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STAR WARS: THE FORCE WAKES UP – A Spoiler Free Review

It’s pretty good. About as good as a paint-by-numbers action movie can be. And if it sounds like I’m damning the movie with faint praise, good. Because faint praise is about all I can muster.

On the technical side of things, it’s pretty much spot on, which it better be with that kind of budget. Of course, you can see JJ Abrams’ trademark lack of visual continuity everywhere. Each scene looks great individually, but the movement doesn’t follow from one shot to another.

The creative side of things is bland. The movie does nothing to earn its emotional moments. Just like in Star Trek, Abrams completely fails to get *why* these things he’s referencing worked in the first place. Since I don’t want to spoil The Force Gets Out of Bed, I’ll use ‘Into Darkness’ to illustrate my point.

Spock’s death in ‘Wrath of Khan’ was one of the greatest, most impactful moments of cinema history. Spock and Kirk had been friends for fifteen years. Their relationship had gone up and down, but they relied on each other. They made one another better people. Kirk was hot-headed and rash, but he knew it was a weakness and let Spock reel him in, even when they disagreed. Spock learned that sometimes, you have to make quick decisions and that constant logical thinking can paralyze you with indecision.

In ‘Into Darkness’, Kirk and Spock had known each other for four hours of screen time, three of which they spent acting like children and forming no bond of any kind. Kirk sacrificing himself for Spock was a complete waste, content with simply referencing an older event without any build-up. The emotion wasn’t even close to earned.

Almost every moment in The Force Gets its Morning Coffee fails for the same reason, though never to the same degree. “Hey, remember the Millennium Falcon? Me too! It exists! How cool is that! And those characters? They sure are back! Neat, right?” When characters die, you know they aren’t dead (and the movie knows you know, since their reintroduction is a perfunctory handful of lines so as to not waste everyone’s time – so it’s the worst of both options).

The last thirty minutes comes down with a serious case of characters just reading the script, like they know “this is the foreshadowing part! We know what’s going to happen in the next movie, so I’d better say these things now. The writers spent all this time building up our baddies, they’re obviously not going to kill them, so I’m going to act as if their survival is obviously guaranteed even though everything is falling apart.”

But by far the worst of this is the denouement. The movie literally makes a joke about its own ending about half an hour before doing exactly that joke thing with a completely straight face. Before the climactic encounter, one of the characters, winking really hard to the audience, straight out says “wouldn’t it be silly if [character] did [thing]! Haha yeah, that would be silly!”. And the end of the movie is [character] doing [thing], but apparently Abrams forgot that this was dumb.

But despite all this, it really doesn’t suck! In fact, it’s kind of awesome! This is mostly thanks to the characters. The characters are awesome. Han’s intro felt forced and the ending was telegraphed a mile away, but everything in between those two moments was perfect. The new cast is all great, too! It has long been said in writerly circles that people read books / watch movies for the characters before anything else, and Force Awakens delivers on that front 1000%.

TL;DR It’s good, but fails in all the ways you have to expect JJ Abrams to fail by this point. Nothing is surprising, the emotional moments usually miss the mark, but it sure is pretty, and manages a few fist-pumping fuck-yeah moments. Not as many as Pacific Rim, for example, but it’s still pretty awesome here and there. And the characters are fun.

I’d appreciate keeping spoilers out of the comments, thank you.

P.S. Kylo Ren needs a haircut. His hair looks like mine when I don’t cut it for a year. He could have a family of rats living in there and no one would know.

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Terminator Genisys Trailer: Spoileriffic!

So Sarrah Conner knows Kyle Reese is coming; one of the original Terminators is a good guy and old; John Connor was turned into a nanomachine Terminator/Human hybrid (?); the *original* original Terminator comes back at some point; and a T-1000 liquid metal Terminator is running around.

If this movie can pull off every one of these threads, I will be blown away, but I’m starting to think this is going to be a case of Awesome Trailer, Terrible Movie. There’s just too much stuff going on at once here.

EDIT: Surprising no one, Terminator Genisys is not good. Wah wah.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Film

 

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Hey, I finished a novel!!

It sucks. It’s garbage. It needs some major edits – hell, a whole damn rewrite is needed to make this thing any good.

 

It feels GREAT.

 

It’s an honest-to-goodness 130k word novel that I actually finished. Who cares if it sucks? Just finishing the damn thing was a huge learning experience. The beginning actually rocks, though the middle is pretty much a mess, and the ending doesn’t work because the middle doesn’t work. But I see what I did wrong, I know what I need to focus on the next time around. I have been putting aside a million little ideas so I could narrow in on this current project. Time to grab one of those and start over!

 

I’ll probably cannibalise this completed project for ideas. There’s some good shit in there!

 

BRB butchering my manuscript.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2014 in Literature

 

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And Now for Something Completely Different

At this point, I’m flippin’ tables. I can’t seem to get a smooth, stable savegame transfer from CK II to EU IV. So that’s been aborted. You may be angry, but allow me to distract you with shinies!
Look over there! Hordes models!

Dominar Rasheth, my primary Warlock.

Dominar Rasheth, my primary Warlock.

The Bronzeback Titan; biggest, baddest, motherfuckerest, pachydermiest monstrosity in the game. If something is in front of him, it dies. If you're wondering what's in his hands, it's body parts and gore. He's in the middle of ripping an infantry model into four pieces.

The Bronzeback Titan; biggest, baddest, motherfuckerest, pachydermiest monstrosity in the game. If something is in front of a Bronzeback, it dies.
If you’re wondering what’s in his hands, it’s body parts and gore. He’s in the middle of ripping an infantry model into four pieces.

The Archidon.

The Archidon.

The Gladiator Titan, for when you want something moved.

The Gladiator Titan, for when you want something moved.

Another shot of the Gladiator.

Another shot of the Gladiator.

The Gator Posse

The Gator Posse

LOOK AT THOSE FUCKING HATS! Do you think the Gators give even one single fuck? You, sir, are incorrect.

LOOK AT THOSE FUCKING HATS!
Do you think the Gators give even one single fuck? You, sir, are incorrect.

Wrong Eye, Snapjaw, and their pet Bullsnapper.

Wrong Eye, Snapjaw, and their pet Bullsnapper.

Saxon Orrik, a Cyclops Savage, and a Basilisk Krea.

Saxon Orrik

Saxon, a Cyclops Savage, and a Basilisk Krea.

Saxon, a Cyclops Savage, and a Basilisk Krea.

Lord Carver, BMMD, Esq. III, Commander of the First Assault Brigade Company; and Dr. Arkadius. Best friends forever.

Lord Carver, BMMD*, Esq. III, Commander of the First Assault Brigade Company; and Dr. Arkadius. Best friends forever.

* Baron of Most Massive Destruction

The Bone Grinders.

The Bone Grinders.

Frankenhog and Stubbz

Frankenhog and Stubbz.

The Slaughterhousers, an experiment in how much detail I can leave out and still have them look good ont he table. I hate painting units.

The Slaughterhousers, an experiment in how much detail I can leave out and still have them look good on the table. I hate painting units.

The poor, poor Agonizers, bleeding and screaming across the battlefield.

The poor, poor Agonizers, bleeding and screaming across the battlefield.

The Paingiver Task Masters. Because what Skorne army is complete without slave drivers?

The Paingiver Task Masters. Because what Skorne army is complete without slave drivers?

Master Tormentor Morghul and a unit of Paingiver Beast Handlers.

Master Tormentor Morghul and a unit of Paingiver Beast Handlers.

 

What’s Next? (Also, here’s the save-game export to EU IV)

Crusader Kings is done. And with it, Dar al-Islam comes to a close; next up is the Age of Islam series!
Here’s the rules I will be playing with:
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I’m actually a little leery having both AI bonuses and Lucky Nations stacking on one another. This can result in some very powerful Lucky Nations against me. I am also keeping the AI difficulty at Normal, because hard isn’t so much a better AI as it is a more annoying one.
The save-game export from CK II to EU IV is here, if you want to play my Kalmen Empire. Enjoy! WARNING: May be buggy
And now, without further ado; The Age of Islam begins today (EDIT: Scratch that! To celebrate, I’m going back to posting every two days (nope!), rather than every three. I’ve got enough of a backlog, and my workload is calming down.
EDIT: Yeah, that’s not happening. I had to do a clean reinstall of EU IV because no game I played would go beyond June 1, 1450. So there’s going to be a break between CK II and EU IV. Sorry!
 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Thirty: The Line of Kalmen says Good-Bye to Crusader Kings

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Oh! Well then… That was unexpected.
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Well then, Ajeddig.
Hello.

We should probably try to find the murderer. You may not be safe!

Oh, no worries. It was me.

It was you!?

Oh yeah, totally! I want to be Roman Emperor, and he was taking way too long. Besides, he was old anyway.

He was 59! Some members of your dynasty lived until they were 80!

Not Aksil lol!

God damn it… Fine. Whatever. You want to be Roman Emperor? All you need is Croatia.

Sure. No biggie. I’m Caliph of the most powerful Empire in the world. Even the Roman Empire at its full height could not claim the power I wield.

I don’t know if that’s true.

Shut up! I’m Caliph, I do what I want!

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Immediately we run into trouble in Aquileia, but equally immediately we have reinforcements on the way.

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But then, that’s how it goes when you control half of Iberia, all of Africa, all of the Middle East (sans northern Persia, which remains Seljuk), all of Anatolia, most of the Balkans, and Italy. The Kalmen armies are an infinite horde of well-equipped, experienced veterans fuelled by hate and faith.

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Though the battle is won, the Lotharingian army outmanoeuvres the Kalmen forces and gets into Northern Italy.

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But it doesn’t matter.

Of course it doesn’t! I’m just that awesome!

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So guess what?

What?

Guess

Roman Empire?

Damn straight!

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Are you ready for this? Are you ready to push that button?

ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH FOR THE MUSLIM ROMAN EMPIRE?

Yes?

Good.

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Well, okay. That description makes no sense, since it’s supposed to be available only to the Byzantine Empire. So allow me a moment to make up my own version…

Friends, Romans, Countrymen. People of the North and West: Even among the deserts of Arabia and Africa, the glories of the great and ancient Roman Empire are known. As Sultan of Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem, Caliph Ajeddig has done what no Christian pretender has done; taken the lands of the former Empire by the might of his will. No one living can claim the same. By the Grace of Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Caliph Ajeddig does hereby claim the lands of the former Empire of Rome for Islam.

There, I think that works much better!

I like it!

Now let’s take a look at our GLORIOUS EMPIRE!

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Dat imperial purple. I only wish it had changed our name to ‘Roman Empire’ or something similar.

So what’s next?

I have no idea. There’s not much left to do, honestly. We’ve steamrolled everything that got in our way, and I don’t really want to keep doing that on and on until the game ends and we own all of Europe. Time to transfer over?

Actually, it’s that steamrolling I take issue with. I need to remind myself of the original goal; colonize Texas as Muslim, because that’s just hilarious. I don’t want to just cakewalk my way through EU IV, so I’m going to nerf the Muslim Roman Empire. We have no use for Mali…

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… Abyssinia…

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… and Hungary.

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None of these are particularly important, so we aren’t losing much. Of course, it is precisely because they are unimportant that I want to rid of them – they are cruft I don’t want to deal with any longer.

So then. Let’s resign, shall we?

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Look on the right-hand side. The great leaders of the Kalmen Dynasty. Man, do I ever miss Koriaur. And Yahya. And Hakam. Those were some fucking great times.

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The leaders from Sultan Hakam onwards. Really goes to show just how bogged-down the game has become since taking over the Caliphate.

Also note the score. I beat the Crusader Kings II ‘high score’ marker, with three centuries left to go on the clock. Damn.

NEXT TIME: Playing This:

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Oh God, that is a really ugly version of Imperial Purple (and it’s even worse in-game). I think I’ll go back to the Arabian Green we had before…

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Ahhh… much easier on the eyes. Guess all that ‘Roman Empire’ stuff was for naught, eh? Oh well, I needed something to do to occupy my time.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Twenty-Nine: The War for Rome

Hey Aksil, how’s that invasion of Rome going? Have we taken the seat of Catholic law yet?
Yaaaarghble

Still sick, eh? That’s a shame.

Grump grump grump

Poor Aksil.

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The Papacy mustered a levy just in time for the retinue of ours to attack it. Then the Knights Hospitaller muster just north of the city.

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But that is of no matter to us. The City of Rome is ours!

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We still have six more holdings in the province before we can say we ‘own’ Rome, but we’re damn close!

Susa, a small Duchy just north of our Italian holdings, has joined on the side of the Papacy (duh). Is this just the beginning? Will Susa’s support snowball into the destruction of the Caliphate?

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Probably not, considering…

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Yeah, I can’t even claim this one as another ‘skin of my teeth’ thing. No one else wanted to help Rome defend its walls against the Muslim horde. No one cares about the Pope.

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Alexandria has served us well for centuries, but Rome will provide a far more central location for us to expand our growing Mediterranean empire. This does have one major downside though; the tech level in Rome sucks compared to the mighty technological marvels in Alexandria. We’re back a few levels of tech on everything. Which sucks, but with our genius councillors we can rocket ahead once again!

Wooo~~

Hey, that’s slightly more like a word!

I am feeling… slightly better.

After being stressed and ill for a year, it’s good to see you back on your feet!

Indeed. So. Am I Roman Emperor yet?

Not yet. There are two things you need:

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You need the Duchy of Croatia from the Lotharingians, and the Emirate of Sicily, which you recently gave away to your son.

So I should ask for it back?

He won’t like that, and neither will the rest of your vassals. But you could do that. Or you can die, let him inherit everything, and he’ll have the necessary parts (except Croatia, which you can take now, no problemo).

Yeah, let’s do that.

Well… we have a truce with the Lotharingians for another eight years. I kinda stole Venice from them, so we need to wait for that truce to end before we can take Croatia from them.

Also:

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But I’m not Orthodox!

I don’t think the game is checking for that. It only cares if you’re the Byzantine Emperor, which you are. This would make sense if I had edited the Mending of the Schism decision, but I haven’t! It’s not on the list of decisions you can make, but these events keep popping up anyway!

Weird.

I know!

While we wait for the truce with Lotharingia to expire, we can invade a few other places. Burgundy would be a good choice – a lot of good land across the Alps, in southern France and modern-day Switzerland.

Or?

Or we could go further into Iberia, taking land from Gascogne.

Wasn’t that the plan all along?

Yeah, I guess it was. Why would I want land in France? I feel like I’m conquering stuff for the sake of conquering stuff, just to have something to do. So let’s take Iberia; declare the Invasion of Andalusia!

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A naval invasion of Valencia is the last thing they expect, I’m sure. Yet here we go!

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The war progresses with stupefying ease. They [robably didn’t expect us to march along the coast and come at them from the North, from Italy. But we did.

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And just like that, Andalusia is ours, and our hold on southern Iberia is almost total.

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NEXT TIME: This is Getting Boring

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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