Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Deadpool's Force-Sensitive Movie Review Of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) (Spoilers Ahead, Ye Matey!)

Hey everybody! It's been a while, and I am completely to blame for that! I hope your holidays were happy, your bellies full, and your presents less sucky! It's been a difficult time lately, especially with the large mountain of deaths we've been seeing. George R.R. Martin still has yet to take responsibility, but I think we all know it's only a matter of time. I'm going to confess to you all, after the passing of Carrie Fisher, I almost wasn't sure if I still wanted to write up this review. All of the celebrity deaths this year have been tough, but this one hit me especially hard. This is the woman who showed me that being a princess does not mean damsel in distress (especially after becoming a kick-ass general to boot!). And I also need to point out that she was a damn fine role model in real life, who came forward about mental illness and even encouraged others to be more aware and understanding of its effects on our lives. That's a true fracking hero right there, folks.

One of the reasons I hesitated to still write this review, wasn't just because it was a new Star Wars film we were talking about here. As others who saw the movie already know, her likeness was also used in a scene just at the end of the movie. Alongside the likeness of Peter Crushing, these CGI versions of the classic characters rubbed some people the wrong way (more on that later), and it made me wonder if it was a bad idea to write up the funny junk you're used to me spouting on this thing, at this moment in time. I thought about it a little more, and it finally hit me: Carrie Fisher was funny as shit, and she'd want me to try and continue to be funny as shit for her as well! She wouldn't want us to all stop to be sad and mopey forever. This one is for YOU, general!!! <3

So I'm going to come right out and say it: I didn't expect as much from this movie. By being introduced as "A Star Wars Story" (which just sounds awful, and worthy of a "fire the marketing person" stance), people immediately had the impression the movie would feel mediocre, and those vibes didn't help me keep up enthusiasm. It also didn't help that the movie had some massive script re-writes near the end of its production, raising some red flags about how the whole thing was going to turn out. So what happened? Has the Star Wars cash cow been milked dry and buried in a pool of its own feces?

I am happy to report that, while definitely fatter, the cow is still being kept in very healthy condition, and being fed all of the right preservatives! There are flaws to be sure, and I'll be dissecting them like a proper snob soon enough, but I really need to emphasize that this is well worth seeing, and I think you too will be as shocked as I was by how well this one turned out.

So what's going on in what I'll now call the ONLY prequel movie? (Yeah, I said it. COME AT ME, HAYDEN!) We're introduced to a young Jyn Erso (played by the awesome Felicity Jones), essentially the main character of this film. Her father Galen (played by the equally awesome Mads Mikkelsen) created technology for the Imperials, and lived a pretty good life, minus all the mental torture and never being able to sleep again parts. He tried to get out, but they keep PULLIN' HIM BACK IN! The Imperials wanted more, just like that greedy asshole, Oliver Twist. Galen refused, people died, and Jyn watched as her mother was pointlessly killed and her father was taken away to construct a super weapon that I won't give away the name of, but it totally rhymes with "Meth Car." Huh..., why was THAT the first thing that came to my head?...

With all of that development behind us, we lay down the proper groundwork for the rest of the movie. Jyn, older now, meets up with the Rebels and joins K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), a hilariously blunt droid that she reprogrammed, and Cassian, a man working for the Rebels and sent to assassinate Jyn's father (unbeknownst to her of course, because what fun would that be otherwise!?). That's not all though! We also get to meet Donnie "freaking" Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior who has a strong belief in the Force, even though he is not a Jedi Knight. There's many other important characters (despite how small some of their roles actually were) who are all worth a mention, but unfortunately I'm not going to do that because we need to keep this review moving! Rolling, rolling, rolling...

We don't get a lot of time to really take in and care about these characters much, but they all play their parts well and that should be noted first. Most of the best lines came from K-2SO, but I think Donnie Yen personally had the best quote of the entire movie. When he and the other main characters all had bags placed over their heads while they get taken away to a hidden base, he responds "... Are you kidding me? I'm blind!!!" Priceless. Freaking. Priceless. The people in theater cackled something horrible at that part.

Comedy aside, this movie is actually very dark. Arguably the darkest in the whole franchise, in fact. I think many could have guessed that all of the main characters (outside of the ones we see in A New Hope) were pretty much doomed from the get go. Hell, I'd have been more surprised if any of them DID survive at that point. What made this movie still stand out is the things we DIDN'T already know beforehand, like the battle that took place leading up to A New Hope, the people involved, and even more importantly, what was up with that exhaust port weakness on the Death Star!? Amazingly, all of these things were finally explained to us, and in a way that makes sense. I'm so glad it made sense, you have no idea. Like, that exhaust port has been the butt of jokes since before I was even alive! It's good to tell people to finally put this in their traps and shove it!

James Earl Jones reprised his role as the voice of Darth Vader in Rogue One, and holy freaking bejeebus was he frightening!!! Okay, he had that one corny line about "choking," but everything else made me scared to be in the same movie theater. (Come to think of it, Vader making a pun about choking would also make me afraid to be in the same movie theater. What the hell man, do you get off on that kind of thing!?) Anyone who was set back by the (unintentionally) classic "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" moment in Revenge of the Sith, can finally sit back and relish just how much of a scary mofo this guy was and still is! I assure you, the final five minutes of the movie will have you gripping your theater chair, no matter how much soda was spilled on it.

There were all kinds of other nods to the previous movies too. And not just with character cameos, but actual effects in scenery and other things that only lifeless nerds like myself would notice! We'd be here all day if I picked them each apart, but know that the people behind this movie did their homework and it shows.

I also need to talk more about Jyn, because she's so worth it. Rey was an amazing character because of how gifted she was in the Force, and her ability to adapt to situations so quickly. Jyn is an awesome lead because she has NO Force abilities and STILL stood up to be brave in the face of a near suicidal mission. That battle was one of the most intense in the entire franchise, and even though clearly scared, we saw Jyn and everyone else do what they set out to do. Honestly, it brings a tear to my eye and it should yours too. Don't give me that toxic masculinity crap, I KNOW you cried too!!!

I only have a few gripes in a-minor to add to this whole thing. The first is involving the CGI characters. While I do applaud the efforts of the team who put both Tarkin and Leia's likenesses out there to help connect the movies, it did admittedly feel a little weird despite. I'm not exactly sure if I could even come up with a better solution, or if I'm just talking out of my ass (that was a joke, I ALWAYS do that! :D ). I started to say it above, but I'll spell it out more here since you're all typical Americans who like it that way: The characterizations were severely lacking for most of the main cast. Again, I don't think this could have really been helped though. I just don't think there was any way they could have introduced a whole new cast that large and somehow made us care about them all by the end. Most people already felt the film was moving at a snail's pace in the first half (including actual snails, who proceeded to compliment the pacing and said they didn't understand what everyone else's problem was). The final gripe I have may seem silly to some, but this is kind of important... In Force Awakens, we finally did away with that ridiculous Hollywood trope of the female protagonist having to be saved by a male character, regardless of how strong they were. In Rogue One... it came right back at us again. Like, what the hell, people!? You couldn't let Jyn have some justice for her mother's death at the end? Nooooo, you had to make Cassian come back and save her at the last second instead. Ugh. Come the hell on!!! *mumble grumble wumble*

Phew, alright. I'm okay now... As I was saying, before the whiny entitled nerd rant, this is an amazing movie, despite the flaws in it! If you are a true Star Wars fan, you will walk out of that theater energized and filled with, dare I say it..., HOPE!!! Despite the slower first half, things pick up so well afterward that you won't even notice there was a problem. Jyn is awesome and a worthy lead role, Vader is badder than ever, and the whole thing just felt so... STAR WARS-Y all the way through, that it's impossible for me not to still recommend it. This is now permanent Star Wars cannon and it is more than worthy of it. Rogue One had no business turning out this well, but it did, so deal with it, and nerd out with me about it already!!!

8.5 Uses Of "I've Got A Bad Feeling About This" Out Of 10

People who complained that The Force Awakens was too derivative of the classic Star Wars movies can finally shut the hell up! This is the "different" movie you asked for and it rocked like Freddie Mercury singing "We Will Rock You," while riding Darth Vader's shoulders! I'll see you all again to talk about this stuff next year. In the meantime, I'll go back into my "2016 sucks" brooding hole with Kylo Ren, who I hear specializes in that area. Toodles!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deadpool's Magical Mystical Movie Review Of Doctor Strange (2016)!!! (Spoiler-Free, Because That's How I Roll)

Holy crap, people!!! How long has it been since Uncle D has sat down with you and told you a story? No, I don't remember when the last Marvel movie came out either. And yeah, I admit I skipped out on reviewing Suicide Squad. I mainly blame Justin though. (That freaking guy. Quitting his last job and getting all dramatic about the "emotional damage" it caused him. Wah wah, Justin! Get another job you damn hippy wannabe! Love you.)

You would think that the Marvel movies would be getting stale by this point. Sales figures have yielded mixed results with that, but overall it's still been PRETTY DAMN GOOD considering this is now the FOURTEENTH effing Marvel movie and Phase III is only just getting its feet wet. (I keep telling that asshole to just JUMP in the pool, so it'll be less cold, but I digress...) These movies are showing no signs of stopping, and somehow, we're still crossing territories we never have (or even thought we would have) before. Honestly, if I told you fifteen years ago that we'd be seeing a movie about the origins of the 'Sorcerer Supreme' someday, would you have believed me? Don't say you would! You're lying! You are the worst liar, I swear.

So what IS Doctor Strange all about? Tough cookie to describe, but I'll munch into this one head first (... *much*). Stephen Strange is a very famous doctor, who performs all kinds of incredible surgeries with his hands that he spends way too much time washing and staring at creepily. One day, he gets into an accident that HE caused, damaging the beautiful miracle surgery hands, and taking away their mint condition status. He looks for options to get his hands (that he can no longer creepily stare at the same way) back to normal, and eventually comes across people on another continent, who he believes can help him heal. Little did he realize what he would really get himself into...

You may have noticed my asshole-ish tone when describing Strange's character. (More asshole-ish than usual, I mean!) Well, there's kind of a reason for that. Are you ready for this bombshell to drop? Here it is... :

Stephen Strange is arguably a bigger asshole than Tony Stark.

... I'll give you all a minute to really process that.

No, I'm serious. This guy is completely egotistical to the point of madness, he's rich as f$%k, he only saves people he considers to be "worthy of his time," has no concern for other's well-being unless it affects his status, has a bad-ass collection of watches and a nice car that I'm admittedly completely jealous of, never accepts responsibility for his actions (even when told he's about to rip the entire time/space continuum apart!), and did I mention the creepy hand-washing thing!? I'm not going to lie to you all. I had a very hard time feeling any shred of sympathy for this guy. I guess you could say this is a reflection of how good an actor that Benedict Cumberbatch truly is? I mean, the guy also played Sherlock, and was a major asshole in that too. Huh...

(Seriously, I love Cumberbatch as an actor, so don't even think about flaming me after this. You know I know who you are...)

The pacing of the movie is a bit uneven, but I think that's one of the things I ended up liking about it the most (outside of the effects of course, which I am SO going to devote an entire paragraph to later!). It's no secret that the Marvel movies have all followed a very strict formula. If you didn't already realize this until now, and I've somehow ruined your entire love of the series, leading you to question what else society's been keeping from you, then I'm sorry, but also glad to hear you're taking your first steps! With that said, I can finally state that some of the strict/boring setup of the previous movies is finally starting to fade a bit. The majority of this movie actually does focus on character development and world building, more than "boom boom, whirly boom boom!" Not to say there isn't a lot of spectacular "whirly boom boom" to go with it, but I think you can see where I'm going with this. Instead of having a fine line between good and evil, we actually see two groups very mixed in thoughts and goals, as well as having their beliefs be constantly questioned. It's a beautiful thing that I'm sure Neil deGrasse Tyson would very much approve of (even though he probably doesn't appreciate the actual science of the movie as much. Ugh, I can feel you judging me from here, Neil. Back off with your actual scientific facts!!! (But seriously, can I call you Neil?) (Wow, I've used a lot of brackets in this paragraph...)).

Are you ready for the effects paragraph? HERE is the effects paragraph!!!... In the next one.

... OMG those effects tho!!! I am usually the first pretentious dick to criticize overuse of CGI in movies, to the point where there's no imagination to the product, but this yielded a much better result and actually gave me some hope for the technology. The parts of it that look cheesy are much fewer and farther between. Everything else is absolutely dreamlike. Buildings opening up and closing/flipping sideways and upside-down like it ain't no thang! Journeys into multiple astral planes and universes. It's just so damn pretty, that you can't NOT talk about it. If this is a sign of future CGI use in movies, I may actually be on board again. (I can also finally stop saying the last Mad Max movie was the only thing to get CGI right, even if for totally different reasons. HOO-HAH!)

This is also a pretty small thing to mention (to the point where Ant-Man would probably notice it first), but this may be the first time I left the theater actually humming and remembering a Marvel movie's soundtrack!!! Seriously, have you EVER done that with a Marvel movie before? Because I sure as hell didn't, and I don't remember anyone else saying they did either, so it must be true!

Is this the greatest Marvel movie ever made? Lol, nope. Not even close. It's one thing to have Strange's character evolve as far as it did, but... He's still an ass. He mainly got where he did from reading and learning (admittedly due to his photographic memory), and not from evolving as a person so much. That's not to say he didn't have ANY evolution whatsoever, but... damn. Wong put it perfectly when he said "... But you've still got much to learn." It's cool that they're obviously building this up so that Strange's character can grow even more, but what are we actually teaching the people who watched this movie in the meantime? Without going into direct spoilers, the "heroes" of the movie only won their fight with the "villains" by tapping into dark arts they were not supposed to, due to the risk of damaging the entire time-space continuum! And this was only considered after a certain someone's master was caught doing the same thing (whether for a just purpose or not). So... do whatever horrible means necessary to win a fight? Is that the message? I got nothing there.

There was also a huge (understandable) controversy over who was chosen to play Strange's teacher in the movie. While I am still kind of surprised over who the movie execs picked as well, I won't pretend that Tilda Swinton did a bad job with the performance either. She kicked a lot of butt in fact! But it's... still weird. I hope I can get some more clarity on that decision at some point. Other actors/actresses felt underused in their roles here; the most obvious being Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo. He's really a mix of different comic book personalities into one, but that wasn't the issue here. Hell, I liked the fact that he wasn't just a straight up "muahahahaha evil" guy. But his character didn't get enough time to shine. We still only barely scratched the surface while learning about his motivations. Honestly, if the "villain" didn't go around and kill anyone in this movie, you'd have questioned whether anyone could consider him a villain character at all. I guess I can't hate on this too much, since it obviously leads to awesome winding paragraphs like this, where I let my full inner-nerd out, but I'd have still liked to see a lot more of this. Hopefully, now that the origins are out of the way, we can jump right into things next time!

8 uses of "Dormammu, I've come to bargain!" out of 10

Sorry to get all "movie critic" on yer butts, but I really did have a lot of opinions on this one. That's a good thing though, right? Can I get an actual job doing this yet, so I can STOP shooting things!??? No? Oh, okay... See you next time, true believers!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Book Review: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

I'll begin this review with a confession: As much of a diehard fan as I am of Douglas Adams' 'Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' series of books, I have never really developed an interest in reading the two Dirk Gently novels until recently. It's strange too, because The Hitchhiker novels were some of my favorite books of all time back when I had first read them (which I would still gladly include in my top 10 now). You would think I'd have been more curious to delve into these at the time! I have another confession to make: What gave me the motivation to finally pick it up, was the information I had heard and seen regarding the new TV series on BBC America (currently airing as I type this). It looked like it could be a lot of fun, and was something I felt immediately curious over. The week before it aired, I ended up finding a paperback copy of the first book at a library sale, and figured I could hardly go wrong for the $.50 it cost me. Imagine my surprise to find out that it has almost nothing in common with BBC's new series (so far)! But that's not the point here, as this blog is about the novel, and not the TV show.

I'm going to try as best I can not to come off as if I'm jumping from place to place during this review, but I have a feeling it will be difficult to do, since the book itself is written in such a style. The first few chapters merely give us information about the setting, with some clues about what we're even supposed to be taking in at this point. Dirk? We don't even hear a mention of his name until the end of chapter 4. Sounds odd, yes? Trust me when I say you don't even know the half of it. We're introduced to multiple characters (such as The Electric Monk, Richard, Gordon, Reg, and others) with seemingly no connection to each other. Cue Dirk (also known as Svlad Cjelli), who comes in to somehow bring it all together and solve a murder. This isn't done by any typical means however, as this is a holistic detective agency, meaning that Dirk believes in the "interconnectedness" of all things in the universe. He simply can't be bothered by trivial matters, such as physical evidence, to solve a case.

It's hard to look back on this book and recall when it all actually started to come together and make even a semblance of sense. Sure, there are plenty of clues that the reader can pick up on and figure out on their own, but there are so many other strange and wacky plot points to throw you off track, it's actually remarkable. Because of this confusing nature, I admit it was a bit difficult to stay interested during the first quarter or so of the book. It reminded me of how confused I was the first time I read Frank Herbert's "Dune," not being able to understand the terminology being thrown at me right in the first chapter.

Like "Dune" however, I am very glad I stuck with this book all the way to the end. When things finally did begin to come together, it was almost impossible to put down. I can attest to this, due to the fact that I stayed up until about 4 AM to read the last quarter of it in one sitting. (Honestly, when your book consists of plot twists involving ghosts, time travel, and the secrets of the very universe itself, who can say no!?)

It's easy to compare Dirk's character to that of Shelock Holmes and The Doctor from Doctor Who, the latter in particular. This isn't a coincidence, as Adams actually came up with this idea for Dirk Gently during his time writing for Doctor Who. If you were to look up the serials "City Of Death" and more importantly, the cancelled "Shada," then you would likely notice multiple similarities (which I will not post here at the risk of spoiling any major plot points in this book). I would argue that Dirk is nuttier than both Sherlock and The Doctor put together, and I do not say that lightly. This is a man that made trips to other continents and added it to a woman's bill, while claiming it was all in the name of finding her lost cat!

What really makes this disjointed novel still work in the end is Douglas Adams' brilliant use of wit and humor. If anyone can pull off something as utterly ridiculous as this story, and still make it feel worth your while, it's Adams. I found myself rethinking old scientific concepts that I had always taken for granted growing up, and caught myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It was also a relief to see that none of the chapters or paragraphs in this book were wasted. Everything really WAS connected and it made the remainder of the read far more satisfying. I am also tempted to re-read it now, and to go in with a completely different mindset to the earlier chapters that confused me so much the first time around.

This is far from a perfect book (and I admit, I have a hard time recommending it to everyone, due to the confusing and fragmented nature of the storytelling as a whole), but any fan of Hitchhiker's Guide and the remainder of Adams' work owes it to themselves to give "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" a try. Even with the abrupt and arguably anticlimactic ending, I never felt that my time reading this was wasted in any way. If you have never read any of Adams' other work before, I would suggest starting with Hitchhiker's Guide (as so many already have) and going from there if you decide you want more of that same kind of charm. Whether or not the new TV series succeeds, this book is not to be missed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thoughts On A Video Game Con (2016)

With fond memories of the previous year, I was more than happy to attend A Video Game Con as a panelist once again. I was also glad to see it getting a second year, as not only did I enjoy the events, but I also reconnected with many friends (as well as gained many new ones) in the process. Did it hold up against its promising first year, especially with even larger special events planned??? Read below to find out!!!

The first thing my friend Willie and I noticed, was that the structure of the con was more or less the same, but with some slight tweaks that we felt made the event even better. For one thing, the hallway to the right of the entrance was no longer cramped with vendor tables. This allowed everyone to easily walk through and not feel as claustrophobic as the previous year. Even more important; the parking was clearly laid out this year with a helpful map, so that no one would have to worry about finding spaces. Two MAJOR plusses!

Unlike the previous year, my Streaming 101 panel was not scheduled until 3:00, so my friend and I had time to look around in the dealer/vendor's room first. Although it wasn't the largest vendor selection ever, I can honestly say that it was by far most comprehensive group of gaming vendors I've ever seen (and I'm including big conventions like New York Comic Con when I say this)! No matter what your preference (NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Famicom, Super Famicom, Playstation 1-4, Xbox-Xbox ONE, etc.), just about everything you could imagine was there in some way, shape, or form. I even remember spotting some of the old LCD handheld games that I played as a child.

I made some purchases at the vendors, but tried not to go too nuts (as it's very easy to do over there!). I made out with copies of Tetris, Super Mario Brothers 3, and The Legend of Zelda (gold cartridge) for the NES. I also got a nice used copy of Parasite Eve, which I have played many times before, but never owned previously. I held back on many other things, and decided I'd sleep on a few other items I was thinking about.

After getting lunch from the awesome truck right outside the building, my friend and I went into the arcade/stage room to check out what had been set up. Willie, his friend Brian, and I all teamed up to win The Simpsons Arcade Game together, and even got to enter our initials in the high score column! I also got to meet Pat Contri (known as Pat The NES Punk on YouTube). He was selling copies of his new book, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide To The NES Library. When I say this thing was a giant tome of a book, I mean it was a GIANT TOME of a book! It contains over 450 pages with titles, illustrations, and descriptions of over 750 NES games. It was well worth the price, and Pat was kind enough to sign my copy for me. I lucked out too, as I believe the book sold out not long after.

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After glancing around the freeplay room and signing in to confirm I was still doing a panel (thanks for pointing that out to me before it was too late, Keith!), my friend and I made our way to Panel Room 2 for setting up. Thankfully, unlike last year, we had a laptop that was actually working right (thanks to Willie!). I was also thrilled to see more people come into the panel than last year. For those who don't know, my panel last year was literally one of the first two of the entire convention, starting at 10:00 AM. Almost no one was even in the building yet by that time, and people were still waiting in line to even get inside! On top of that, there were numerous technical issues we had when trying to set up. So to make a long story short again, I was ECSTATIC to have my panel start a bit later, as well as have a bigger audience this time around.

As the name states, the point of my panel was to both introduce the concept of streaming video games to others, and educate them on how they can get started on this fun and exciting hobby. I'm happy to say things seemed to go pretty well! For one thing, there were no laptop issues to speak of, as the one my friend lent me didn't overheat or slow down at any point. The audience also really seemed intrigued and entertained by the things I was saying. It was a great sign that so many wanted to take my business card, including the people who had to leave before the panel had ended. I even recognized a girl who came to my JRPG panel the previous year, which meant I couldn't have performed too badly, right? The highlight of the entire panel for me, was finishing up the first video of one of my funny short clips and asking if they wanted to see more, only to hear cheering of "YEAH!" and clapping in reply. I left things feeling accomplished, and more like I could finally just breathe and enjoy the convention.

The rest of the day was mostly a mix of walking around more, playing more freeplay games, and finding and talking with more friends and staff. I also have to give a shout out to Paul of Retrogames for taking the time to talk with me about the ins and outs of starting a small business. It's all advice I will absolutely take to heart, and appreciate the brutal honesty that I know I needed to hear.

We finished the day by going to two late night (18+) panels, "Anime Parliament" and "AHH! Video Game Cartoons," both of which were extremely funny and entertaining. I even participated in a game during the latter panel, where we had to try and fill in the blanks to sentences with something funny/dirty to win candy. Good stuff! And I definitely slept extremely well that night, since I was so tired from all the chaos.

Despite everything I listed above, it was the second day of the convention where the "real" main events took place! On one hand, we had The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) as the guest of honor, as well as Bootsy and Kyle Justin. On the other, we had the recently discovered Playstation/Nintendo prototype system that was originally believed to be an old folktale on the Internet. Needless to say, it was quite a lineup!

Since my friend and I had to come extremely early in order to get one of our volunteer friends to the convention before it opened, we were able to get inside pretty quickly once 9:30 hit. Since there was a decent amount of time before lining up for AVGN even began, we went back to the dealer's room once again. I finally made a purchase I had been on the fence about since the day before (partly because I didn't even know the device existed until said day!). The HoneyBee Gold is a converter piece that allows your NES to play original Japanese Famicom games on it. How does this work? Well, it's all in the number of pins! NES cartridges have 72 pins, while Famicom cartridges have 60. This converter is basically a middleman that you plug a Famicom cartridge into (similar to a Game Genie). After that, you're good to go! It's considered the most sought-after type of converter, so I pretty much had to get it. In the process, this has now opened me up to a whole world of gaming from Japan that I never even imagined myself collecting in the past. The good news is that most Famicom games are actually cheaper than their NES counterparts, as well as many of the Japan-only releases.

Following this, I went with my friend to a booth that had all kinds of Famicom games in it. We pretty much picked the entire counter apart. Even the titles in full Japanese, we were usually able to recognize, and kept calling the names of each one out as we realized. We apparently shocked one of the guys behind the counter, because he looked at both of us (almost with his jaw open) and said "Wow... You guys know your stuff!!!" I guess he had a harder time figuring out what he had before putting it up for sale. I ended up getting the first Saint Seiya title for the console, "Saint Seiya: Ougon Densetsu Kanketsu Hen." Whether it's good or not, I always remember the first games I purchase on each system, and this one will be no exception when I finally get to try it.

Once we went to go line up for The Angry Video Game Nerd, we were already pretty far back, as it went all the way out the building! Luckily, we met a lot of new friends in the line and we helped each other pass the time. Finally getting up to the front was a great feeling. Unlike most conventions, where you are rushed out as soon as your autograph or photo op is complete, this was an actual meet and greet. I chatted with him about as much as I could think to mention at the time. I actually got him to laugh pretty hard at one point too, saying something along the lines of "I find it hilarious how you did this as a persona, while it ended up attracting other imitators, who were actually legitimately angry people! They never realized that they were really the punch line all along!" He said he had never heard it described that way before, but said it had a ring of truth to it and thanked me for coming up with it. We also took a picture, making the trademark angry face he's become so known for. He was a very down-to-Earth guy and it was very nice talking with him.

The fun wasn't over yet, however! It was time to check out the Playstation/Nintendo console prototype. As a gamer, I must confess, it was incredible seeing this device up close. There is no way to truly describe seeing a controller with the Super Nintendo setup, and a Sony Playstation logo on the front (while the Nintendo logo was on the back)! I tried to take pictures of the console and its ports (though some pictures came out a bit blurry unfortunately). I am very grateful to everyone who made it possible for us to see this prototype. It added a special kind of experience that I've never quite seen at a convention before (including both big and local events).

The remainder of the consisted of walking around, playing more games in freeplay (such as Mega Man 3, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, and others), and talking with more people. I was also thrilled to see my friend Jeffery win the cosplay contest with a new friend he had literally just met the day before! Since the convention closed earlier on its second day, there wasn't much left to do other than say goodbye to everyone and look forward to next year.

Although brief (even with the second day added), this convention left me with a lot to think about. It's been a dream of mine to start my own business, as well as run a convention, and the things I learned left me with more knowledge on the subjects. Unfortunately, it also left me with a bit of dread. Obviously, not all news regarding these types of ventures are going to be good news. There's a serious amount of sacrifice one has to make in order to make their dreams possible, and it's not hard to be pulled back by it sometimes. Make no mistake, however. I will not give up, and I will not stop trying, ever. That much I can promise.

I'd like to thank all of my friends who helped make this event a possibility for us once again. Paul, Nicole, Coryn, Anthony, Cathryn, Keith (who I always manage to look like an idiot in front of), Elyse, Kathryn, etc., you are wonderful and I wish you all the best. To all my new friends and old, I look forward to connecting with you all again soon as well. It's always a real joy to connect with people over similar passions, and I can't wait to do it all again. See you next year, fellow gamers!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Classic Cinema: Rashōmon (1950)

It was only a matter of time before I got into an Akira Kurosawa movie for this classic film blog, and mark my words; this will certainly not be the last (as The Hidden Fortress, The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and many others will likely reach this blog someday). There is no simple way to describe the impact that Akira Kurosawa's directing had on the world (let alone all of Japan). A large amount of the movies and TV shows you enjoy today actually exist due to said influence. Whether it's through plot direction or film technique, you can usually find Kurosawa's name at the end of the rainbow. As with my previous entry, I'll be using this post to describe both the chosen movie, and what makes it so historically relevant. The film I've chosen to discuss for this blog is Rashōmon, the first movie of Kurosawa's to reach international acclaim, including the United States after its release in 1950. It was based on a short story called "In The Grove."

Rashōmon tells the story of multiple characters involved in a murder scene. Each person involved (a samurai, his wife, a bandit named Tajōmaru, and a woodcutter) tells their version of the story to the court. But there lies a grave issue: each account of what happened is completely different from the last! Just as you believe you are finally getting to the bottom of the story, you hear another person tell a tale that completely contradicts the previous one.

The movie begins with a woodcutter and a priest, sitting under the Rashōmon city gate and waiting for a heavy rain to pass. Another man comes out of the rain to join them, and tries to determine why the two look so perplexed. They each begin to explain of horrible events to which they are still trying to make sense of. The woodcutter then begins to tell his story, oh how he was walking through a forest with an axe in hand. After many careful and interesting camera maneuvers to make us truly feel isolated in this forest with him, he spots a dead body and immediately runs away in fear, before telling the courts of what he saw. Or at least, that's what we're lead to believe...

The first account we hear of is that of Tajōmaru (the bandit), who saw a samurai man and his wife travelling by, and immediately fell for the woman after gazing at her. He advised he laid out a trap to lure the man away, in order to steal his wife and avoid having to kill the man. He tied up the samurai and led his wife to them, where she was allegedly "seduced" by the bandit. The wife then demanded that one of them must die, so that she would not have to live with the shame of two men knowing of her "dishonor." The bandit's plan obviously went sour by this point, resulting in the two of them having to sword fight, and the wife running away without a trace after also trying to fight back with a dagger. The bandit claimed responsibility for killing the samurai and raping his wife.

We then hear the story from the samurai's wife, and the movie officially gets more confusing from this point forward. Her story contradicts the bandit's in many ways, with the sole exception of the samurai being killed. She states that after the bandit raped her, he left temporarily. Her husband simply stared at her coldly, and when she freed him and begged him to kill her in order to no longer live with the shame, he simply continued to stare. She claimed to be so disturbed by this, that she fainted, only to wake up and find her husband dead. Her dagger was found in his chest, leading us to now believe that she killed the samurai.

To make things even more peculiar, we then hear the story of the deceased samurai. How? Well, a medium is performed, in order to allow the dead samurai to speak on his behalf. For those who don't know, a medium is a practice that is performed in order for people to communicate or mediate with the dead. This process is almost casually used in order for us to hear of the samurai's account. Once again, we hear a completely different story. After Tajōmaru raped the samurai's wife, he asked her to come with him. She agreed, but only on the premise that he killed her husband, so that she would not have to live with the shame of having been with two men. Tajōmaru was shocked by this request and hesitated for a bit, before grabbing the wife, and giving the samurai a choice: either he lets her go or kills her. The samurai responded with the now famous line "For these words alone, I was ready to pardon his crime." The wife ran away, and the bandit followed with chase. He eventually gave up and came back to the samurai, setting him free. The samurai then killed himself with the dagger mentioned in the bandit's account of the story. The dagger was also apparently removed from his chest by someone else afterward.

We now return to the Rashōmon gate, with the three men pondering over this peculiar situation. The woodcutter begins to lose patience and shouts that all three stories are incorrect. He then reveals that he did indeed see the whole thing, but didn't want to get involved.

In the woodcutter's account of the story, Tajōmaru had tied up the samurai and begged his wife to join and marry him. She instead proceeded to freeing her husband. In a strange twist, the samurai refused to fight Tajōmaru, saying that he had no desire to risk his life for her. The wife chastised them both, saying they were not real men, and heavily pressured both of them into fighting. Both men were completely scared, but eventually began fighting. The fight, according to the woodcutter, was far more imbalanced and messy. They were extremely nervous, making careless swings and rolling around constantly. The fight resulted in Tajōmaru winning by a stroke of luck, though it could have easily gone the other way. The samurai begged for his life before Tajōmaru finished him off, and the wife ran away in fear.

The discussion between the three men is interrupted by the sudden sound of a baby crying. They run to the other side of the gate and find it there, with a kimono and amulet. The visiting man takes the kimono and amulet, receiving criticism from the woodcutter for stealing from an abandoned baby. The commoner immediately hits back, revealing that he figured out the missing dagger was in fact stolen by the woodcutter, and that he was "a bandit calling another a bandit." He leaves the woodcutter and priest, saying that all men are motivated by self-interest, and nothing more.

In the final moments of the film, the priest loses just about all hope for humanity. The woodcutter reaches for the baby, before the priest pulls back out of suspicion. The woodcutter explains to the priest that he already has six children, and that one more wouldn't be a big deal to him. At this moment, the priest then realizes that the woodcutter stole the dagger in order to help provide for his family. He advises that his faith in humanity is restored again, and hands the baby to the woodcutter. The rain finally stops and the woodcutter walks home with his new child in hand.

Although it may not be clear in my description of the film above; this movie does not actually contain a large amount of dialogue. The filming was meant to carry the story along just as much, if not more than the dialogue that complimented it. Kurosawa was heavily influenced by silent films, and it shows here. Many would argue that taking the minimalist approach to filming actually increased the impact of this story, rather than hindering it. There were no expensive set pieces to be seen; just forest, the Rashōmon gate, and the courts (of which we never actually heard the judges speak at any point).

Filming technique has always been a strong part of Kurosawa's magic, and this is great movie to point it out with. Kurosawa was said to be one of (if not the) first directors to point the camera straight at the sun to craft a scene with. Every shot taken in the forest is made to give us the feeling that we're truly in a wide-open area, while still making us uneasy; as if we are being watched at the same time.

What of course makes this story interesting more than any other factor, is the conflicting perspectives of the people telling their accounts of the story. Even after hearing the woodcutter's version of the situation, we are never really told if any of these accounts were right or wrong. Some may have been completely right, completely wrong, or partially right, and we'll honestly never know. That is left for the viewer to surmise on their own, and to this day, there is no real answer. I watched an informative interview with Robert Altman (of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, MASH, Nashville, and numerous others), who described another important aspect this movie had on future films. He pointed out that up to that point, we simply told ourselves to believe everything we saw onscreen. This film simply threw that concept out the window, and left us completely vulnerable and confused.

Have you ever seen a movie or TV show, in which the characters involved are trying to resolve some type of mystery by describing conflicting accounts of a situation? Rashōmon is the reason this type of storytelling even exists in film, and yet, the movie still makes it feel like a fresh concept, even now. It is such an iconic film, that the term " Rashōmon effect" is actually used to describe this very concept today.

It's easy to recommend Akira Kurosawa's works to film-lovers or those aspiring to get into classic cinema, but naming which films are the most essential can sometimes be a bit more difficult for enthusiasts. I can say with full confidence that this is not one of those cases however, as it universally seen as one of the most important works to come out of one of the most important directors in film history. In future blogs, I will be happy to talk more about Kurosawa's continued inspiration on Western cinema.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry, where we'll be taking things back a bit and going into one of my other favorite directors of all time, Fritz Lang, and his classic silent film, Metropolis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thoughts On Garden State Comic Fest (2016)

To some readers, it may seem like all I ever do is go to different conventions across the East Coast every other week. To be honest with you, I don't think I'd mind if that were the case! While the idea of starting my own convention is still a priority in the future, I plan to take in as much as I can from other local events. So this weekend, my friend and I attended Garden State Comic Fest in Morristown, NJ. Like East Coast Comic Con, Garden State Comic Fest is advertised as a comic-focused convention, keeping the spirit of what a "Comic Con" was always meant to be. How did this one stack up against the rest?

Something I've always loved about the smaller conventions, is the idea that there is usually less ground to cover, and more time to simply take in what's around you. I'm happy to say this event is no exception to that rule. Being a sports arena, two large rooms were taken full advantage of (one actually being a hockey rink!), and a large hallway to keep it all together. Not during any point did it feel too crowded, or like there was a lack of space anywhere. It was also nice that they had a food counter in the large hallway, so you never had to go too far.

The first person I saw coming in was Paul of A Video Game Con. He had a great table set up, with two TVs and classic NES and Sega Genesis games on each. He told me that one of the best parts of the day for him, was seeing all the young kids who never grew up on these types of games, actually come up and learn how to play them for the first time. I wished him the best of luck and told him I can't wait for his event come September. I also hope they let me do my two panels again this year!

My friend and I figured that Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) would be one of the first people we should head to, since his line was bound to be long. But we decided to start with the "Heroes Room" first, mainly because we didn't actually look at the map yet, and just kind of wanted to get the law of the land first. Right as we came in, there were comic and action figure vendors all over! This was also perfect, since there were a few comics/graphic novels I actually wanted to get for the sole purpose of getting them signed by some of the guests. (More on that later.)

The first person we came across when walking up the center isle was none other than Bob Camp, co-creator of The Ren and Stimpy show! Two minutes of talking with this man had me laughing just as much as when I first watched the cartoon as a toddler (even though looking back, that show was definitely NOT appropriate for children!). When I took a picture with him, he shouted "Everyone say shiiiiiit," causing us all to laugh pretty hard. He then followed that up by saying "See, that gets a genuine smile out of people; not like that fake stuff." Too true, Bob. Too true.

While wandering around (and seeing what was quite possibly the greatest Hulkbuster cosplay of all time), I also stopped by Rags Morales' booth to get him to sign my copies of Action Comics #1 (New 52) and the Identity Crisis graphic novel. He was happy to do so. I also saw Scott Hanna again, but I didn't have anything for him to sign this time, unfortunately. He's come to quite a few local conventions though, and I'm sure I'll have more opportunities to chat with him again in the future.

While I already had some things ready for Kevin Eastman to sign, I didn't have everything I wanted for Walt and Louise Simonson. This was especially true in Walt's case, as I admit I have never actually owned any of his run on Thor in the past. For Louise, I had a copy of Web of Spider-Man #1, Superman #75 (Vol. 2), and The Death of Superman graphic novel. Since she was also the creator of the X-Men villain Apocalypse, I just knew I'd have to get something X-Men-related for her as well. Thankfully, I managed to find a copy of X-Factor #6 at one of the dealer's booths (which was not only her first issue as writer for X-Factor, but the first full appearance of Apocalypse himself!). After finishing up exploring the "Heroes Room" for now, my friend and I went into the "Villains Room" to check out the other side (and finally get over to Kevin Eastman!). Before moving too far forward, I managed to find a copy of the graphic novel "Thor by Walter Simonson - Volume 1" at another booth. While it's not quite the same as having any issues of his (particularly his first Thor issue, #337), I figured it was at least something.

After this, my friend and I finally decided to stop playing around and locate Kevin Eastman's booth. I was afraid the line would be ridiculous by that point, and I was pretty much right... From about 11 AM to 12:45 PM, we waited to get to the front. The line got so large that con staff actually had to break it off and told everyone else to come back after 2 PM. Kevin Eastman's method for signings was a bit more creative than what I'm used to seeing creators do. The first item you brought up to him was free, while any after that were an additional $20. This was eerily perfect, as I had only brought two items with me (my Ultimate Black & White Collection Vol.1 graphic novel, and the GameStop reprinting of issue #1), and my friend was kind enough to stand in line with me to hand Kevin the second. I can honestly say the wait was well worth it. Kevin was an awesome guy to talk to, and it felt like he had been a friend of mine for years. I'd love to have that kind of charisma with fans of my own someday.

I looked around the "Villains Room" a little more after this, and got Scott Lobdell to sign my copy of Astonishing X-Men #1 (the first issue in the Age of Apocalypse crossover, to which he was a major driving force). I also got Tom Palmer to sign my copy of Kick-Ass #1 (to which he was the inker). We actually had a good talk about the impact of both the comic and the movie, and how the first film was almost exactly like the comic for about the first half or so. We also laughed about how Mark Millar always seems to try and push the (controversial) bar a little more with every major comic he puts out.

Before heading back to the main hallway for some lunch, I met up with Petterson Oliveira, one of the recent graduates from The Kubert School, who I met with some other students at a Barnes and Noble a few months back. I really do hope he becomes successful, as his Black Panther and Batman art are more than capable. It was great seeing him again.

Instead of being smart and just getting lunch at that time (I think it was almost 1 PM), I went back to the Heroes Room because my friend and I both found out where Walt and Louise Simonson would be (after finally taking a long overdue look at the convention map!). We figured it couldn't possibly take as long a time as Kevin Eastman's line did, so there was no need to worry. I also learned that I really need to stop assuming things...

Although Walt and Louise Simonson were not actually at their table (likely getting lunch by that point), there were already people lined up, awaiting their return. My friend and I figured we'd join in, since they couldn't possibly stay gone for too long of a time. I started to get a look of dread, as I noticed people with ridiculously large stacks of comics in front of us (including one guy who literally had three boxes of comics stacked on top of each other!). It took almost another 20 minutes before the two came back, and they were both really polite from the second they started talking with all of us.

Walt actually went through all parts of the line in order to tell people he'd only be doing a limited number of sketches for free, in order to keep the line moving. Once again, I have to admit both of them were well worth the wait! Walt kept telling stories about almost everything that people were bringing up to sign, and he was doing all kinds of sketches (for characters like Thor and Apocalypse). I had him draw one of Apocalypse for me as well, and took a great picture with the both of them. Talking with the two of them had to be one of the biggest highlights of the entire convention to me, simply because they were both so adorable together. It was like talking with my parents (if my parents were comic book writers and artists of course!).

After all of this, my friends and I FINALLY proceeded to get lunch, and I managed to somehow stay alive up to that point. As I was chugging down the coffee I had purchased, I had a good laugh at watching Robert Bruce (of Comic Book Men fame) walk up to the one of the arcade machines (with two really large machine guns), and just play the hell out of it like it was no big deal. After meeting him at The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, my reaction evolved from what would have been "Haha, that's really random!" to "Yeah... he would do that!" I didn't even have to talk with him in order to be entertained.

Wandering around again, it was pretty much impossible to not notice the huge line over by Jim Steranko's booth. He was probably the biggest hit of the convention, next to Kevin Eastman. I felt a bit lousy, as I didn't have any books that Jim put out. You could say the comics he made were "before my time" and therefore, harder for me to track down. I was happy to find a variant cover that Jim made for the recent Captain America reboot, and purchased that at another booth, in order to go bring it over to get signed. The man at the counter actually showed me some other comics that Jim made (mostly from his "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D." series) for purchase. For some reason, I was just happy with the simple variant cover, recent as it was.

So with my Cap #1 variant in hand, I walked back to Jim's booth for the signing. I could see he was having long, deep discussions with a lot of the people coming up to him. Even though this caused me to wait longer, I couldn't help but find it really cool that Jim was taking the time to really talk with his fans, and not just rush them all away. As I was just getting up to the front of the line, some men walk over with Joe Caramonga, the letterer of the very Cap issue I was bringing up for Jim! They were asking Jim to give Joe one of his sharpies to sign with, and they came up with the idea of having Joe sign in blue, while Jim's signature was in red sharpie. This kind of added to the "red, white, and blue" effect of the cover. I asked Joe if he could sign my comic that way too, since he was already over here. All three of us started making jokes like "Who's booth is this again!?" After that, I finally got to talk to Jim briefly. He had an air of confidence in both himself and his fans that I really admired. He also had one of the most unique handshakes I think I've ever seen. Truly a class act, and I won't soon forget him.

By this point, it was already pretty late in the day, and less than an hour before the con would close up. I tried searching around for a copy of Thor #337, in the hopes of getting it back to Walt for one more signature. But it wasn't meant to be. Almost every booth my friend and I searched through didn't have any copies left, and the one that did was selling it for $50, which is far more than most would consider it to be worth. We were just about ready to leave...

Just as we both checked around the Heroes Room one more time for anything we might have missed, we suddenly noticed Louise Simonson was walking right up to a booth with steampunk animal art creations. The girl at the counter asked me and my friend if she was famous, because she "seemed like she was." I kind of laughed and explained, since Louise was too polite. After that, Louise and I actually had a short conversation. I had told her about how I was trying to make a convention of my own, and how I'd be lucky to afford guests like themselves someday if so. She laughed at my mention of cost to book them, and said "Oh, we're actually pretty cheap, so no worries there." She also gave me some suggestions about starting a convention, based on her and her husband's past experiences with them. It was a talk I will take with me forever, and it only makes me even more hopeful about this convention idea of mine really coming to life!

Overall, even with the amount of time I had to wait in line to meet some of the guests, I left this convention with a lot of positive feelings, and couldn't deny all of the fun I still had along the way. I guess this means I've got yet another convention to visit every year! Already looking forward to the next!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Classic Cinema: A Trip To The Moon (1902)

I thought for a good long while about what film I should choose for the first entry of this new classic cinema blog. I must have looked at dozens of movies from multiple decades before deciding. But in the end, there was only one clear choice: The iconic French film "Le Voyage dans la Lune," also known in the US as "A Trip to the Moon."

For those who are unfamiliar with Georges Méliès and his large body of work, I am about to open your eyes to something wonderful. Film really began around the mid-to-late 1800's, where multiple technologies were being developed and honed. Méliès began his film career by modifying an Animatograph (a projector), so it would work as a camera. He was no stranger to stage and theater, to which he loved dearly. He was also an enthusiast of creating magic and illusions for his audiences. This love would also serve to inspire all of the special effects he would later become famous for (such as time-lapse photography, substitution splicing, multiple exposures, and others).

"A Trip to the Moon" is arguably the first science fiction film ever made. Clocking in at around fifteen minutes, it was also Méliès' longest work to date, and cost him around 10,000 francs to make. He credited the inspiration of this film to Jules Verne novels, such as "From the Earth to the Moon" and "Around the Moon." Historians have also argued that they believe H.G. Wells' "The First Men in the Moon" to be another.

The plot of the movie is not going to sound like the most intricate story ever written, but that's far from the point here. Astronomers get together and devise a plan to get to the moon. The group gets in a capsule and fires off into space, crash landing into the moon's eye, and creating one of the most iconic moments in movie history. What moment am I talking about, you ask?

Yes, that moment.

If you take anything from reading this blog, let it be this standout and highly influential moment. Once again, Méliès' use of effects (namely the substitution splice, which allowed the capsule to immediately appear crashed into the moon's eye) did the talking, as this moment would soon never be forgotten. Do you remember the first time something truly stood out to you in a magical sort of way? Something that changed your perception of what a medium could actually be about, and opened your eyes to a beautiful world of imagination and discovery? Something that you took with you for the rest of your life, it impacted you so heavily and wonderfully? For thousands of people in the early 1900's, this was that moment.

Once reaching the moon and getting out of the capsule (noticeably without any kind of space suits), the astronomers decide to camp out, while watching the Earth rise and other constellations form around them. The big dipper even appears in the form of human faces on each star. The goddess of the moon (named Phoebe in Greek mythology) appears on a crescent moon, and wakes the astronomers up with a snowfall. They quickly find shelter in a cave (while encountering giant mushrooms along the way), and get attacked by creatures called Selenites, again named after a Greek moon goddess. One of the astronomers quickly hits and kills one of the Selenites instantly, showing that force is enough to take them down (as indicated by a "poof!" effect with each kill). The astronomers become outnumbered however, and are taken to a palace, where the king of these Selenites resides. Quite quickly, one of the astronomers gets the upper hand, and actually manages to grab the king, and slam him into the ground, causing another kill explosion.

In the chaos of this attack, the astronomers make their way to the capsule, fighting off any Selenite that may come their way. Five of the six astronomers make it into the capsule, while the sixth remains outside. The final astronomer uses a rope to actually tip the capsule over, in order to make it fall back to Earth. Now keep in mind that Méliès was not out to be scientifically accurate. In fact, if you hadn't already guessed, this film was a complete satire on scientific concepts, greatly exaggerated in order to create the adventure you see before you. Some believe this was done intentionally, to remove the limitations of "logical thinking" from the film making process.

Falling back to Earth (with a Selenite who happened to grab on to the capsule at the last second), the crew lands in the ocean and is picked up and brought ashore. The final scene consists of a parade being held for the astronomers to celebrate their return to Earth. The Selenite is held captive and the final shot is of a podium with the phrase "Labor omnia vincit" ("Work conquers all") written on it.

While obviously not a complex film by today's standards, the work put into the story and set pieces was quite exhaustive. Much of the scenery was mechanically operated and all of the backgrounds were hand-painted. People who have become bored or even disgusted by the constant use of computer-generated effects in today's movie market, may also find something to appreciate here. The effects in this movie were made using simple camera tricks and some seriously outside-the-box thinking, and yet I find them invoking more creativity than just about anything I've come across in recent years. As a fan of the original Star Wars Trilogy, I found myself getting more and more disappointed with each re-release that George Lucas would put out, tampering with material that many felt was perfect just the way it was, and replacing some of the more creative effects with excessive computer-generated usage.

It's not that I'm against the use of CG in today's movies (far from it in fact), but I feel that it has been abused to the point where almost all of the imagination factor that made classic films stand out so prominently, has become very few and far between in today's day and age. Movies such as this remind me of where we came from. They reinvigorate a sense of creativity and passion in a way that nothing else can.

You may have noticed some of Méliès' influence recently, in the form of the now famous book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and the preceding movie, "Hugo." This actually pays a very sweet homage to the man that changed the face of film forever. Even Walt Disney could not help but give credit where credit was due.

In his lifetime, Georges Méliès made over 500 films. For one of those films to stand out so prominently from the rest, it shows us just how special the movie truly was. If you see any work of Méliès' in your lifetime, make it this one. See the sights that captivated so many back then, and you may even see something new within yourself.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Classic Film Blog: An Introduction Before We Get Started

Welcome fellow movie-goers! I've covered a lot of territory in my blogs, whether it be thoughts on music, recent movies and shows, animation, comic books, or other mediums that have made up my very being. While I do love these properties very dearly, I still feel I can do more. Well, that's just what I plan to do now! I've long been a fan of cinema as well, though you may not even know it! My favorite film of all time, for example, is a German silent film from 1927, Fritz Lang's Metropolis! There are many companies that exist today, for the sole purpose of getting these amazing movies out to the masses. For those who don't know, The Criterion Collection is an American motion picture production company. Their purpose is to focus on licensing and distributing "important classic and contemporary films" for fans like us. Another favorite company of mine, Kino International, also goes to great lengths to restore many classic works of art, for us to enjoy and take with us. I've always found it really alluring to learn about classic films and literature. It's one thing to read/witness a work of art; but I feel it's another thing to examine what went on behind these works as well.

And that is going to be the focus of these blogs. I intend to watch each and every classic film that I can get my hands on, whether it be through my own personal collection, or streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu (though I have been informed that streaming rights to Criterion Collection in particular will soon belong to FilmStruck, a new streaming service coming from the people behind the Turner Classic Movies channel, in the later part of 2016). With each film that I watch, I'll write up a new entry, talking about not only my thoughts on the movies themselves, but the stories behind them as well. I intend to talk about what made each movie relevant for the period it was released in, and try to discuss what we as film buffs can also take from them.

Depending on how well these blog entries go over time, I'd also like to consider writing posts on classic literature in the same vein. I'd like not to get too far ahead of myself of course, so I think I'll leave things off there. With each entry I post, I'll also end it by mentioning what my next blog will be about, so that you'll know what to look forward to each time I finish one up! I hope you all find this new venture to be as fun and enlightening an experience as I am hoping it will be, and enjoy this journey through cinema history together!