Transformers Dark of the Moon: A movie rant Saturday, Jul 2 2011 

I would like to start off with a positive and informative note.  Accordingly to my little knowledge and research on film making, a director is essentially the main person who oversees the tone, direction, pace, and artistic control of a film.  They basically have the final say on what goes on in the production of a film.  There are exceptions of course.  However, based on his own words and behind-the-scene footage, Michael Bay is a director who takes firm control and authority on his set.  He invests himself emotionally in his works.  In abstract and broad strokes, these are characteristics can certainly be to a director’s advantage and help make a great movie.

That being said, Michael Bay seems to take those characteristics to the negative end of the spectrum.  I have read that Michael Bay did not want to make the movie for 2011, but rather 2012.  And it kinda shows.  Not that it was underdeveloped or that it could have used more time or anything like that.  What I mean is that his contempt (for being pressured into making this movie for a time less of his choosing) clearly shows with moments tailor-made to purge the movie of anything likeable; not enjoyable, but likeable.  Although with his embittered directing, I do appreciate the complete lack of sequel-baiting in this movie.  Without spoiling much, one would have to get fairly creative to actually make a sequel for this movie.

This movie also reveals to me that I think Michael Bay is a lazy writer.  To be fair, he did not actually write the script; writing credits go to Ehren Kruger.  However, most directors (and I can only assume Mr. Bay does the same) make the final approvals of the scripts.  In other words, if the script sucks and the director doesn’t have it fixed, then it is their burden to bear as well.  How does it suck?  Well, it seems apparent that significant plot devices (let’s simply call them McGuffins for short, because they have that much meaning to Mr. Bay) from previous movies in the franchise have less meaning/importance in the following movies.  If anything, they have barely a passing purpose in the following movies.  Not sure what I mean, here are the examples:

-The first movie, the hunt is for the Cube (All-Spark).  It is what drives the plot forward.  In the second movie, what is left of it is used to bring characters back and make Shia LeBouf’s character “important” to the movie.
-In the second movie, the Matrix of Leadership is what the Autobots are searching for as it will help them in the end; which it does.  In this movie, it is relegated to bringing a character back from the dead (witnessing the start of a pattern here?) and not much else.  Its meaning and importance almost completely superfluous to the rest of the movie.

To me, this shows that the writers are clearly just making things work as they come, and not as effectively as others can.  What it shows about Michael is that he doesn’t understand how to make the material better than presented or that he didn’t even bother reading the script until it came to shooting.  I really want to point out a couple points of Bay’s incompetence by saying: he fails at science forever!  In the third act of the movie, BUILDINGS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!!  He is trying to make cool action sequences, but they do not bend at those angles unless they are designed to; and those buildings weren’t!
Yes, people can glide in those body suits, but nowhere near the accuracy or lift to which those troops were going at it.  Also, even gliding in those suits and getting tremendous speeds and distance with them, they are constantly falling; they do not fly *period*.
On a subtler and less angry note, Chernobyl is mentioned in the movie and was mentioned to be completely uninhabitable for 20,000 years.  To my limited knowledge and research on the matter, this is, in fact, incorrect.  Chernobyl is actually habitable with only some concern for radiation (namely if the protective measures fail), but background radiation (the concern cited in the movie) is not a factor.  I am not upset about this, because I can’t really back it up as much as I would prefer.

After the firing of Megan Fox from the movie (bloody good thing too), I had some theories as to why exactly Michael Bay hires certain nubile, physically attractive, and unknown actresses as leading roles in these movies.  I won’t state them here simply because I will not stake what credibility I have on making any potentially wildly libelous comments.  You can draw your own conclusions at home though ^_^
On the topic of women in media, the old school stories usually weren’t too kind to women.  They tended to be objects sought after, cruel manipulators, and otherwise worthless without men.  Not only do I feel that all of those apply in Bay’s movie, but also that he actually demeans male as well.  Sam, I feel, seems worthless and adrift without a girlfriend; like his life has no value if he can’t “pick up chicks.”  Sorry, but every person can be an island.  No one needs each other intrinsically.  We want each other, but do not need;  there is a HUGE difference.

On the topic of characters, why, oh why, do we need to have so many broadly written caricatures?  Why are some of these characters so blatantly one-note?  Can no one have definition beyond annoying f*&^%-tard?  Also, why are some characters even in the movie to begin with?  There are so many superfluous characters it is aggravating.  I do not get emotionally invested in some of these part-time and non-dimensional characters who contribute nothing to the story or the overall plot; they are there, because they were paid to be there.

I may not have walked out on it, but I got out as soon as I knew that I could without missing any additional footage.  I paid only $4 for this movie and I still feel like I paid too much.  My only solace: that I spent just as much supporting my favorite theater.


Your Highness: A Movie Rave Saturday, Apr 9 2011 

First and foremost, I understand that this movie was critically panned.  Many critics found the movie to be crude, vulgar, and failing on almost every level.  They hated the story, the characters, the jokes, and . . . well, everything.

It is my suspicion that few of these critics have ever been to a typical DnD night.

To clarify, no, not every game-night need be chalked full of jokes and quips of horrendous taste and humor.  Most of the time with many groups, swearing will only come up when bad dice results occur.  Since I am trying to illuminate the less-than-initiated about the benefits of gaming, it does not bode well for my talking points when I compare nights of DnD to a movie being considered the worst movie ever made.  With that out of the way . . .

For all my opinion matters, I thought this movie was hilarious!  Yes, the jokes were pretty bloody vulgar, filthy, and disgusting, the plot was fairly insipid and predictable, and the characters were basically caricatures.  Without deliberately trying to draw favorable comparisons, Shakespearean plays of old had their fill of humor strictly for the groundlings and yet those scenes are not ignored or looked down upon.  My point is that a little tasteless juvenile humor can be accomodating.

Rather than imagine a lack of effort in part of the writing, I envisioned the writers (most likely enjoying some questionable substances), playing a role-playing game, and recording their own dialogue and exposition.  The creativity in some of the sequences and the cliched plot do reek of classical role-playing campaigns.  Interjected into those “serious” story elements are the conversations of the players rather than the characters.  As an example, Franco’s Fabious reminds me of the always serius player who remains in character for as much as they can for the night’s session.  McBride’s Thadious, by contrast, is very much the “aloof” and bombastic player who, while irritating plenty of times, is still enjoyable to game with.

I would not recommend this movie for general viewing; the R-rating does help.  However, for DnD players (who enjoy moments of “low” humor) and other gamers, I do endorce watching this movie as you are the crowd that might actually appreciate the foulness of the subject without simply looking down at the movie.  To draw a deliberate comparison, it is like the movie The Gamers and its sequel; except for the part where it was all the collective imagination of the players.

Chester Cheetah is the DEVIL!! Monday, Jan 17 2011 

The title pretty much covers it: as of the latest wave ofadvertising for Cheetos, Chester Cheetah is campaigning to be this generation’s incarnation of the Devil.  Maybe the title doesn’t say that exactly, but you get the point.  Before I continue any further, I would like to clarify a few things:

1. I like Cheetos.  I am not trying to boycott them or discourage anyone from buying and enjoying Cheetos.
2. I am NOT an overly devout individual (i.e. religious nut) who proclaims the devil’s influence in works of fiction, media, or other sources to which I find questionable/objectionable.
3. I do enjoy these ads provided they don’t run everyday, every hour, every minute.  As with most things in life, moderation is the key.

So, I noticed a new wave of advertising for Chester Cheetah and Cheetos a while back.  Below is the first ad I saw of this new wave:

Holy $%^#!  Did you see that?  With but a look and a few words laced with suggestive tones, Chester Cheetah convinced this woman to partake in a banal and mundane, but no less evil act.  He encouraged this woman to give into her anger and spite someone just for her own sadistic satisfaction.  And then he vanishes, leaving her alone with the responsibility of ruining that woman’s clothes.

That might be incidental.  There is no definitive proof of his evil from that commercial alone.  But watch this:

My god!  He just convinced this woman to potentially suffocate that guy with Cheetos!  Ok, ok.  Yeah, he probably won’t die or anything, but still.  Now he is driving people to inflict possible physical harm on others!  And, and he is distracting the stewardess with a backrub; presumably so that she doesn’t see the one passenger shove Cheetos up the other passenger’s nose.

Again, pretty petty.  But watch this crazy $#@:

Flat out, there is no denying that Chester is doing something ^%%#% evil here.  He is siccing snack foods on LIVE humans, presumably wherein the Mighty Zingers will devour the people alive once cornered.  This is something truly horrible and horrific happening.

There are plenty more commercials like the ones above.  How about the time he colluded with a humble office worker to pointlessly deface another worker’s cubicle?  (Skip to 33 seconds):

There is no end to his evil!  Oh, but you may have seen his latest commercials.  The ones where he is seemingly nice.  He is just trying to throw you off; think of him as a misunderstood good trickster.  I will not be tempted by his lies!  I mean, look at him!  The aesthetic change gives him devil horns out of his hair and ears!  His eyes are totally shrouded by his sunglasses.  And he has the awesome devil goatee to top things off.  Ladies and gentlemen, this it the new face of the modern devil:

I Have Seen One of the Dumbest Things Ever . . . Friday, May 28 2010 

I should be explaining why I haven’t been particularly active lately.  I should even write up a schedule of future articles I intent to write for my blog to share; I really should.  Instead, I feel compelled to bring to your attention one of the single stupidest things I have ever seen in my life.
I just saw a commercial for Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time, the video game.  Because that begs the question, “why is that so stupid?”, please allow me to explain.  Prince of Persia is a video game (which I played many years ago) that has seen something of a revival (in my opinion anyways) over the last few years.  Of the titles for the game was Prince of Perisa: the Sands of Time.  Then, Jerry Bruckheimer got it in his head to make a movie based on this game.  Now, I won’t say this is a bad idea; I haven’t played the game, so I have no basis for saying that the story wouldn’t translate to screen that well of anything; and on the topic of the movie itself, I am somewhat ambiguous as to whether it will be any good on its own merits or not.  Anyways, back on topic, let me show you how this is dumb: this new game is based on a movie that is based on a video game.  It is nothing more than a blatant and shameless attempt to make more money, at best.  At worst, it might be an attempt to obfuscate the fact that the movie was based on a game in the first place!

You know what the really dumb thing is of course: people will buy this game.  Oh yeah; rather than buy a game, apparently good enough to be made into a movie, they will buy a shameless movie tie-in game.  I feel dumbfounded by the existance of this game; it absolutely confounds me.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Movie Rant Saturday, Feb 13 2010 

This morning (2/12/2010) I caught the first showing of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: the Lightning Thief at my favorite cinema.  Because its the early show, I paid $4.00; my drink and snacks cost more than twice that.  I feel ripped off; I want my $4.00 back, preferably out of director Chris Columbus’s pocket.  Why?  Because the movie was pretty bloody bad that’s why!  Compared to the book, it was deplorable and outright insulting to the audience’s intelligence; on its own, it was just suck.

I had seen the teaser trailers for this movie and didn’t think much of it.  In fact, at first, I thought it was a teaser for the Marvel movie Thor, which wouldn’t be coming out till next year at the earliest; I figured if that was the case, than maybe it was part of a far-reaching marketing campaign, but I digress.  I decided to read the book (not a mistake, as I will explain later) and was very hyped to see it.  After I saw trailers that included elements that were not from the book, I was hesitant but adamant to give this movie its fair shake.  I have been known by many of my friends to have an open-mind, and I take pride in that (one of the few things that I do pride myself on).  However, one can only have an open-mind for so long.

So what makes this movie bad?  That needs two sets of responses: how its bad compared to the book and how it is bad on its own.

First the snobbish comparison of the book.  By the way, I am going to avoid as many spoilers as inhumanly possible as the book is so damn good that I want everyone reading this to read the book.  Anyways, the movie did not get the characters right in their personalities or some of their capabilities; certain characters were artificially combined into other characters and done so without a meaningful purpose or in a well executed manner.  While I FULLY understand the need to cut material out when translating a book into a movie, some vital bits of exposition and explaination are taken right out; while minor elements are over exaggerated and played off as major plot points.  The journey the characters take goes from being a great and fully developed attempt at a classical heroic myth set to the modern world, the movie makes it into a teenage road trip to collect items; GOTTA CATCH’EM ALL!  As with cutting some material out, losing some characters make sense as you won’t have the time to adequately develop them or their purpose isn’t as necessary to the immediate story being presented.  At the same time, WHY ADD POINTLESS CHARACTERS/ENCOUNTERS IN?!  If you wanted to add material from future books, wait for those movies to be made or just hint at them; don’t frakking include them.  I’m not even sure if the director actually had anybody read the book!  I think I could go on until I have an aneurysm, so I will move onto the secondary set of reasons: its just bad by itself.

By itself, the movie is only actually marginally bad; its no Manos: the Hands of Fate.  I must admit, I did not sit through the whole movie; I was pretty disgusted by most of its execution that I left about maybe a half-hour before the movie ended.  The pacing of the movie was far too rushed.  I remember Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (another Chris Columbus film) having an excellent and easy pace to it; you could follow it along and you were gripped by the characters and story enough to patiently follow as the story unfolded.  That being said, this movie moved like it was outrunning a crazed horror movie-esque serial killer.  In the movie, one of the characters is diagnosed with ADHD; by the writing/acting of the movie, they didn’t have ADHD, the movie did!  Some of the movie’s logic was flawed and inconsistent.  Also, due to explanations, some things go unexplained that NEED EXPLAINATION!  (By the way, as I would prefer for you to vote “no” to this movie by not watching it, I don’t care about spoiling the movie for you.)  At the start of the movie, Poseidon, god of the seas, god of horses and earthquakes, comes walking out of the water as a frakking giant (easily 40 or 50 feet tall) and in plain view of at least a single fisherman; and the fisherman just sorta shrugs it off.  Where are the newspaper reports reading, ‘GIANTS WALK AMONG US!’ or whatever?  Where is the sheer mortal terror of seeing something that unbelievable?  Now, in the book, there is an explanation as to why nothing happens and I would accept that explanation in the movie, provided an explanation was given.  Given the importance the role Percy plays in the movie and how important it is that he recieves training for his mighty task (suspension of disbelief turned on, at this point), why was no one paying enough attention to make sure he recieves his almighty important training?!  He just sneaks off after a single night with his wants-to-be-Harry Potter’s lackeys-entourage without so much as a red alert, a single sentry horn being blown, or even a chubby kid who plays by the rules going, “you can’t go out past curfew.”  Oh, a great moment of dumb is when Percy asks why the gods won’t physically visit any of them.  The Hermione responds that it is the law as set down by Zeus, lord of the gods.  Percy’s response?  “Well, that’s stupid!”  Yeah, I agree; what a frigging cop-out.  There is pretty bloody good explanation given in the book; why it wasn’t used, I don’t know; I’m not a director.  Here’s a bit of bad design: the Underworld.  Yeah, they go to Hell, and it is only mildly annoying.  Things seem kinda bad and what drama they try to attribute to it, isn’t done very well; whereas in the book, you get a sense of I-do-not-want-to-be-here.  By the way, I would spoil the names of the characters in the movie to you if they were the characters from the book and not Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I think I have rambled/ranted about long enough.

Next time Mr. Columbus, read the book; not the Cliff Notes.

Update: Posting Schedule Change Tuesday, Feb 2 2010 

Greetings all.  Due to my constant tardiness when it comes to updating reviews and whatnot, I intend to once again change how often I update.  At this time, I will be trying to post reviews every two weeks on Mondays/Tuesdays.

As for explanations behind this, I would rather admit fault on my part and leave it at that.  However, for those whom desire something more in the ways of excuses, here are a few:
-working on my story/book
-I got burned out on posting weekly, but still retained interest to post
-computer monitor burned out (more or less literally) and so had to get a new one
-job hunting

See my next post up around the first week in February.

P.S. Somehow this never posted.  As such, the review is up already.

Recommended Reading Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

As mentioned, here is a list of reading that I would recommend for all manners of reasons.  This is not a comprehensive list as I tend to find new things that would make the list; and I just plain don’t remember everything that I would recommend in a single sitting.  Anyways, onto the list:

Vampire the Masquerade: Storyteller’s Guide-for any player or GM who wants to develop a stronger story for their games, this is great source.  While it tends to focus on the gothic punk style of the Vampire setting, and has some dark fixations in my opinion, it is a great read for how to add to a story with little details.  Another thing that the book does that I have not seen many others (RPG books) try to do is spell out that as it is your game, “DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH IT!”  You can ignore canon and craft your own history within the setting if you want; you can even ignore the rules and develop your own with the game, so long as you have fun and it fits your story.  The big lesson from this book, take ownership of the games you play: have fun and don’t be afraid to get involved with the game (to a healthy limit, of course).

Vampire the Masquerade: Player’s Handbook-again this book offers a great deal to story/character heavy games.  In this case, it helps the players more so than the GM in developing a better gaming experience within the game.  Confession time: I have not finished reading this book.  However, I am putting this book on the list prematurely because from what I have read, it is really good.  Namely, the section on the Lone Wolf is really good; it teaches players how to avoid creating a character who is two-dimensional and also equips GMs with techniques to help mitigate the presence of the Lone Wolf character and even help make the character more productive and conducive to the story than a simple undefeatable beat-stick.

Dungeons and Dragons: Hero Builder’s Guidebook-out of the Third Edition of DnD comes this FANTASTIC book.  It has no rules in it at all; ZERO!  So what is it, if not a collection of the latest and best new rules?  It is a guide that helps you develop a character from a series of pencil marks on paper.  There is a section on developing a background; another on picking a good name; a section on how to craft your character’s career as an adventurer.  One of my favorite little anecdotes within the book is about how to take a really badly rolled stat and turn it into a compelling angle for role-playing and character development; in essence, giving you ideas to spin unfortunate happenstances into something positive and interesting.

TV is a wiki-format site with many articles on tropes (basically cliches) that permeate throughout literature, movies, video games, you-name-it.  Which article would I recommend?  Any of them!  They are all interesting and written with just the right balance of glib/charm and informative.  They do police themselves just enough to avoid any particular bias; outside the fact that they are all geeks and nerds, and proud of it.  At the same time, they try to keep things informal and avoid excessive editing to avoid coming off as Wikipedia.

Will the apologies ever end? Sunday, Nov 22 2009 

Yes, it is time for me to apologize once more for delays in my updates.  This time is far more egregious than my last lapses.  As such, I am going to try and make it up to everyone as best as I can.

What to do?  What to do?  I know!  As a treat for some, I will include a short story of which I composed.  Something different for everyone and possibly giving all of you a glimpse into my creative thoughts.  I hope you enjoy.

In the meanwhile, I will start cranking out the reviews this week.  Thank you for your patience.

Apologies once more Wednesday, Oct 28 2009 

Yeah, I’m late on the posting the latest review due to reasons of work.  If it is any consolation, I will be putting up the review later today.  Thank you for your patience.

Further Apologies Unfurled and Posting Update Tuesday, Sep 8 2009 

As one may have noticed, I have neglected to post a new article last week and am yet again late this week on posting.  As per last time, I apologize; I am so sorry for my lateness.  However to make up for my tardiness, I intend to post not only last week’s blog up this week, but also post this week’s blog as well.  But that’s not all!  If I can manage it, I will also post up a bonus article this Friday.  Just to show everyone my current plan this week:

Tuesday 9/8: Taking a Closer Look: Miniature Games

Wednesday 9/9: Taking a Closer Look-Role: Playing Games

Friday 9/11: Player Expectations

Lastly, my updates from this point foward will be on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Again, sorry for my delays and thank you all for your understanding.

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