Saturday, August 25, 2012

15 Minuts till Launch

So I have 15 minutes left in my lunch break and I decided to write a bit.  I won't get anything done but still sometimes it is nice.  As I write this the Reaper Miniature kickstarter is rumbling towards its conclusion.  It will have raised over 3 million monies.  People will have collectively donated three million monies for an extrodinarily large pile of little metal toys.  These toys aren't linked to any game in particular and for the most part they will be placed on shelves and looked at appovingly.  Resisting the urge to hop in has been overwhelming.  These miniatures (imma gonna stop calling them toys now) are amazing looking and the sheer variety you'll get for your $100 means that if you ever need a mini to represent some fantasy thing you'll have one.  However, ultimately it is a pile of stuff and it is up to you to make them useful.

That's not quite what I want to say though.  What I do want to say is that once again we have evidence of geek hobbies pricing themselves out of business.  Why are people in such a frenzy over this?  Mostly because it is a fantastic deal and it is likely the only one we as gamers are going to get.  Partly we've done this to ourselves.  We've become obsessed with full color rule books, glossy pages, and for lack of a better word "bling".  That is all well and good but it is slowly killing the hobby.  It is strangling out people one by one.  It is making it so that we can't afford to branch out, exparament, and try new things.  Game companies are becoming overly reliant on .pdfs but .pdfs don't need full color back grounds because it just makes nativagtion slower. 

So we turn back to the Reaper Kickstarter people putting down money for a pile of miscellany because it is our best shot at getting a good deal on something.  It is a little sad but it is also nice that we have this opportunity.   I don't think geekery is going to die and I do think the flash brings in more players.  In fact I know it does.  It is just that sometimes I think the price is getting to be to high.

Friday, August 17, 2012

T-t-t-otal Recall Remake

You know what I love about the Total Recall remake?  The wealth of jokes you can make about it.  From the "Original Pictures" production company to the "What is this, it feels like I've seen this movie before.  It is almost like I can recall it, except it was on Mars?  What is happening?".  I like that second one the best I thought of it just now.  There is lots I want to say on this subject so I am going to break it into smaller posts.  I am also planning on starting a movie blog just for movies so...if you are reading this there click a link or something.  I dunno how it works.

ANYWAY I want to say this here and now.  I liked the remake.  Did I love it?  No.  If I had to choose between watching the remake and the original which would I one over the other?  Depends on my mood.  Will it sit proundly on my dvd shelf next to Total Recall?  Nah this isn't worth owning but I might netflix it or something.

Okay that said, lets talk about what worked and that is primarily Kate Beckinsale's preformance.  HOLY GOD was she amazing in that movie.  A good action movie needs a good villain and she is one of the best.  She is unquestionably more bad ass than Quaid and he knows it which is why he spends the whole movie flat out running from her.  After the initial fight he doesn't even bother he just books it when he see's her coming and for good reason.  I mean this girl puts the god damned Terminator to shame.  When she showed up Quaid would crap his pants and we'd crap right along with him cause she is scary.  When he gets way and you get those classic shots of her glaring after him with a look of utter frustration and rage you know deep down that he is a dead man and it is more of a matter of when not if.  Her preformance is the best thing about that movie and it is so good that I can forgive the plot and most of the second act just to watch her thunder across the screen with cold ruthless precision kicking the shit out of everything in her way.  She gave a preformance that deserved a much better movie.

So lets talk about what didn't work.  Yep if you guessed the last third of the movie you are right!  The movie had me on board right up until midway through the scene in the polluted quarentine zone thing.  This is the moment when the movie could of really gotten its shit together and become something worth a damn.  This was the moment when all the things could of clicked together and we could of gotten this nice large "massive things are at stake" sort of deal.  Instead this is where the movie falls apart.  This moment is the pivitol scene in both movies which is funny.  However in the original the movie proceeds on its original trajectory, good campy fun.  In the remake this is where the entire movie falls apart.  This is the moment where it cumbles into a mediocre mess.  This is the reason why the film will never ever be more than average and it won't be fondly remembered even though Kate Beckinsale was godlike.  This is where everything goes wrong.

I am pretty good at suspension of disbelief.  I mean we are watching a science fiction movie, whatever lean back, have some fun and enjoy the movie.  If you are going to sit there and nitpick about magnet cars or what have you then why would you even go to the movies in the first place?   So when they enter into the special sealed subway car I got really excited.  We are in an action movie and the quarentine zone makes for a pretty impressive set piece.  I mean come on leathal air, robot antagonists, the enigmatic leader of the resistance, a lot of major elements are going on in this scene.  Then they made the reveal that there is no robot army kill code and that this whole thing has been a set up to find the resistance leader.  One, whatever, but two we have this fascinating monkey wrench.  The resistance was banking on that kill code and what were they going to do?

When the govenment forces storm the building they came in through the windows and this is where I got really excited.  I love action scenes where the environment is a major factor and I could just imagine the resistance running not for the guns but for the  gas masks first because the toxic environment from outside is gonna come pouring in.  I could just imagine Quaid stalking from opponent to opponent dismantaling robots and taking masks throwing them to the resistance and they make one final desperate stand before being wiped out.

I imagined the scene ending with Cranston standing triumphantly over the dead body of the resistance leader but faced with a difficult choice.  Quaid in a personal sacrifice had taken in to much of the toxic environment and was rapidly dying.  So he is faced with a choice let his most valuable asset die or  reveal the ultimate trump card.  That not only can they cure exposure to the lethal quarentine zone but they can break up the noxious clouds.  The reason they don't is a power play nothing know like in the original movie.

None of this happens of course.  When the movie ends the world is still a toxic wasteland it is just that the "fall" is broken and a bunch of robots got destroyed.  Here is the thing though.  They can build more robots.  They can build lots of them and robots don't  need to fucking breath so it isn't like they could be flown into the Colony a couple of years from now to finish the job.  It isn't like they exposed the government leader for a mad man.  It is like they went "fuck this shit" and just table flipped the last third of the movie which was actually NOT BAD up until then.  In Total Recall Quaid brought air to Mars.  In the remake Quaid didn't do shit really and it is a little disapointing.  Oh well.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Difference Between People and Animals.

This is one of those things.  The argument has been around forever and it is one of those problems that never seems to go away.  I hadn't thought about the issue for awhile until I read half an article about it in Harper's.  I would of read the other half but I was done with lunch and I REALLY wanted to play Cataclysm.  Man that game is fun.  Anyway I was thinking about it today and I figgured some things out.

First of all I think that if mankind had adopted more herbavores as pets we would seen more evidence of tool usuage a lot earlier.  I mean my bunny loved the Albertson's Brand Fruit Punch soda that was its favorite thing in the world.  One day I watched as it approched an open can.  I half expected the bunny to just knock it over and drink away.  However, I think it knew it's satisfation would be thwarted by myself.  So instead it wanted to carry it away.  It spent 5 minutes carefully bending the opening tab upwards so it could have a handle that would allow my bunny to carry the can away.  It would of worked too but the bunny misjudged the weight of the can, tripped over it, and then it scampered off trying to hide.  We don't think of bunnies as tool users but there you have it.  My bunny carefully and deliberatly made a handle for itself so it could carry something away that it ordinarily had no way of lifting.  I loved that bunny.

Whatever distinction we tried to come up with between man and animals hasn't worked.  It isn't going to work.  Animals just do lots of the basic things we do.  Part of the problem with this debate is that it is rooted in dualism.  Dualism almost never works when complextity is added to the situation.  Dualism started with the distinction between the mind and the body but you see it everywhere.  I think there is something in man's nature to carefully compare two things to see differences and similarities.  Whatever, while it is a handy illustrative tool it has little to do with actual reality.  Ergo the prime differences between man and animal isn't that we talk and they don't or we use tools and they don't but rather the degree and ability to which we can do these things. 

We can teach a monkey sign language, we suspect that dolphins have a complex form of communication, we've seen pack animals communicate but nothing approaches what I am doing now.  Or even youtube comments as pathetic as they are.  That doesn't mean that animals don't do it it is just that we do it more.

The same goes for tool usages, the way we deal with bordom, our relationship with instincts and all sorts of other things.

Animals also have both emotions and personalities and I believe that these are very close to our own.  I don't think we loose anything from this line of reasoning and it is a lot more productive than standing around with your arms crossed shouting "monkies don't speak" when the can. 

This is such a simple idea and it is sad that I've never seen it before.