Chronicle

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I apologize to everyone reading! Eventually I want to start posting on a regular schedule, but this year that just won’t be possible (getting my M.A. and all… it’s a little busy!). Anyway, let’s get to the matter at hand…

I went to see the movie Chronicle tonight. It was awesome.

So for those of you who don’t know, it’s a movie about teenagers who develop telekinesis (aka superpowers). Sounds familiar, right? Three boys in high school discover that they can do things with their minds, and it’s silly pranks and tomfoolery (okay, maybe I just wanted to get the word “tomfoolery” into a post) until… well, until it’s not. While it is essentially a superhero-type story without any major surprises, I think it is an excellent new take on an old narrative. And it was dark, which I tend to like.

I’ll try not to be TOO spoiler-ee, but I can’t promise anything.

The film felt very realistic. Usually superheroes get their powers and immediately feel a sense of obligation to the greater good. In Chronicle, they just fooled around for awhile until things started to go awry (more on that later). Although, I did think that for teenage boys they were a little too restrained with their new powers – they would definitely use them to get money and women, let’s be serious. Or at least peek into the girls’ locker room.

Also, when shit did start to get real, the civilians weren’t like “Oh, cool, there are people with superpowers. Now *insert random superhero* will save the day all the time but remain mysteriously anonymous. Alrighty. Whatevs.”. It was more “HOLY FUCK, WHAT IS GOING ON?”

Normally, I would say that the found-footage/homemade video thing is cliché and has outlived its usefulness, but Chronicle does a good job with this particular film device. The camera is used by Andrew, who is bullied and a bit of a loner, as a barrier between him and the world (as the film points out rather unsubtly through dialogue). I think it began as a barrier for him, then slowly morphed into an expression of his increasingly narcissistic and self-centered world view. The camera stops pointing out at the world as a mediation between it and Andrew, and begins to be used to record Andrew’s thoughts, actions, and abilities. Instead of wanting to fade away like he did at the beginning of the movie, he comes to think that he is the only worthy subject for the camera. This marks a shift in his perspective, which we can see in the ways that he uses the camera. The found-footage aspect of the film makes the camera apparent as an important filmic device when the director wants us to notice it, and allows it to fade into the background when he wants us to forget about it.

Chronicle deals with some philosophical concepts of power and knowledge. It complicates the idea that good and evil are black and white, and makes you think about the effects of power. It is not simply that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but that power affects different personalities in different ways. Of course teens are going to be irresponsible with their powers.  And realistically, the kid who is bullied and abused is not going to be magically “fixed” with some superpowers. I thought Andrew was a sympathetic antihero, as I cringed and watched his descent into power. We get to see how he rationalizes his actions through evolution and the idea that he is the “apex predator”. We understand why he does the things he does, and that makes it even more scary. The most disturbing villain (a term used very loosely in relation to this film) is not the unfathomable super-human monster, but rather someone that we find ourselves sympathizing with and relating to. Because, of course, that means that there is potential for evil (again, used loosely) in each of us. I wish they had delved into this stuff just a little bit more, though.

One issue I have is when Andrew reached the height of his wrong-doing (trying not to give too many spoilers here, sorry!), that also happened to be the time after he was just disfigured from a fire. I think this raises the issue that deformed, disabled, disfigured, and “ugly” people in films and television tend to be portrayed as the villains (again – loosely). I found myself thinking, without THINKING, that Andrew looked more evil with his form disfigured the way that it was. Catching myself in this thought, I was disturbed. This film still reinscribes the classic idea that unattractive or deformed people are wicked, and that their true nature is written upon their physical form. I shouldn’t be thinking that he looks more evil when he has just undergone heavy burns. That is a horrible narrative archetype, and I am not happy to say that it was reproduced in this film, but it was.

Overall, I thought the acting was top-notch, the story was very engaging, and I loved the fresh take on the superhero plot. There were some very visceral moments in the movie when I was completely enraptured with what was going on. I found the characters (mostly) believable and likeable. The story and the tension build to a remarkable finish, and I was with it every step of the way.

And you know what? I’d totally go see a sequel.

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SWTOR Launcher Rage

Let me start by saying: I love the new Star Wars The Old Republic MMO. I’m still hoping to do some kind of a mini-review soon. However, I need to rant and potentially help others in this post.

Basically, since the Rise of the Rakghouls patch came out for TOR I was unable to play. My computer was just not downloading the patch properly. It kept freezing, restarting, asking me to click on the “repair” function which ultimately did nothing. Other people I knew were not having any problems. For some reason though, mine just would not work.

Eventually I tweeted SWTOR, telling them I was having issues. They sent me the link to some troubleshooting steps they had posted in the forum. … These did not help me. Frustration growing, as it had now been several days that I was unable to log on, I kept searching for solutions.

Eventually I happened upon this blog post: http://east-of-nowhere.com/2012/01/problem-with-the-swtor-launcher-how-to-fix-patching-problem/

Computer + Epic = TOO Godly???

In this post, the author mentions that this patching problem only seems to happen to high-end computers – which is what I have. My reaction: Are you shitting me? WHY?! Why would that even be a thing? My computer is TOO good? Whaaaa?

Solution #4 ended up being the only thing that would work for me (they did say it has worked 100% of the time!). I was just lucky that I have both an older laptop to download the game onto, and a huge external hard drive.

But really – I am not impressed with this debacle. So while this post was partially serving as an outlet for my need to rant, it also was so that I could provide the link to the blog post that helped me out. I wouldn’t have figured that out on my own, so thanks, East of Nowhere!

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Skyward Sword

You can't tell, but Link (aka me) is wearing white fishnets ... that's accurate, right?

Here, as promised and without further delay, is my review for Skyward Sword! Oh, and there may be some spoilers in here. Obviously.

The Good
I want to start off by saying I loved this game, it was genuinely fun and awesome. A friend of mine described it as being like seeing your high school sweetheart again after 6 years and realizing that, in all that time, she is still the most beautiful. Now, I never had a high school sweetheart, so I can’t say whether that’s true or not. But I can say that this new Zelda is damn excellent.

While the nostalgia factor is certainly present – I’ve adored the Legend of Zelda for as long as I can remember, playing A Link to the Past as a small child – I will try to be fair in this review. That said, one of the things I LOVED about this game was the throwbacks to all the old Zelda games. Zelda is encased in a crystal at one point, just like in LttP. The bobkins play a tune to call more bobkins, and if you listen carefully, it’s the beginning of the flute melody from LttP. The Temple of Time gets involved, bringing back Ocarina of Time memories. Impa makes an appearance, and Zelda’s father is named Gaepora and looks suspiciously like a certain owl that we all know. Oh, and remember that creepy hand in the toilet in Majora’s Mask? Yepp, that’s back too! I liked that the game had treats like these for its long time fans.

And while the game certainly remembered its roots, it didn’t let itself become stale by fearing to stray from tradition, either. Awesome new features and items abound, such as Link’s new stamina gauge, the Beetle (controlled by your Wiimote, it flies around and is badass), and your very own bird to ride. And a pirate ship in a sand desert (not entirely a new idea), which was a really fun temple to do… except the boss which was, in my opinion, the hardest boss in the game. Damn tentacles (NO, not like *that*… get your mind out of the gutter)!

I enjoyed the combat, the Wiimote with the MotionPlus is much better than the old Wiimote. The game is good at moving Link’s sword along with your Wiimote motions, which makes battles pretty exciting. A lot of the enemies will have specific slashes needed to defeat them, and some will try to block you. One of the recurring bosses needs to be faked out with the sword, which is actually kind of tough until you get the hang of it. And then there’s my problem, where I get more and more frantic the harder the fight is, until I’m just flailing wildly with the Wiimote. This, of course, is not a very good strategy and I would not recommend it. You tend to get electrocuted.

Finally, I’d just like to give a nod to the music in the game. Fully orchestrated and beautiful as always. I also got the Zelda orchestra CD that comes with the Collector’s Edition of the game (not to mention a fancy Zelda Wiimote :D), and that is also quite excellent.

The Not-So-Good
While I loved the game, there were several things that I wasn’t super pleased with. Firstly, the harp. All of the noises in the game were played by the harp (favourites such as “You Got the Thing” and the You Did Something Right noise), and I honestly was not really liking it. And playing Link’s harp wasn’t really very fun either, you basically just swing the Wiimote back and forth for awhile. Essentially, ocarina > harp.

Although there wasn’t a Water Temple that was long and tedious, there was a “collect the music notes” quest in the water. You swim around using the Wiimote, trying to collect all of these individual music notes that are hiding in the water and that dance away from you sometimes. I did not like this. I’ve never been good at swimming levels in games, and I’m really rather unobservant and horrible at looking for stuff (I can rarely even find the ketchup in my fridge), so this posed a challenge for me. And not in a fun way.

I found Fi (Skyward Sword’s version of Navi) to be rather infuriating. At first she was  kind of amusing, with her statistics of probability and all. And then she started telling me the most obvious things. If you have ever played a Zelda game in your life, or have any sort of logic at all, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where to go next in this game. But Fi likes to beat you over the head with it. She’s also unbelievably creepy when she sings. This is because the creators didn’t bother to animate her mouth properly, so she just opens and closes it like some sort of demon-puppet. Give me Midna any day. At least she was open about being a demon, and had a personality.

Fucking Epic

The final issue I had with this game is that I didn’t find the final boss hard enough. He was kind of difficult, I did die once while fighting him … but I was expecting just a bit more. More forms or more different attacks, or something! Once I stopped panicking and flinging my sword at him in hopes that this was the winning strategy, he wasn’t too hard to defeat. That said, he did look pretty Fucking Epic.

The Unexpected
***SPOILER ALERT***
Okay so, you know how while you’re playing a game (or watching a movie, or TV, or whatever), you try to figure out how the story is going to end before it does? So I had this grand theory laid out. Skyward Sword starts off with this big guy, Groose, bullying you and wanting Zelda for himself. He comes down to the surface with you, and then starts to reform his bullying ways so that you gain some sympathy for him. He has red hair, a large build, and his name starts with G. Who else do we know that has RED HAIR, a LARGE BUILD, and whose NAME STARTS WITH G?! Oh wait, I know, GANONDORF! Since this was the origin story, it seemed like a good plot point for Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf to have known each other from the beginning. But Groose was turning into a likeable character, and it would be lame for Gannondorf to have just been a schoolyard bully anyway. So I devised an intricate plot wherein the spirit of the demon lord (Demise, featured above in all of his Fucking Epicness) melded with Groose accidentally, as Groose made a heartstring-pulling gesture of selflessness to save Link and Zelda from death. The evil takes hold of Groose, and this is why Ganondorf looks like Groose but is so much more evil, and also why he is after Zelda all the time. That would have made sense! And been great!

But I was wrong. That doesn’t happen. Groose just chills out, and Demise promises the following to Link: An incarnation of my hatred shall ever follow your kind, dooming them to wander a blood-soaked sea of darkness for all time!

I think that quote contributes to the Fucking Epic previously discussed. I need to start threatening people with that…

Fun Links about Zelda (which you’ve likely already seen)
VG Cats – Dead & Loving It: http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=74
College Humor – The Legend of Link’s Distractions: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/5717300/the-legend-of-links-distractions
Brentalfloss – Zelda with Lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_3hE8TOVxU


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Merry Christmas … and Skyrim!

So this is my inaugural blog post, I’m rather excited to be here. Firstly, I wish a Merry Christmas (and/or Happy Holidays!) to all of you out there in the ‘verse.

I hardly know where to begin, mostly because of the amazing influx of fantastic video games in the past few months. I have been trying to balance life, both professional and social, with Skyrim, Skyward Sword, and just recently, the new Star Wars The Old Republic MMO. How is a girl to survive? (Hint: The answer is, by not leaving her basement apartment.)

I’m sure you’ve all be playing at least one of these, and if you haven’t, then get on it! However, I’ll give a quick review, starting with Skyrim today (and the others to follow soon).

But first! May your Christmas be epic. (http://www.dorkly.com/picture/29292/skyrim-christmas-tree-topper)

Skyrim Christmas

Skyrim
This Elder Scrolls game is the latest of its kind by Bethesda, following Morrowind and Oblivion.  I have to admit, I never played Oblivion. But I did play Morrowind, and it was all-encompassing, with its huge world and nearly unlimited possibilities. Except in Morrowind, I had tried so hard to get into the Mage’s guild, only to be foiled by a weird little imp, and a glitch that wouldn’t let me attack it to complete my quest. Distraught, I remember climbing a mountain in search of better prey. Unfortunately for me, there were massive attack birds all over the mountain who repeatedly gutted me and feasted upon my tender flesh. Fed up with that idea, I went back to a previous save … which I had saved WHILE ON THE MOUNTAIN OF DEATH BIRDS. And thus ended my experience of Morrowind, as I had sunk so many hours into a game only to be trapped on a mountain.

Being no longer 13, and hopefully just a little less stupid, my experience with Skyrim was much more fruitful. As I went about exploring the vast realm of Skyrim, I blazed trails along snowy mountaintops, dealt with both friendly and mildly rude Nords (I was a Redguard, which they didn’t seem thrilled with…), killed VERY rude Thalmor, and battled majestic dragons. The so-called “real world” melted away. I literally felt a chill when I was in a Skyrim snowstorm, and had to grab a sweater. One day I looked into the night sky and  found myself gazing at a beautiful aurora borealis … which looked awesome on my top-notch computer graphics. Finally, in dire need of food, I ventured out of my basement dwelling and looked down at my hands only to wonder why they didn’t have little balls of magicka swirling within them. Skyrim was my home now.

My point with all of this is, I loved it. Skyrim is an incredibly immersive game, with fantastic graphics, and game mechanics that can be picked up with ease. While the game is not easy, it is not needlessly difficult either. You may die several times fighting dragons or old Dwemer machines, but you’ll certainly feel badass when you kill them. And you know, going around defeating dragons and absorbing their souls like it’s no big deal. I’ve been at this game for countless hours, and I still feel like there is so much more to discover and see and do and (most importantly) kill!

So there you have it, my two cents on Skyrim.

Oh, and a few confessions as well. I had a dog in Skyrim, he was called Meeko and I love him. I saved him from the deserted shack of his former master. He was happy and joyful, and helped me in my battles. I was so excited, it was just like having a Mabari wardog in Dragon Age. And then… I’m ashamed to admit, I let poor Meeko die. It was a busy battle, my wits were scattered, and by the time it was over, Meeko was dead at my feet. Also, I punched a goat to death and lit a bunny on fire, just for fun. But let’s face it, the bunny hopped right across my path – he was clearly asking for it.

And what would a Skyrim post be without something about taking an ***** to the ****? You know what I’m talking about. Here’s some dubstep. Just trust me. http://soundcloud.com/ramesesb/rameses-b-skyrim-in-the-knee

What were your experiences of Skyrim? And just so you know, every time you don’t post a comment below, a baby zombie is born.

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