Favorite Book: Cryptonomicon
Favorite Movie: Young Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything: Monty Python
Afrika, the newly translated comic by the Belgian artist Hermann, is a lush story of obsession, set (unsurprisingly) in Africa. There poachers, governments, and nature herself come into conflict with one man.
Two years ago, the sequel to a promising action RPG was released to near universal acclaim. Mass Effect 2 solved most of the issues that plagued the first game in the series and redefined what it means to be a role-playing game. Despite earning over 70 perfect scores and winning numerous Game of the Year awards, there are still a few lost souls who have not played this game. Let me tell you why you should, and if you have played it, why you should play it again.
Here’s why I hate Disney.
I don’t hate Disney because of the way they steal traditional stories, that stupid greedy vault, or even the fact that they seem incapable of producing an animated movie without someone breaking into song. I hate Disney for their gender politics.
I will exclude Pixar from this, because they are so removed from Disney proper and so often avoid the “princess gets in trouble, prince saves the day” nonsense.
The thing I was most excited about going in to see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was the director. Brad Bird has directed some truly wonderful movies, like The Iron Giant (which, I have to confess, I haven’t seen), Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. I was not disappointed. The direction was easily the best part of the movie. The acting was generally serviceable, but the script was pretty poor. The chief complaint I have with the movie is that so many of the scenes seemed to be there because they wanted a cool scene with a Bollywood flair, or a throwback to the first Mission: Impossible. I have no problems when a movie does something because it is cool, because I love action movies. My issue comes when it is obvious. An example of this could be that in M:I 3, I had no problem with the ambush on the bridge, because a bridge is a perfect spot for an ambush. In M:I 2, the motorcycle front wheelie move was designed by John Woo to be cool, and didn’t make sense in any other context. M:I - GP generally had a good reason for the action set pieces, but there were a few that just bugged me.
This week, I would like to share my enthusiasm for two sitcoms that I have recently come to adore. In my constant drive to keep my finger on the geeky pulse, I have started watching The Dick Van Dyke Show and Cheers. Both shows are well executed sitcoms with sharp writing and great characters.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a tightly-plotted, subtle movie about spies and secrets in the England of 1973. Having read the book twice, I can say with complete confidence that, while there were changes in the film, they were generally small and streamlined the story. For those unaware, the film follows a retired spymaster named George Smiley, as he attempts to track down a mole in the highest levels of British intelligence. Mostly, this is accomplished by interviewing various players and piecing a coherent narrative from several distinct and fragmentary versions of the events. Book report over, what this movie does exceedingly well is take this big broad story and trim it down without appearing to remove anything at all. This movie revels in the deceptions of its characters and rewards close attention from the audience.
In my role as an occasional reviewer, I believe that my most important job is to recommend content that you, dear reader, might not think to try. So, it is a great honor for me to suggest that any and all of you who like video games try the demo for Asura’s Wrath. This game is loosely based on Asian Mythology, and infused with science fiction, which is nothing new. What makes this game (demo) great is the sheer level of over-the-top crazy that it revels in. And, revel it does. I want to save the biggest surprises for you, but the main character occasionally gets so mad that he grows extra arms. He also catches a missile, and throws it back at the ship that launched it, but my favorite thing in this demo is when you punch a guy so hard that your arms fall off.
Since the DC reboot – or reblaunch – I have only kept up with a few of the new books. I should confess that I didn’t pick up some of the ones I was most interested in, namely Action Comics and Wonder Woman. I did get The Flash, Deadman, Resurrection Man, Detective Comics, Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Nightwing, Teen Titans, The Savage Hawkman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Green Toaster. I think that’s it. Deadman and Green Lantern were interesting, but didn’t grab me. The Green Arrow was boring, predictable, and terrible. I was intrigued by, but ultimately disappointed in, Resurrection Man. I liked Nightwing and Teen Titans enough, but not enough to keep buying. Let us never mention the Green Toaster fiasco again. By my math, this leaves Blue Beetle, The Savage Hawkman, Detective Comics, Aquaman, and The Flash. I put all of these on my pull list.
I should start by clearing up one thing. This will not be a review; the game is too big for a review this close to launch. I have spent close to twenty hours playing this game, and I have finished the prologue. I shall assume that you have at least a passing understanding of MMOs like SWTOR. When I say that this isn’t Star Wars WoW, you should have an idea of what I mean. This is why I love the game. I played about an hour or two of WoW, after it went free to play, and I hated it. There were no hooks to pull me into the game. I felt no sense of ownership with my character. The story was the slimmest excuse for mechanics I have ever seen, and the world just felt silly. Back to Star Wars.
Cowboys & Aliens tells you everything you need to know right there in the title. If the idea of cowboys fighting aliens sounds cool to you, there’s a really good chance that you will enjoy this movie; if not, I don’t understand how you can get out of bed each morning. Like the similarly-titled Snakes on a Plane, this is a movie that delivers exactly what it promises. Before you get panicky, it is much less cheesy than SoaP; in fact, Cowboys & Aliens treats its western roots with tremendous care and obvious affection.