r6ZueZjnmZ7B2W9HGZxNVvrBtMg BDVR: May 2014

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star Trek: Into Darkness. Came out last year. Sequel to Star Trek, one of the best reboots I've seen. Some might disagree with me, but this is my website and my weekly column, so I get to say what I want. I remember seeing the poster to the left and thinking that this movie was gonna rock, and I was not disappointed.
It takes place sometime after the events of Star Trek, the movie that came out four years prior to this one. And the first thing I need to address is that the music is AMAZING. Every piece of it fits in with the events of the film and everything is placed perfectly. I especially like the new Star Trek theme song they created for the new series. For me, it immediately invokes the thought of these particular adventurers, like the theme songs of The Original Series, or The Next Generation do.
Second is that Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job as John Harrison, and while everybody else certainly does a good job as well, I'd like to specifically praise Zachery Quinto for capturing Spock quite amazingly. He really does know how to act. I don't want to spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it, so suffice to say that there's a scene where Spock goes absolutely nuts and Quinto managed to convey that shift in emotions perfectly.
Moving on to the story. Really, there's not much I can talk about without giving everything away, so I'm going to say that everything, even the things that seem to just fill space somehow manage to work in a way that gives it a certain feel to it that evokes everything I like about Star Trek.
What is it about this movie that I like so much?... Well the action is gripping, the drama is entertaining, and the special effects are some of the best I've seen. It seems like these days it takes some major effort to make CGI look anything less than phenomenal. The space battles look awesome to say the least, and while it is extremely focused on the crew and the planetary battles, it makes the space battles all the sweeter in that they're not over-used.
J. J. Abrams has proved that lightening can and does strike twice. I really liked everything about this movie, and while I'm not a hard-core Star Trek fan, I really want to see where they go with it from here. To the final frontier and beyond, these are the voyages of the good ship Star Trek, to boldly go where nobody dares to, to re-tell that which we know in a new and entertaining way. All in all, it's a 10.07* movie, and I highly recommend it.
Something I forgot to add was that I love how the plot twists and turns in unexpected ways, and I don't appreciate how the DVD cover gives away one of the major twists (Although given that I never read the boxes of movies and games for just that reason I didn't know that until the end of the movie). Might wanna get around to fixing that one, Paramount.
Check out my review of the first movie.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gallant Comics: Classic Heroes in all new adventures!

I picked up Issue #1 of Gallant Comics at Free Comic Book Day 2014, bought directly from Stephen Butler and signed by him, to me. I'm a long time fan of his art, I've got every issue of Sonic The Hedgehog I had that he drew signed by him.
Since he's a relatively local artist I've seen him every year at Free Comic Book Day for as long as I knew it existed. He also used to come to the local library to talk about comicbooks during the summer reading program.
So now that I've gotten my fanboyism out of the way, I have to talk about the comic.
In his own words, Stephen Butler said that it's getting back to the good old days of his youth, the comics he grew up with. And I have to say, for as much incoherent plotless and gutless garbage as the Silver and Golden Ages put out, this is inspired by the best of it.
While the characters might be from the golden age of comics, this has got an early silver-age, to late bronze age vibe to it. And personally, I like that the best out of all of them. Nowadays comics have gotten so complicated that I don't even bother reading them. Complicated plotlines and references that go back to decades ago when the comics were still reigned in by the scourge of the industry that was the Comics Code Authority.
Every issue page and issue so far is on the Gallant Comics website (Which can be found  here), and while that is nice, the physical version was printed in a way that pops right off the page.
I'm not saying the digital version is inferior, I'm just saying that the way certain lines catch the light makes it (The art, the text, everything) pop. The comic has a style to it that combines the best of old and new into something that is entertaining to read and to look at.
I could spend hours poring over the intricacies of every panel. And on to the plot. I'm distinctly reminded of some of the Wolverine comics I read several years ago detailing the Weapon X project. It's got a mysterious overarching plot that is gradually revealed as you move forward, or so I hope. What I know so far is that it's really entertaining, and while it might not be for everybody (Because nothing is except for air, water and food).
There are several similarities in the plot to other series, but it's not copied and pasted, because it's both broken up by flashbacks that expand on what I presume to be a massive, overarching plot and encounters with other characters. I don't want to spoil anything for you, I just think you should check it out for yourself. It's kind of hard to describe what it is, but suffice it to say that it's one of the best comics I've read in my life, and definitely the best comic I've read in years. It both plays straight certain super-hero tropes and subverts them. I'd like to see a fully colored version with the word balloons taken out, just to see how it works without dialogue.
All in all, I enjoyed it. It's definitely worth the time to read it, and I give it a 9.9* rating. I've actually been putting this off since FCBD 2014 for a while so I could take the time to finish the series thus far.
Now, I'm gonna get to the in-depth review and plot analysis, so ****SPOILERS INBOUND!**** If you haven't read it all yet, click HERE. Don't worry, I'll still be here when you come back.
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You read it yet? Good. If you haven't then don't blame me for spoiling it for you.







Now, while it's a breath of fresh air for the comics industry, the plot so far seems to be the standard modern-day/near future/far future sci-fi plot from the Alien movies, the Resident Evil series, and pretty much every zombie/monster/robots/computers take over the world series that exists these days. While I do like the plot of mad scientists who want power trying to take over the world, I have to point out that the plot might seem dated in the future depending on how many more things use that plot. Now, since it does add its own touches to the standard hive-mind sci-fi plot it avoids the potential pitfalls of being cliched. So far the comic has introduced a lot of characters in each issue, and I hope they do something with all of them and don't let them fall to the wayside. I also hope they don't introduce so many that it becomes hard to follow. I love the direction it's going, and I love the art. The art, ahhhhh... The art. It combines just enough realism and cartoon stylings that it evokes the best of modern and older times. I love the feel of it as a whole, it evokes a hearty feel to it. I can't really do it justice in words, so I hope you know what I'm talking about. The comic even makes fun of itself at times, poking fun at the naming conventions of superheroes and other typical tropes of the genre. I like the comic, I like the artist, and I like the writing in this. So while I would like to get into this further, I'm having a hard time talking about it outside of saying that it's good and go check it out. So, I guess I'm gonna wrap this up by saying that it's good, and go check it out!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword first impressions.

This is a game I started a while ago, but put down because I was busy with other games.  Well  The game is essentially diet Prince of Persia, or maybe a watered down version of The Legend of Zelda, only with controls that don't really mesh into the gameplay as well as they could. The plot is this: Princess Cherry Blossom has been kidnapped and it's your job to find her. Not the most original plot I've ever heard, especially since you play as the silent hero with a magic sword only known as the Sakura Samurai, or The Samurai Hana. Resembling Zelda a bit more yet? I'll get to that soon, but first I need to say that while the game is actually entertaining, it's got some flaws. First things first, there's no autosave. While a lot of games can get away with that, they also need to make the save points harder to completely pass up. You could potentially go through the whole game without ever entering a town and therefore never finding the inns. And while I didn't get that far, I did manage to get a decent ways into the game without knowing there was no autosave feature. Because I had other things to do, I set the game aside and later on started up a different application (I think it was the eShop) then when I came back to it I found that I had to start all over again. Which was actually good so that I could go back through the game from the beginning. I should probably get to the combat, which is the real meat of the game. It's a lot like Zelda, except that it locks into the Z/L targeting system without the option to turn it off. While you can switch into free-roaming it leave you open to attacks. That, and the fact that you can't go from locked combat to free combat smoothly. In addition to that, the camera controls are left up to the game, which winds up making it swing around wildly and frustratingly. While the combat system doesn't let you hone in on a single enemy it also keeps more than one enemy at a time from striking you. But that just seems like compensation for bad programming. You can only strike your enemies when they let their guard down, and if the movement speed of the main character was a little quicker than a snails pace while targeting then it might be a lot more fun. The main way to strike your enemies is to wait until they're gonna strike and then dodge to the left, right or back to avoid the attack and then slice them in the rib-cage. While the game isn't an RPG, it does require a bit of grinding, specifically for flawless consecutive attack dodges (Which can be exchanged at the nearest items shop for gold) and gold. This is to upgrade and maintain your sword, as well as to buy items that are almost required to finish the boss levels. Speaking of which: The boss levels consist of an endurance test against waves of enemies, and then a fight against a big guy with a huge weapon and a ton of health. Now in Zelda you get heart pieces around the world and a heart container when you beat a boss, but in this you get half a heart container whenever you beat a level. And it's the same for boss levels. All they really do is unlock the next area. There also aren't any dungeons, or side challenges to complete other than a few in the towns which just earn you money. Now, on to a few more things before I close out this weeks article: There's a garden with cherry trees in it that when you dedicate steps that you take while the 3DS is in sleep mode they bloom. The reason I'm mentioning this is that one of the villagers (Each village has exactly the same people and shops in it, just rearranged to make it harder to find the inn and shop) mentioned that when the evil warlord who kidnapped Princess Cherry Blossom is overthrown it would be nice to have something to look at. Now, I take long walks. And that means that I usually have almost 3,000 steps a day to dedicate, but only 30% of a single tree bloomed when I dedicated about that much to it. My thinking is that maybe I'll get a bad ending or something if all the trees aren't blooming, so I'll do my best to shoot for the best ending I can and see how that turns out. All in all the game needed to spend a while longer in the planning stages before being released is my opinion of it so far, but then again I really don't like sub-par Zelda clones. Zelda clones I don't mind, because I really like the Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone game, but ones that dumb down the formula don't satisfy my action adventure cravings. It's not a bad game by any means, but it's not as good as it could be. See you next week, I've got something special planned!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Star Wars: Wild Space

Star Wars Wild Space is a Clone Wars tie-in novel that was written by Karen Miller and came out in 2008. It's situated during the missing R2-D2 arc in Clone Wars, and follows what Obi-Wan Kenobi was doing during that span of time. It's also one of my favorite works of fiction, right behind Ready Player One and right before Pendragon Book 6: The Rivers of Zadaa. I'll get to Pendragon someday, and I'll do Sakura Samurai soon, but today's May The Fourth so I figured I'd review this book. I'm not a major Star Wars fan by any means, I haven't watched the movies in years and I've only ever seen one episode of The Clone Wars. I was a fan of the books for a while, but the New Republic era's writing quality spiraled further and further downwards the more I read of it to the point where I stopped reading it. Plus I couldn't figure out which books when where in the timeline since they're not numbered in any way aside from the timeline which is either in the books or isn't. Anyways, the book is three-hundred and forty-two pages long and I listened to the audiobook version myself. The first thing I have to mention is that the audiobook version is amazing. It adds a lot of emotion to the journey and it makes for an entertaining experience. The book starts off after the first battle of Geonosis, and shortly before the end of Attack of the Clones, and provides for a great deal of character development between Obi-Wan and Anakin despite the short length of the scene. It also provides expanded development on the part of the Jedi, making them seem less heartless and allowing for them to seem like actual people. It then skips ahead a bit to after the events of Star Wars: Clone Wars, where Obi-Wan has received information regarding an attack by General Grievous. The following scenes provide for a great deal of interesting character development for everyone involved. Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Mace Windu, and Padme. It also makes fleshes out the whole universe of Star Wars so that it becomes more three-dimensional, and it's done in such a way that it's relatable to real life, in a way that I felt like I knew what the characters were feeling. This book does a lot to make Revenge of the Sith a better movie, although it also does a lot to make Anakin's face-heel turn towards the end of the movie (And that's not a spoiler because Star Wars Episode V has been out for almost thirty-five years now and everyone pretty much knows Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.) a lot more perplexing.
While he would do anything to protect a certain someone, he also has a lot more reasons to hate and distrust the Sith and everything they want to do then he does to be annoyed by the Jedi, and that was moot by that point in time. This book pretty much just piles on to the reasons as to why Anakin wouldn't trust the Sith, and features absolutely amazing storytelling.
Seriously, a lot of the book is spent with two characters on a planet with nothing else there except local wildlife and it's absolutely astounding how it's written to be riveting. It helps build Obi-Wan up as a character and it also builds up another important character who was barely mentioned in either trilogy, yet who died a tragic death at the hands of the Empire.
It's absolutely beautiful how well this book is written. Everything, from beginning to climax is perfectly paced, and by the time the book ends it seems like you spent a horrible, wonderful and exhausting eternity with the characters from start to finish. The struggle of a man to overcome his obstacles is portrayed so perfectly and so entertainingly that it will leave you wondering why this didn't have a movie all to itself. They could get Ewan Mcgregor and the rest of the original trilogy cast back just to make a movie or maybe even a miniseries out of this and it would be amazing.
From start to finish this book is paced so perfectly and everything is described in a way that left me with a picture of the scenes in my head that was as clear as seeing it in pictures. It's a great book that not enough people have read, and all in all I'd say it deserves a 10.0* rating. I'll see you all next week with another review.