Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Just saw this via Netflix. This movie could have been so much more. I loved the idea of it – the ultra rich have left the planet and live on an idyllic space station while Earth is a cesspool of poverty and violence. I loved District 9 (a film by the same director), and if you haven’t seen District 9, I highly recommend that you do. Perhaps that’s my trouble. The director, Neil Blomkamp, set the bar so high with District 9 that my expectations skyrocketed for this film. My main trouble with Elysium is the portrayal of Earth as a hell hole. It just wasn’t bad enough in my eyes. Yes, there’s poverty. Yes, there’s police brutality. Yes, the system is unfair and broken in this film. But little things bothered me. Why does Matt Damon’s character look so healthy if he’s living in a third world slum? Why does he have running water in his home (that looked pretty clear) if things are really so bad here? He even has some access to health care. Maybe Damon is meant to be portrayed as one of the relatively lucky ones amid a sea of even less fortunates. But I didn’t get that vibe throughout the movie. The concept is great, but what is missing are compelling characters and a coherent story. Telling us that Max (Damon’s character) has longed to live on Ellysium his whole life is less effective development to my mind than effectively portraying how truly awful life on earth is. Could have been a good film. I think Blomkamp was befuddled by his own big budget on this one. I know District 9 was made on a relative shoestring. Not a great film, but not a horrifically bad one, either.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Finished my second play through of Mage Wars on Saturday. I love this freaking game. I find it hard to believe that Wizards of the Coast never came up with the idea for selling ‘spell books’ – books with four plastic sleeves a page for conveniently storing your cards and thumbing through them. Mage Wars had me right there when I read about this concept. But the spell books are only the beginning…. I played the Beastmaster mage and my wife played the Priestess (because she had a unicorn). I’d looked over the cards ahead of time and figured I was in trouble before the first spell was cast. (We played apprentice rules – a simplified version of the game with fewer spells, half the game board, and the special abilities of mages are not used.) Somehow she managed to hold off Cervere (think Guenhwyvar from the Drizzt books), a Steelclaw Grizzly (who attacked with 11 dice one round with Bear strength enchantment and a two dice bonus from the Beastmaster’s staff – to put this in perspective, most average cards roll 4 dice for an attack) and a timber wolf with just the royal archer and a Westlock knight. I got her down to within 4 hits of dying, but she wouldn’t go down. Then she summoned the bloody unicorn that grants regeneration 1 to all friendly creatures in the zone, cast a bunch of healing spells, and started picking off my creatures one by one. In the end it wasn’t even close. She was back up to full health and the Beastmaster was a bloody mess – full of arrows and singed from more than one blast of pure light. Some things I learned from the fight: - Don’t stand around toe to toe with the priestess in a zone that grants Aegis (takes away attack dice) - Don’t send a lone bobcat to harass the priestess and her royal archer. - Stunned mages can still case spells. Still my favorite game, even though I lost. Every spell has a counter (although not all mages may have that spell in their spell book.) I hear there’s a local gaming group in Madison that plays this. I may have to check them out, because my wife does not seem to share my love of Mage Wars.
Friday, April 4, 2014
The show has been growing on me. I'm not saying it's great television, but I'm compelled to keep watching it. I follow very few shows these days because: 1) I have a 2 year old on my hands who doesn't go to bed until 8pm, and 2) I don't have cable. What I follow I either watch over the internet or get disks via Netflix. I follow Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, the afformentioned Agents, and Brooklyn 99. I may get roped into Vikings since I've heard so many good things about it from multiple sources, but that's pretty much it. Oh, and Sleepy Hollow isn't too bad from the little I've watched of it. Agents of Shield has the tantalizing lure of the possibility that characters from the movies other than Colson's character could appear on the show. But they don't very often. So far we've had a cameo from Sif (Thor's scorned love interest) and Nick Fury. There's always hints about the goings on from the movie tie-ins, but rarely an actual appearance. I think for the show to really take off, Shield would need to step up and find a way to get the big names on the small screen, even if it's only for a moment. I think it would help interest in the movies and it would definitely help the series, giving it more of a sense of connectivity to a broader universe of heroes. I have no idea if it would be economically feasible, but if they could afford to get Samuel Jackson on, they could probably afford Helmsworth or Evans, right? I've heard other people complain that the Marvel title shouldn't even be attached to this series due to the paucity of named heroes attached to it. I think the producers listened when they put in an appearance from Sif. It's a small step, but a positive one. Not to mention that the interplay between the main characters has improved and I might actually care what happens to Ming Na in the series. Still not much caring about Colson or Sky. This is a series Joss Whedon attached his name to as well, right? So a main character has to die in the first season - that's a given. Unless he's lost his nerve or the network won't allow him to operate that way. But if it happened right now, I can't say I'd be surprised or shocked, regardless of who it was. Make me care, Marvel! I'm rambling. And I need to eat lunch sometime. So I'd better bail.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Last week the wife and I went to sunny Florida, and came back just as pale as when we left. Every year around this time we gather with old high school friends to do nothing but play board games for 3 days straight. This year was another rousing success. My tastes vary from my Game Weekend friends, but I did manage to sneak in a game of Duel of Ages. I'd rather play Pathfinder, or Starcraft, or Battlestar Galactica, but sadly this will have to wait until I find new friends. Some highlights from the festivities were Glass Road, which had a really innovative dial for tracking resources (increasing some resources results in reducing others); Fleet, a game of sending out fishing boats to try to amass the most victory points; and Tzolkin, which has one of the most elaborate boards I've ever played on - resource gathering is done by placing workers on rotating gears, which all move in unison with the advancement of the Mayan calendar wheel. Great new games. Oh! And I really liked Hanabi, a card game where you try to develop the best fireworks display that you can all while not looking at your own cards and giving clues to everyone else what they hold in their hand. Of all of them, I think Hanabi is one I'd like to buy. It ended too quickly and I can't wait to plan for the next one.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
With the advent of the baby came the death of playing role playing games. But we still get in a night or two of board gaming each month. We're playing again Friday, and I'm hoping to get in a round of Duel of Ages II. Just bought it last week, haven't even pressed out the cardboard pieces yet, but I've read the rule book and numerous reviews and it looks like fun.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Hurm..... Just plagiarized Sting... and the Watchmen comic. I don't talk much. In real life or in my blog. This is owing to the fact that I don't believe anyone would be terribly interested in what I have to say. I know in the past I wasn't a terrible writer. I won prizes in college for the things I wrote (never more than $150), got published in minor things, wrote a story and submitted it to the New Yorker and got rejected. Last thing I ever submitted anywhere. Pretty ridiculous to think one can go from college wrting contests to the New Yorker in one step, but that's me in my youth for you. Now I'm older and rambling and not sure where I'm going with this post. Just started writing again recently. Decided my goal was just to write at this point rather than to write to try get published. Better to be a failed writer writing than a failed nothing sitting on his butt. Writing was my New Years resolution, of which I only started a few weeks ago. Let's add 'lazy' to the list of faults, along with self-deprecation and unreasonable ego. What the hay, I'm glad I'm attempting to write again, although it's very difficult to get interested in any of the ideas I've had of late. One of them was a story about a race of Aliens who can spread viruses through the air that are deadly to humans. I was going to call the story 'The Immune' until I saw that a story with the same name was published a few years ago. Wish I had a punchline here. So I'm writing even though I have little faith in being read, and I'm talking here with little faith of being heard. This is best, as amatuerish material should be ignored.