Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some Movies

So, I've finally gotten around to seeing two of the year's highest-rated films, and I'd like to share some thoughts on them because I can.

Iron Man
Not too much to say here.  It was a bit light on action, but I guess they just had to get the origin story out of the way, and from that perspective it works.  Even so, I kind of wish there were more than two fight scenes in the entire movie.  Also, I can't quite work out why they saved the song Iron Man for the end credits.  There were so many places where it would've been awesome and fitting, but they wait until the very end.  That's kind of dumb.

Everybody should see this movie.
No, really.
Okay, I don't like to talk about myself, but there are some things you should know to help you understand exactly how good this film is.
I'm a huge fan of Rifftrax and Screenwipe.  I read The Comics Curmudgeon frequently.  I watch Zero Punctuation and the Nostalgia Critic religiously.  TVTropes is my favorite website.  In other words, I fall really, really well into the 'cynical bastard who hates everything' accentuate-the-negative archetype.  It's important for you to understand this so you know just how out of character this statement is.
This romantic children's film about robots who fall in love had me on the verge of tears for a good half an hour after it was over.
Any film that can pull that off is a goddamn masterpiece.

And, a bonus non-review:
I haven't seen this movie.  Even so, there are two statements I can make that don't need any qualifications whatsoever.
1. The Dark Knight was a better Gothic drama.
  Well, duh.
2. Wall-E was a better love story.  I'd say that it's sad when your vampire romance (and god DAMN that's a stupid genre) can't even be as good a love story as an animated movie about a trash compactor who falls for a floating egg, but when that movie is Wall-E you honestly don't stand a chance.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Everyday Shooter Review

Genre: Top-down arena shooter
System: PC (Steam), PS3 (PSN)
Price: $10

Everyday Shooter is an album of games exploring the expressive power of abstract shooters. Dissolute sounds of destruction are replaced with guitar riffs harmonizing over an all-guitar soundtrack, while modulating shapes celebrate the flowing beauty of geometry.

-From the official site (also contains download links and a trailer

Judging from the above, you might write off this game as some kind of pretentious 'games are art' faffery, but you shouldn't because that would be stupid and you'd miss out on a fantastic game.Everyday Shooter

Everyday Shooter is a top-down dual analog left-to-move-right-to-shoot arena shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars. However, it separates itself from the standard 'me too' copy of the above by throwing in several important changes to the formula.

The first of these is that the game consists of levels instead of one big point-gathering arcade-style endeavor. This may not seem to big or innovative a change, but it does open up the way to the other major gameplay change: chaining systems.

Everyday Shooter

The phrase 'chaining system' is basically the game's way of saying "These levels play differently." And they do play differently. Each level requires a different approach to scoring and surviving ('scoring and surviving'... mirrors life, that does), and while the differences aren't always so major, by the last level you're basically playing a completely different arena shooter.

As an example, the first level starts out like your standard shooter; your move your little dot around the screen and shoot enemies which drop points for you to collect. But then, a little ways in, a different sort of enemy floats by. You shoot it, and it creates a circular field that kills enemies on contact. Shoot the field, and it grows bigger and lasts longer. Strategic usage of this can net you some serious points.

Then, the second level changes it up; instead, you get a big foe that's connected to a bunch of little ones. Kill the big one, and all the other enemies die, giving you a few seconds to collect the spoils before the next wave comes in. The levels keep changing things around on you, and it's fun to try to figure out how to pull it off in each level.Everyday Shooter

Another feature of note is the game's unlockables; scoring points in the main game gets you 'unlock points' which can be used to purchase a number of things; extra starting lives (you'll need them), graphical effects, "single play" levels (you purchase a level, and then you can choose to play it separately from the main game), and a shuffle mode which changes the levels' order.

However, the real crux of this game is the music. Everything in this game makes a guitar sound, from menu selections to killing enemies to player deaths, and it's all fantastic. The levels all have some really nice original compositions behind them, and the various sound effects compliment it really well.

Of course, every game has its flaws; for one thing, it's rather difficult (or maybe I just suck) and the tutorial dialogs that show up on the first level you play every time are annoying and can't be turned off. The music also isn't for everyone; if you don't like guitars and lots of 'em, this isn't the game for you.

A simple top-down shooter with a lot of variety. 9.5/10
Presentation: Minimalistic, but rather effective. 7.5/10
I love it, but it's not for everyone. 9/10
Score (not an average): 8.5/10
Final Thoughts:
This is a fun little shooter, and it's only $10. Go get it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mini-review: The Dark Knight

You should all see this movie. Unless you are a small child who will be traumatized by people getting their faces burnt off and small children much like yourself being held at gunpoint. Then you shouldn't see this movie. Other than that, you should.
I really, really liked this movie. It works on multiple levels, and I think that's what makes it so great- you don't need to appreciate the psychological edge to it in order to enjoy what happens. But it sure as hell helps. Because the psychological edge is what makes Batman, Batman. It's what Schumacher never did get (or, at least, apply to the films) and what Burton most certainly did.
I think this is my favorite incarnation of the Joker. It's a different character from his other portrayals, that's for sure. He's less of a 'trickster' than before, but the ratcheted the 'violent sociopath' way up. And I think that makes it, in a bizzare, twisted kind of way, more compelling. At the very least, it allows the filmmakers to explore the very concept of a man with no morality, no guilt, a man who just enjoys watching the world burn. And I think that they really understood what they were working with, and that's why it works so well.
Anyway, awesome movie and you owe it to yourself to see it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mediocre Storytelling Theatre

Hi all none of you out there. I'm here to inform the nonexistant masses of a new blog I've set up on Wordpress called Mediocre Storytelling Theater. Basically, the idea is to showcase MSTs and recaps of the worst of the worst. Right now I've got some Gonterman crap, and I've got another (long) comic I'm going to start doing soon, but that's it for now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mediocre Storytelling: The Blog

I set up a blog over on Wordpress with the intent of highlighting some of the worst examples of every kind of media there is. It's on Wordpress to separate me personally from the project. Right now I've only got a Gonterman comic, but more will come later.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On the Reality of Perspective

Ah, yes. The eternal struggle of perspective, the battle of idealism versus cynicism, the half (Full? Empty? Empty? Full? Empty? Full? Full? Empty? Empty? Full? Full? Empty? Full? Empty? Empty? Full?) glass. Optimism vs. Pessimism.
I like to think of myself coming between the two. I consider myself a cynic (when we're talking about the sliding scale of idealism vs. cynicism, I come in very strongly on the latter with some more idealistic points... oh, just read on, I'll explain it), and I like to think of it as the in-between of optimism and pessimism, albeit with some leaning. I'm not optimistic, but I'm not pessimistic to the point of being unreal about it. I judge things based upon their value; if logic dictates that something should work, I assume it will (but prepare for it to not; even though I know it will probably work, I steel myself up for it to not- that way, if it doesn't work I won't be dissapointed, but if it does I get to be pleasantly surprised), and the same applies for something that shouldn't.

So, there's that. What of idealism and cynicism, then? Well, I have a good deal of contempt for the doe-eyed kind of idealism, the 'if only we could all work together' kind of thing. Well, yes, if we all got along, there would be no fighting. But that's irrelevant because people will never get along like that. You can't get rid of prejudice or hate, you can only beat it back for a bit. Here's the thing, though, where some idealism shines through in my beliefs: Just because you can't stop it doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Yes, there will always be racists, but that doesn't mean you should just let the KKK be. Yes, there will always be war, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't advocate pacifism. People will always have misunderstandings and fights, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't at least try to be diplomatic. That is where I hold idealism: In the belief that if something is bad, you should try to do something about it even though you can't really eliminate it.
Now, on another note, what I hold in even more contempt then the 'getting together' thing is the darker, more sinister kind- the "If everything was the way I want it to be, the world would be perfect." The idealism of hate, as it were. Now, this is kind of an odd concept, is it not? "There's nothing idealistic about hate!" But... is there?
Let us all accept that idealism is the belief that the world is a generally good place. My point does not shine through here, so let us carry it along a bit. Let us say that you believe the world is a generally good place. Now, unless you're a delusional nutjob, you know that bad things happen, because that's not really something that can be denied. So, the idealist I speak of now, the hateful idealist- not all idealistic people, mind you- believes that all that's wrong with the otherwise good world comes from people being different. You see? I'm speaking not of people who think that the world is a generally good place, I'm speaking of people who think that the world is a generally good place aside from what they hate. I think you see the danger in idealism I'm attempting to portray. Now, obviously, there are cons to cynicism, and done improperly cynicism can lead to atrocities, too. That's something I could figure out but don't really want to right now; I'll get back to that some other time.
Now, cynicism: Cynicism in current understanding (let's not get into ancient Greek philosophies) is the belief that people don't act out of virtue. I hold this as a general principle; I don't assume that people do things because it's the right thing. Sometimes they do, yeah, but it's a general principle. For every tale of a man saving a drowning child (I can even justify that as a mere survival instinct- it's natural to save other humans from dying so the species doesn't die off. Now, here's an interesting topic- when people don't help others. Here it comes down to people being self-centered- the effect of being in a rush, due to society's constant nagging about being on time, and the effect of believing something someone else can handle it. In the man-saves-child story I just made up, there are some factors that explain this away- first off, there was presumably nobody else there/ trying to do something, and also the fact that it's a child. People have a tendency to be kinder/more sympathetic towards children. I guess 'cuz they're cute.), I can give you somebody killing off people they think are stains on society (idealism run amok, see above) or somebody not pausing to help someone because they're in a rush (lack of virtuous action) or a madman getting popular support for his insane ideas (people can be easily manipulated, I'm sure we can all agree that's a rather cynical concept). However, I also hold another concept that stems from this- that the virtuous thing is not always the right thing. The right thing is the logical thing, the choice that has the highest probability of doing the best thing for the largest amount of people.
To illustrate this, let me give you a scenario: You're Biff Bukinshins, fantasy hero extraordinare (sp? Doesn't seem to be in the dictionary...). Why? Because fantasy/sci fi is where this kind of illogical idealism seems to occur the most. Anyway, your lovely female companion has been kidnapped by the evil something-or-other and you can either save her or prevent the evil army from raping and pillaging several highly populated towns. Now, what's the logical thing? Clearly, the second one. But you can't just leave her! That'd be callous. So, you save her. And then you have enough time to stop the evil army, too. Now, this is all well and good in fantasy, but real life doesn't work like that. In real life, the best thing to do is to put stopping thousands from being slaughtered above saving your girlfriend. Yet, authors seem to have this crazy idea that you should save her. In fact, many believe this so much that if someone suggests they do the thing that actually makes sense, they're portrayed as a callous monster, or at least an unfeeling Vulcan. What's up with that? Sewioushly. Anyway, that's what I mean when I say that the virtuous thing is not always the right thing.
So, what am I getting at with this? Well, basically, I wanted to explain my ideals so people can have a better idea of where I"m coming from and because I think there's a great deal of discussion to be had on the topic, although that's kind of stupid of me because nobody reads this.

Currently listening to: Radiohead/Pablo Honey/Creep

Monday, May 26, 2008

Yew insulted mah mooziks!

I've noticed that I tend to get... well, really, way too upset when people insult my music. And by 'way too upset,' I mean upset at all. I've always felt that the only legitimate musical criticism is that music is too bland, too sterile, to middle-of-the-road to hold any kind of real feeling or meaning, because everything else comes down to personal taste. Even so, people saying that a bad I enjoy is bad kind of puts me off. It's stupid, I know, but that's how it is.
Anyway, I hate to make posts about myself, so I'm going to look at this phenomenon at large.
I've noticed that this happens with most everything- movies, video games, etc... And that's how we get console wars. People who write off another system's killer app without playing it just because it's on that other system, you know? They're morons.
I can't think of anything else to say, honestly... so, uh, yeah: people get upset when you insult the things they like.