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.