changes would only have been effective on someone who hadn’t seen the original, so I can’t judge that. It’s probably a worthwhile change in terms of misdirecting the audience, but I can’t say for sure. The one-take fight scene isn’t one-take here, and it’s also not as good. Josh Brolin is too much of a badass. The cool thing about the fight the first time around, besides being one take, is how clumsy it was. It was confined, and awkward, and the guy barely makes it through. That made it much cooler than brolin just being people up. If you really refuse to read subtitles, see this one over the original, but there’s no other reason.

Detention – Ugh. This movie is trying to be a new Scream, I guess. Very self-aware, trying to mock the teen/slasher genre. Apparently we are far enough from the 90s that we can be nostalgic about the 90s now. I mean, the movie doesn’t take anything seriously enough to take its nostalgia serious, but serious or not it talks a lot about the 90s. Mostly it’s just dumb, not clever, not funny, so just dumb.

Last House on the Left – I thought this was a horror movie, which is not to say that I had high hopes. Instead it’s a terrible people do terrible things to innocent people movie. The kind of movie that kind of preys on people’s fear of strangers or criminals wandering the woods waiting to kill you. The movie is pretty slimy. It spends a solid 2 minutes just staring at a (supposedly) underage girl. No pretense, no point, just the camera panning up and down her body as she puts on her clothes after a shower. Then they do horrible things that make you feel bad for watching. Then I guess you are supposed to feel happy about bad things happening to the bad people. But not really, it’s just gross.

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane – Ppt, another teen slasher. Doesn’t bring anything interesting to the table, focuses an awful lot on how hot Amber Heard is. To be fair, she is pretty hot, but I’m not sure that that justifies a 90 minute movie. The movie tries to be clever in the end, but it’s kind of  “so what” clever. Then it tries to double back on its cleverness, but at that point I super don’t care.

Escape from Planet Earth – Random netflix play, but it was actually fun. It’s just a cartoon about some aliens. It doesn’t ask much of you, and it gives enough in return. It’s cute and made me laugh (probably more than This is 40 did) and was a good way to spend an evening.

360 – This movie is mostly about a bunch of people in crappy relationships who make some crappy decisions. That’s not everyone, to be fair, there are a couple of legitimately interesting characters. Specifically the recently released convict and the older guy. The con especially, who is a sex offender and is trying to deal with the temptation of real life. That was actually interesting. But the rest of it is just boring. It tries to do the Crash thing where everyone intertwines, but it really just feels like a bunch of forced connections that don’t have any subtler meaning.

Coriolanus – This movie didn’t get a fair shake from me. It’s a modern retelling of a Shakespeare story that I’ve never known about. It is set in modern day Italy, but the language is all old timey still. I think it’s probably pretty good. I didn’t have the patience for it, I had to wiki the story to even follow it, and I insisted on playing a game while it was on. It seems to be that Ralph Fiennes was staggeringly good. Just something about a british guy doing that shakespeare stuff full force like that is hard to ignore.

District 13: Ultimatum – The first D13 was kind of a 2 hour parkour session loosely strung together with a story. This movie drops a bunch of the parkour for more fighting, which is too bad. Not that the fighting is bad, but I can see that anywhere. The parkour was why it was so cool the first time, it’s too bad there’s less of it. The story is a story, fine, it doesn’t get in the way too much. But the movie drops to a kind of average action movie.

Silent Hill: Revelation – I don’t know if I’m drunk, but I actually enjoyed this! If I am to believe the entirety of the internet, it should be deep fried crap on a stick. But I didn’t think it was bad! I mean, it’s not wonderful, but it’s one of the better horror movies I’ve seen lately. That’s not saying much, but still, I thought it told a silent hill story just fine. It’s nothing like the game still, I don’t know that a movie (where you have no control and just follow) can ever be like a game (when you have full control yet still feel helpless). But I thought it was fine.

Video Game Reviews

Bastion – I LOVE this game. I can’t believe it took me so long to play it. I’ve owned it for a couple years, I just never started it because I knew I had to listen due to the narration (I couldn’t watch TV at the same time). But wow is it good. The game is fun, it’s not overly complex, but it’s a perfect level of gameplay for enjoying the rest. And the rest is beautiful. The art is beautiful. The music is fantastic, reminds me of Firefly. The story is so cool, I love the end and the implications for new game plus. It is downright a nearly perfect game, I don’t know what I would change. I love Skyrim, but it’s a marathon, I loved it over 26 miles. I love it intellectually and in the way that you compulsively play it for hours. But I love this game in an emotional way, it was such a joy. This game is a perfect beautiful sprint; I suppose I could go play new game plus and get achievements and all that to drag it out, but it was great just like that.

The Last of Us – What is so astounding about this game is how great it is, despite being so normal. There’s nothing new here with the story. Zombie apocalypse, mcguffin potential cure, survive the zombies, survive the humans, make it through, same ole same ole. The gameplay isn’t anything to be excited about, it’s just Uncharted, except less-so because there’s no climbing stuff (not that that was that great). It’s not bad, it’s fun to play, but it’s nothing new (and aiming a gun with analog sticks is terrible). I guess the stealth is fun, and certainly preferable to trying to aim, but in the end not new. Yet, this game is amazing. It is just so freaking well done. The voice acting is better than any other game, ever. The facial animations are fantastic. Now, the words rarely match the mouths, which is really distracting and almost ruins the whole thing. But if you watch the eyes or something instead, it’s totally believable. The relationship between the two is probably the most honest I’ve seen in any video game, and in most of media. Despite being a totally normal story, I was captivated and couldn't wait to see what happened next. Pretty great.

Darksiders – I don’t know what took me so long with this game. I played an hour of it probably 2 years ago and I just never picked it up again. It’s fun, though. It’s just a god of war game, except with christian mythology instead of greek. But hey, christian mythology is actually really cool, as long as you aren’t talking to someone who thinks it actually happened. So you go around beating the shit out of various creatures, ripping their wings off (a la GoW), chopping their heads of (a la GoW), splitting them in half (I think you get it). You get a powers/weapons as you go, get to go new places (a la.. wait for it, Metroid. Ha, didn’t see that coming). Eventually you kill the bad guy. It’s all pretty fun, looks pretty good given that it’s 4 years old (on PC anyway). I’ll certainly play the sequel when it goes on sale.

Bully – I’m pretty impressed with this game, even though I didn’t have a ton of fun. It is essentially GTA in boarding school. The impressive aspect is it’s not just a skin, they did rethink aspects of the gameplay to fit the context. A lot of it is still in common, but it doesn’t just feel like GTA with kids. The class stuff is cool too. It’s an old game, so it looks pretty ass-y, but it isn’t its fault that I took so long to play it. In the end, I don’t find the game to be a lot of fun. At least half the point of GTA is mayhem, and there’s none of that in this game. You can start a fight, but it won’t really go anywhere. You can’t really fight the authorities. You can’t steal a tank and roll down the hallways. The very reasonable limitations of the game – no killing, class schedule, no fighting cops, etc – make the game restrictive and kinda sleepy. I still liked it, the story was fine I guess, I just got kind of bored pretty quick and wanted to get through it.

Aug 2, 2014

Movie Reviews

Great Gatsby – This movie was much better than I thought it’d be, but unfortunately it’s still not good. It had some good ingredients, but is ultimately kind of a failure. The acting is good, I’m not blown away by anyone, but it’s solid. I actually really like the mix of modern music with old timey parties. For some reason, it works pretty well. Although, it’s going to look absolutely ridiculous in about 5, maybe 10 years. Modern music with old timey parties is cool. Out of date music with old timey parties is lame. But, the movie is very hollow, led strongly by its horrible, horrendous, awful, laughable CG everything. For as much money as this movie must have cost, I have no idea why the CG is so bad. It was obvious from the trailer, it looks like a video game cut scene from 2008. The city, the car chases, the houses, the unnecessary zooms, all of it. And worst of all they occasionally try to have a human in the frame during the CG, which looks really bad. And worst of worst of all, they transition from a human in a real scene to a digital fake human-ish monstrosity in a CG scene. Maybe the movie is better than I think, but under all this bad CG, I really can’t tell. For a little while I considered that maybe the CG sheen was on purpose, to somehow represent the lavish over the top life style. But even the shitty dirt poor part of town, which is anything but lavish, looks shiny and fake.

The Numbers Station – Kind of a random action/spy movie with John Cusack defending a cryptography hut from bad guys. It’s kind of generic, not a lot to say about it, but it’s good enough for a weekend movie.

The Trip – Pretty weird movie. Nominally about two friends (ish) going on a foodie road trip for a magazine. Both are actors and kind of in competition. I think it must be largely improvised, the two guys spend a lot of time going on and on. It is at times really funny. The way they make fun of each other and the banter back and forth is good. They do a lot of impressions. Like, a lot of impressions. It’s hilarious at first. It gets old pretty quick. Although they could do Michael Caine for ever and I’d watch. But the rest of them get pretty tiresome pretty quickly. The movie in general kind of goes on and on, not sure why it had to be nearly 2 hours. But it has a pretty entertaining hour of goodness, it just needed some trimming.

The Internship – This is actually funnier than you’d expect. It’s fully 50% boring and rote. The story plays out exactly like you’d expect and none of it is particularly interesting. But half of it is actually pretty dang funny and some scenes really had me going. Given some of the crap I’ll voluntarily put on my TV, this was pretty entertaining.

Couples Retreat – So, remember the crap I just mentioned? Yeah. To be fair, I’ve watched much worse. It’s just a low quality mainstream comedy. It’s not god awful, there are some funny parts, but nothing I’d miss if I hadn’t seen it.

2 Guns -  I don’t know, I guess this movie was good enough. It has a cool set up with who is on whose side. Eventually it just becomes a bit overwrought and silly. It’s kind of like the writers heard about a mexican standoff and decided to see how many mexicans (metaphorically) they could cram in at once.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – Meh, just like the first one. Low end YA fantasy. Nothing about it is particularly horrible, it’s not a twilight movie or anything. It’s just a random movie about teenagers with special powers saving the world, not very memorable.

American Hustle – This was okay, really. It’s a weird movie, pretty slow at times. But the actors do a good job. I can’t remember much about it, I have a generally medium-to-positive feeling about it, but I marked it as 2 stars on netflix a month ago, so maybe I didn’t like it. Oh well.

The Lego Movie – This movie is great. I never would have imagined it’d be good, but then everyone said it was, and it’s true! It’s really funny. Kind of a simpsons-like humor where you aren’t really busting out laughing, but you chuckle quitely because something was clever. More funny than the simpsons, though, and a lot of funny references. I liked it a lot, and it even ends up with a very touching ending. Good stuff.

This is Martin Bonner – This movie is reeeeeeally slow. It’s about an older guy who has had a change of life and is now working for a program that helps prisoners readjust to real life upon release and his time with one such prisoner. The two guys do a pretty good job, in a very sedated way. But it’s that kind of movie, so it’s not a criticism. It is an excellent little slice of these guys’ lives and struggles. But it is just that, a slice, so it just ends all of a sudden. No real resolution, you just see a part of their story, and you assume the story keeps going after. Kind of awkward, but obviously done on purpose, so not bad.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People – Get this, Simon Pegg plays a jackass. No no, really, he plays a total self absorbed asshole who only wants to be contrarian, drink, and get some. And then by the end of the movie, he realizes the error of his ways. Spoilers, but not really. But it’s actually a decent movie. Nothing to be exciting about, but funny at times and it runs through it’s admittedly standard story fine. I guess it’s a romantic comedy, but it’s mostly about the latter, which it only has some of. But hey, it has Kirsten Dunst, and it’s not a total disaster, I take that as a measure of success.

Video Game Reviews

Skyrim – I finally played Skyrim and it’s all it’s meant to be. I didn’t do a lot with mods, but I did install an alternative inventory management system cuz the default one sucks. And an advanced lighting one because why not. But I didn’t install anything to change the gameplay or story. The game is pretty great, pretty much exactly as I remember oblivion. I’m not sure what, if anything, is different between the two. I guess the voice thing, but I almost never used that. It is fun to blow someone off the top of a mountain, but the rest of the shouts are meh. I did eventually run out of juice, I played the damn thing for 116 hours, according to Steam. Around 100 I started pushing on the main quest because the value of becoming Thane of every town with more than 10 citizens seemed to wane. I never did the vampires, the thieves, the dark brotherhood, all the daedra, and I barely started the werewolves. It wasn’t that it wasn’t all fun, I had just played so much. It is officially my most played game on steam, beating out star trek online, which I’m shocked to discover I had over 100 hours of. So, yeah, I obviously loved it, but there’s not much I wouldn’t be bored off after triple digit hours.

Octodad – This went on sale just as I was winding up Skyrim, and it seemed like the perfect palette cleanser. It’s a goofy physics game on the vein of surgeon simulator or QWOP, but not so hard. You control an octopus who is pretending to be a man and you complete various mundane tasks. But you control your “feet” and “hands” with some goofy physics so the challenge is to do things without destroying your surroundings or prompting suspicion. It’s silly, but it’s fun. There’s a co-op mode, dunno what that’s about, each person controls an arm? The game is very short, I beat it in a couple hours. I guess I could go back and get all the secrets but that’s silly. It’s funny that I paid $5 for 2 hours here and $7.50 for 116 skyrim hours. But that’s not a reflection on this being a bad deal, skyrim was just an amazing deal.

Zeno Clash – I’m way behind on this one, but it went on sale at some point. I admire what these folks were trying to do. It’s super hard to make a first person melee game. It’s interesting, but not all that fun. The controls are mostly uncomfortable and annoying. The style of the game is certainly unique. It doesn’t really mesh with me, and I don’t know why. I feel like they deserve a lot of credit for being totally different. But mostly I was just trying to get through the game, not super enjoying it.

Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall – I quite liked the first release of SR. It had it’s limitations, for sure, and parts were a bit rocky. But I love the world too much not to love a chance to play in it. This game, technically, is basically exactly the same. Theoretically they added options and fixed stuff up, but I played basically the exact same character (mostly mage), so it seemed pretty similar. Things were a little smoother, but I didn’t really have too many problems the first time around. Most annoying thing is how crazily slow saving is, not too bad a primary complaint. People made a big deal of the story, and it is pretty good. Certainly had me hooked in more than the first game. The way it plays out is pretty good, and the admittedly binary choice at the end is a good one. The other “better” aspect is you are supposed to feel more like a shadowrunner, that didn’t really work out. Yeah, you could choose your missions a little bit, but there was a pretty short list, and you had to get through the majority of them to progress the story, so that makes it a lot less optional. It was better than the first game, but still wasn’t much different. I’m playing a community campaign now that is much more of the get a random job style. The list of jobs is pretty small, there’s just not that many types of missions you can have. But it’s fun, I’m not sure if I’ll play through its whole story before I get bored, but we’ll see. Anyway, I love shadowrun, I wish I could play it pen and paper again. This game is as close as I’ll get, so I like it.

Jun 24, 2014

Movie Reviews

X-men: Days of Future Past – This movie was pretty fun, though I kind of feel let down. I had heard the opening fight was the best of the movie, and that’s true. Unfortunately, it’s only a good fight, it’s not amazing. I love Blink, she was used really well. Seeing Sunfire was cool, but he didn’t do much. Warpath is lame and was used lamely. Bishop is cool and was totally wasted. Colossus is boring, but was also totally wasted. The coolest part of the movie is probably Quicksilver’s scene, that was fun. I can’t stand him as a character, but I never liked him in the comics, so that fits. The rest of the movie is kind of meh. The story is pretty dumb and kind of falls apart if you think too hard. But there’s enough cool stuff in it to like it.

Captain America 2 – I liked this movie. I liked the first one, which didn’t seem to be the common consensus. I never liked Cap that much, too one dimensional, but the first movie captured that essence really well, I thought. This one leans less on that (except in the “We can’t let the NSA, *cough*, I mean SHIELD take away our liberty” conversation, and more on the shooty shooty fighty fighty. But it’s all good shooty fighty. For being a relatively lame super hero, the action was good. Granted, the bad guy has to be a dude with a tin foil arm, not a real villain, but you gotta swing in your league. But the movie is fun, the fights are good, I love how it ties into the TV show. In fact, we had to go see this in the theater, which I otherwise would never have, just so I could stay caught up. Well played, Marvel.

Thor 2 – Also liked this movie. Was not a fan of the first one. The stuff in Asgard was pretty cool, the stuff on Earth was a snoozer/melodrama. This movie is much more the former than the latter. The only earth stuff is an excuse either to jump start more Asgard stuff, motivate the ending, or throw in some humor, all of which is done fine. More punchy punchy blasty blastly, all of which is fine. Another fun time.

Frozen – Um, so… this is the best Disney move in 10 years, huh? I guess that’s not saying much? I really don’t get why everyone loves this so much. I’ve heard more about this movie than the last decade of Disney, cumulatively. But it’s really no better than any of those. It’s of the same archetype of all the modern disney movies. Overly self-aware, overly hip, and overly pop. The music isn’t that good, it all sounds over produced and like whatever teenage girl is popular these days. There’s one song, with the trolls, that felt like 90s disney to me, I liked that one. The main song is pretty awful, its twangy, warbly, and has a horrible message. Elsa is basically the worst, she makes selfish choices from top to bottom until someone ELSE makes a sacrifice. Great, good job, I’m glad somebody else learned your lesson for you.

Anchorman 2 – Yeah, this is kind of what you’d imagine. It’s funny, I laughed, but jeez they really do recycle all their jokes. Remember the thing where he makes strange exclamations like Odin’s beard? He does that. Remember how he’s a flaming asshole and then becomes good? Yep. Remember how there’s a news team gang fight? You got it. It almost seems like a parody of itself, it is repeating so much material. It’s funny, but it’s nothing like the first one (in that it’s everything like the first one).

12 Years a Slave – Well, I’m not sure I can add much to this conversation. It’s a very very good movie. And shocking that it’s based on something that happened. The main guy does an astonishing job, he’s very very good. I’m not totally sure why the girl got an Oscar. Not that she didn’t do a good job, but she had a kind of small part. She was good, but not amazing. But still, the movie is everything it ought to be and very good.

The Wolf of Wall Street – Ugh. As interesting as it is, as train wreck as it is this movie kind of makes you sick. Sick that it all could happen, sick that it’s surely still happening. And sick that by watching the movie I indirectly give this asshole even more money to keep on being his assholey self. It’s a well made movie and everyone does a good job, but you feel kind of dirty for watching it.

Riddick – Seemed so much like the previous ones, I seriously questioned if I accidentally rented it twice. But, I love the first one, I really like the 2nd. Riddick kills the shit out of stuff for a couple of hours, loosely strung together with a motivation. Good stuff. The last line between Starbuck and Riddick is horrendous and offensive, however.

The Hunger Games 2 – Okay, I said I liked the first one okay, but I was much more interested in the fight-the-dystopia story than the games. If I wanted to see games, I’d go watch Battle Royale again. But hey, the first HG clearly ended by setting up a revolution, right? And the second movie was going to be all about that, right? God dammit, this is just more games. The THIRD movie is the revolution?

Gravity – Honestly, I went in to this movie prepared to dislike it a bit, so much hype. But gosh dang it was pretty. There isn’t really a lot to the story, from the words on the box you get the basic outline, that’s not really the point. And I guess the actors do well, but again not the point. The visuals are just so cool. We don’t see a lot of CG space stuff that’s based on real things. There’s spaceships and space stations and lasers and all the rest for days, but I’m not sure the last time I saw the ISS. I definitely didn’t see it get torn apart by debris. And just all the visuals of the earth itself and the stuff in orbit is worth it. Kind of reminded me of Sunshine, without all the horror, just beautiful to watch.

The Book Thief – This is a pretty sad movie. I guess it’s supposed to be uplifting, hope amongst despair, that kind of thing. But it’s mostly pretty sad. It’s well done, everyone does a good job. The kids are a bit iffy, but mostly pretty good. The narrator was… odd. Completely unnecessary. Maybe it was cooler in the book? And the ending was way too convenient. Which isn’t to say it was a happy ending, there’s lots of sadness. But even the way the sadness worked out was way too convenient. Pretty good though.

Saving Mr. Banks – This was pretty good. I didn’t know anything about this story except a little of what we saw at the Disney exhibit in Chicago. The movie is a bit too drawn out. Quite a bit, honestly. It takes a long time to fill in the back story even though it’s very clear what’s happening. Even though you know she’ll have good reasons for being such a nasty person, she really is intolerable. It was an exercise in patience to put up with her until she lets go. But still, in the end, it’s incredibly sweet and you understand why everyone is the way they are and it’s a pretty cool story.

Prisoners – There’s nothing wrong with this movie, but it didn’t catch me. Some kids go missing, and a father goes basically insane trying to find his daughter. He does some awful things because he is so desperate to get her back. So, you kind of ask the expected questions. How far should he go. What if he’s wrong. Is he becoming what he hates. Etc etc. To some extent, you can kind of see all this coming and that makes it kind of boring. Yet, it is well done by all involved. Hard to judge, I guess.

The Butler – So, this movie is very very good. I guess there’s almost no way it couldn’t be good. Fantastic acting, amazing story. I guess it’s not literally true, it’s a bit of an amalgamation with some of the events and some of the family. But the core of the dude who is a white house butler for all that time is true. The scope of history is just too powerful for the movie not to be good. To go from plantation to functional slavery to seeing the first black president – that’s a life I cannot imagine. I can’t imagine anything in my life will ever be as impactful as that sequence of events. Very good.

Red 2 – I actually like the first one quite a bit. It was dumb, but everyone seemed to know it and it was a lot of fun. This one is basically the exact same movie again, which is kind of boring. It’s still fun, I guess, but there’s not much interest in watching it over again.

Don Jon – Mehhhhh. This is the one about the dude who loves porn, and then has to try to give it up for a girl. I can’t exactly blame the movie, it is exactly what it it sets out to be. It’s not like I can say I was tricked by the trailer. The guy is obnoxious. The girl is obnoxious. These people are very unlikable. So, I can’t bring myself to care much about their dopey story. But hey, I pressed play on a movie called Unlikeable People Do Dopey things, so, there ya go.

Okay, I’m behind, so let’s do a lightning round:

The Mortal Instruments – Shockingly bad. Like, as in you have to try to be this bad.

Battle of the Year – Bad acting, good dancing, fair trade.

The Croods – Silly, but funny, better than Frozen.

The World’s End – Better than Hot Fuzz, not nearly as good as Shaun of the Dead, I would have been happy with a Cornetto Unilogy.

Kiss of the Spider Woman – Really weird, I thought I was getting a musical. Instead it was a character study that was mostly depressing. It might be good if you are in the right mood, but I wasn’t, so it wasn’t.

Kick-ass 2 – Like the first one, but without any of the originality. Okay fights and some fun, but nothing super memorable.

  Dreamscape – Ha. This is a goofy 80s movie that does everything goofy you could hope for. But I didn’t see it in the 80s, so it just seems dopey.

Make Believe – Odd little documentary about teen magicians. It’s interesting, in a kooky way, because I don’t know anything about any of them. It’s not exciting or anything, but it’s kind of cute.

Apr 4, 2014

Russian Roulette

If I told you that a short film about chat roulette was good, you’d call me a liar. That’s fair, but it actually is.

Mar 14, 2014

Event Reviews

Compagnie Kafig – This is a group of 11 Brazilian dancers doing kind of hip-hop, but with lots of influences from that part of the world and elsewhere. To be honest, the show started off really rocky. It’s split in two parts, the first one being very… abstract. Not a lot of music, a lot of bicycling and running motions. Not a lot of dancing, really. The guys were obviously very talented, but the choreography was too interested in being clever and cute, and not enough in dancing. Fortunately, the second half happened. The theme there was water, which was kind of whatever, but the dancing was brilliant. The used a bunch of plastic cups with water in them as a prop. At first it seemed forced, but it was pretty damn cool. Dancing among the cups, dancing with the cups, pouring the water, all pretty good. More importantly there was some real choreography that really showed the guys off. There were a few of them that were pretty fantastic. Crazy powerful in the floor work and just impressive all around. Toward the end a dude did a headspin longer than I’ve ever seen by 2 or 3 times. The first half was a bear, but the second half was a blast.

Inon Barnatan – This guy is a fancy piano player. What he played was a bit of a mix for me. I can’t remember any of the names of the composers anymore, but I know there was a more classical section and a more modern (1900s) section. And, surprisingly, I liked the modern music more. Not all of it, but some of it was pretty good. The older stuff was pretty boring for me. But, as always with these classical folks, it’s no fault of his. He was very very good at his job. There was a few things he was playing where his hands were literally a blur to my eyes. It was astonishing how quickly he was playing, very very impressive.

Quartet for the End of Time – Or…. not. I don’t know what else to call these guys, this is what they showed up to play. But their violinist got food poisoning and was in UMC. Unfortunately, as they joked, it’s not a Trio for the End of Time. So they couldn’t do it. That was a bummer, because it’s a pretty well known piece, written by a french guy in a german POW camp during WWII and performed by said guy and 3 other musicians who (somehow) had their instruments. Then 3 of them get shipped back to france, but the clarinetist is jewish and isn’t going back to france because he doesn’t count. So he literally jumps out of the train clutching his clarinet and makes it back home. Crazy. Anyway, they play a couple excerpts from the real thing that happen to be violin-less. And my conclusion from those is I wouldn’t have liked the Quartet much. The clarinet solo was this stupid bird thing. The three piece wasn’t very good. A couple other classic things they played were boring. But then the clarinetist, a jewish dude, rocked the shit out of some klezmer music. Like, holy balls. He did the longest circular breathing (on a clarinet!!!) I’ve ever seen in my life. He did some insane solo which was not at all fun to listen, but very impressive. But most of the klezmer music was really really good. Kind of ended up being a klezmer show instead of a trio, but it was pretty good.

Danu – We saw the Chieftains a couple years ago, so I guess this is the follow up. I can’t say exactly how they are different, seems like another folky irish band. But, I like folky irish bands, so no problem. The musicians were good. The fiddler was probably the best, the rest were good. There was a flute/singer lady. I wasn’t digging her flute at first, she sounded chronically out of breath. But she got into it (or I stopped hearing it, I don’t know) after a couple songs and was good. Fun time.


Pretty cool little Batman vs Terminator short.

Feb 8, 2014

Movie Reviews

Hobbit 2 – This movie is much like the first one, which is to say it’s much like the first 4. It’s good, I like it a lot and have a lot of fun. It has the same flaws the Hobbit had, and the same strengths. I can imagine how people are sick of this by now, but I sure do love the fighty fighty staby staby. I know people say there’s a lot of walking, and… there’s a lot of walking. The CGI, exactly like the first one, is at times brilliant and at times shockingly bad. Like, I just learned photoshop this weekend bad. I have a theory that it’s 3D’s fault. The stupid characters just stand out too much from their environment and it looks way fake and I wonder if that’s because they are being pieced into layers so that 3D can be all 3Dey. But, I haven’t seen them in 2D, so I don’t know for sure, maybe they suck there too. Yet there’s plenty of things that look incredible, I really don’t know why some are one and some are the other. Anyway, it’s exactly what you expect, but if you can’t get enough of middle earth characters and creatures battling, then it’s great.

Pacific Rim – What can I say, it’s transformers vs. godzilla, just like everyone said it was. And that’s pretty great. I had heard that the movie was kind of bad, sans the awesome battles. It’s not particularly good or anything, but it’s not bad. I’ve certainly seen much worse acting, dialog, and plot in movies that got much less hate. It’s just good enough to serve the rest, which is pretty bad ass fights between giant things. Pretty cool.

Oblivion – I actually liked this movie quite a bit. It’s got a very pretty style that combines the white sheen of an apple store with the wasteland of a fallout game, but the parallel works. The story is cool, it tries to twist and turn, but you generally stay one step ahead of it. It kind of falls apart at the end, you really can’t think too hard about that part. But it’s still a cool movie.

Now You See Me – I’m of two minds about this movie. On the one hand, it’s a lot of fun. It’s very funny, it’s a good ride, all that good movie stuff. On the other hand, overly complex movies can never be satisfying to me. It’s just too much to believe that all these intricate things planned a lifetime in advance could possibly work out in just the right order to make just the right conclusion. You really have to turn your brain off to buy that any of this is happening. But while you are there, it’s very entertaining. Also, that main guy was an asshole. Just because you are a clever asshole doesn’t make you not an asshole. And you have to work a lot harder to make your bad guy unlikeable before you can let your star be such a flaming asshole.

Rise of the Guardians – This movie isn’t that great. The first half is kind of a bear to get through, honestly didn’t laugh very often. The second half is better, maybe pushed forward by the story I don’t know. It seemed to get funnier. But still, pretty low on the list of cartoon comedies.

Stand-up Guys – This was a surprise. I thought it was that movie where all the old gangsters get together and do stupid things and say I’m too old for this shit a lot. Turns out, not that movie. Instead it’s Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as old gangsters who do stupid things and are too old, but it’s actually good. Al Pacino is just out of prison and they have a night of frivolity. I really thought it would be corny and dumb, and there’s some dumbness sure, but I actually like the relationship between the guys. Not an amazing movie or anything, but decent.

An Adventure in Space and Time – I’m not positive this counts as a movie, but we’ve watched so much Doctor Who lately, I felt like it anyway. This is a biopic about the creation of the show and the first doctor. We’ve only watched the 2005+ version, so I didn’t know anything about the origin. The movie is very cool. In the end, it’s very touching. There’s some interesting parallels between William Hartnell and the fictional Doctor too, like everyone leaving and him just moving forward. The movie is pretty well done. With the exception of a couple bad moments, it’s written and acted well. Then again, I’m a bit biased because I like the subject matter so much.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Well, this movie isn’t really for me, to be fair. It’s a teenager movie about teenagers, for teenagers. In that context, I think it’s probably a pretty good one. I will always be annoyed with the story about the kid who doesn’t have any friends who… has friends. Or the kid who can’t get a girl who… gets a girl. Those stories are very fake to me, yes they happen, but it seems to me it doesn’t speak to the people for whom it doesn’t happen. But I guess the other version of the story is not very uplifting. So, okay, it’s a teenager movie, and one in which the kid gets things he wants. With that, it’s pretty good and I think it does everything it wants to do.

Monsters University – This movie is very fun. It, like the last couple Pixar movies, is just fun. It’s not amazing like the best of Pixar. It’s not even as good as the first Monsters. But it is funny, it is cute, it is sweet. It’s an above average animated movie. Just a below average Pixar movie (although, that average is dropping).

Europa Report – I actually liked this quite a bit. It’s basically a found footage movie, but not horrible, which is kind of amazing. The conceit is a manned mission to Europa goes awry and Earth loses contact. Then they find all the footage from the mission and we see what happened. So the whole movie is cameras in and around the spacecraft, which is just enough to tell the story, just enough to hide the unknown. The stuff that goes wrong is drawn out, they bounce around in time a little bit to help. For a presumably low budget movie, they do very well by confining their scope. Pretty good.

Moneyball – I liked this movie. Granted, it’s about math and statistics succeeding, that’s kind of appealing to me. But it’s well done as well. It’s not fancy, it’s a pretty straightforward movie. But everyone does a good job and it’s a cool story. So I liked it. Not having much to say makes it seems like I don’t care, but it’s one of the better movies on this list.

Elysium – Another dystopian/utopian future movie. Seems like there’s a lot of these lately. I liked this okay. I guess I had heard such bad things I had pretty low expectations. The first 20 minutes are pretty dumb with the over the top and ridiculously implausible political allegory. But the rest of the movie does what it’s trying to do. I liked District 9 a lot more, to be sure, even though it was also pretty on the nose with the allegory. This one turns in to a video game about halfway through, which is actually pretty badass. Some of the violence is kind of insane, but it’s cool.

She’s Crushed – Yikes. I only watched this because Keith from KATG is in it. It’s…. really bad. Not even like enjoyably bad, just bad bad. To some extent it’s just because it’s an amateur movie, which means it doesn’t look as good, isn’t filmed as well. The sound is bad, which is interesting, I don’t know that I’ve noticed that before, it kind of seemed muddled. Even if all that was kind of forgivable, the movie is just dumb otherwise.

Despicable Me 2 – I didn’t think this was very good. I seem to remember liking the first one, at least a little. This I thought was pretty bland. I laughed out loud now and again, but not that often. And since it wasn’t really a redemption story (well, kind of for the one guy), it didn’t have the sweetness of the first one. So, meh.

The Wolverine – Granted, after the shitshow that was the first one, anything is going to look good, but this was decent. I wasn’t super in to it, but I feel like it did everything it was trying to do. Some decently cool fighting. Wolverine actually uses his claws as weapons instead of glorified scissors. The claws still look pretty bad. I don’t understand how in a movie with this much special effects the claws still look like roger rabbit. But that’s mostly when he’s posing (which, to be fair, is about 20% of the movie). In action they look fine and are used healthily (well, unhealthily, but you know what I mean). Still not an amazing movie by any stretch, but kind of on par with the mid-range non-fox marvel movies. The trailer tag was pretty bad ass though.

Video Game Reviews

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – This game is very good. It’s short, Steam tells me 3 hours, but it packs a punch. You play two brothers out on a quest to get medicine for their dad. The mechanical hook is that you control both boys at once, one with each analog stick. That’s interesting and different, and then you do a lot of running around and platforming and puzzle solving. The game is beautiful. The character models and animation are just okay, but the environments are beautiful. You are encouraged to literally sit on a bench now and again and watch the scenery, which I did every time. There’s no words, they speak kind of a simlish thing, but you are never confused about what’s going on. The game is most reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, to me. Which is a bit unfair, because SotC is one of my top games ever, so it’s not nice to compare to that. It doesn’t have nearly the sense of awe or scale that SotC did, but it certainly has a very human, very heartbreaking element to it that most games don’t have the ability or will to pull off.

Rogue Legacy – I’m not done with this, but it’s hard to say when you are done with a rogue-like. Presumably there is an end if I can get good enough to beat all the bosses. But I’m not sure that will ever happen (I never beat FTL, after all), so I have to write something sometime. Basically you are a dude exploring a castle, killing monsters, getting gold (to upgrade your stats/abilities/equipment), etc. It’s a roguelike in that the castle resets everytime you die and go back in (although you can pay a dude a % of your money to keep it the same). It’s not as harsh as most RLs, because you don’t loose all your upgrades. Your character does die, and the cute thing is that the next one you play is a descendent of the last one. It’s very fun, very addicting. It’s not special, it isn’t anything as powerful as Brothers. But I have put a few hours into it already and I’m sure I’ll put more before I either beat it or get bored.

Fallout: New Vegas – Alright, released literally 3 years ago, right on schedule! Well, I loved Fallout 3. This is basically the exact same game, near as I can remember. But it’s been long enough that that’s fun. It’s pretty buggy, I don’t know what Bethesda’s freaking problem is. But no bug was game ending, so I guess that’s enough. The world is huge, I put in 55 hours and I didn’t even visit every location, maybe.. 2/3 of them? Certainly didn’t do all the quests. I guess I was ready to be done by the end, but I liked it. I was an NCR guy all the way through, then all of a sudden decided I didn’t trust anyone else to run the Strip. That was kind of fun. Pretty cool over all. Only downside is I’m in no mood to play Skyrim, which finally went on sale on Steam. I’ll have to wait a couple weeks I guess.

Bioshock: Infinite – So, this game is good, but I don’t quite get the game-of-the-year caliber love. It was a pretty slow start, to be honest, I had trouble getting in to the game. I like the bioshock games. I know people love the world-building in the first one. And it was extremely impressive to be sure. But Rapture never wrapped me up like it did a lot of people, it was cool, but didn’t blow my mind. This is kind of the same, except with out some of the awe and novelty of the first one. The game play is much like it ever was, which is to say much like System Shock ever was. The powers are different than before, and some are kind of interesting. I think I’m getting noticeably worse at FPSs, by the way. I’ve never been great, but I could keep up in TF2, usually near the top of a random sampling of players, but not able to compete with anyone who played regularly. But now, I feel slower, with worse aim and worse, I don’t know, situational awareness? Not surprising, I don’t play games nearly as much and they aren’t often FPSs, but still kind of sad. Anyway, the game picks up part way through, by the end I was in to the story, the ending is actually pretty good. Overall, an above average, but not truly outstanding game.

Red Faction: Armageddon – This game is pretty fun. I don’t think anyone thinks it’s amazing, red faction has always been about destroying stuff and this lets you do that. I don’t know how many times you have to tear apart a building piece by piece until it’s not fun, but I didn’t get to that number. The story is just whatever, you are kind of an anti hero who has to defend a bunch of people, many of whom are dicks, from aliens or monsters. But there’s some cool guns and a big mech and a smashy hammer. Fun stuff.

PixelJunk Shooter – I never got around to this one on PS3, wasn’t worth $15 to me I guess. I never played Racers or Monsters, I think, but I did like Eden quite a bit. This one is fun. It’s kind of a more actioney Where’s My Water, which is funny. It’s pretty easy, there’s never really anywhere that is particularly challenging, but that’s okay for a cheap fun game. Good way to spend a few hours.