Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nitpickery: Tron

Hey y'all.  I saw Tron again for the first time in years.  Last time I saw it was so many years ago that I barely remembered anything about it before.  It's nice to get a good look at it again and see what so many adults saw in it.

First of all, let me say that I like this movie.  The fact that I'm going to nitpick it does not change the fact that I really do like it.  It had a lot of fun elements, and it has that "retrofuture" look that I like so much.  The digital effects are deliciously dated and colorful, the metaphors were interesting, and it had a nice, slow introduction that most modern movies don't let themselves have time for.  The dudes in today's Hollywood seem to have forgotten that it's perfectly fine to set the scene before making the story go forward.

I do have a nitpick about the graphics, due to them being on the DVD rather than original VHS.  I don't like it when old graphics are "upgraded".  When the old graphics are shown as they are, they merely look like a different, strange art style.  When the old stuff is digitally cleaned up, it looks pretty dumb.  Though for the most part, the Tron cleaner-uppers did a much better job than the people who recently cleaned up the Star Trek episodes on Netflix.  If you watch the Netflix Star Trek episodes, it's very, very easy to see that the Enterprise is merely a toy.  On Tron, however, the only thing that really suffered too much was the solar sailor and a few other bits and pieces.

Quick summary: Kevin Flynn is a game designer whose works were stolen by a man named Dillinger, who then used the games to take over a gaming company.  Alan and Lora, two people who work for Dillinger, are disturbed by Dillinger's defense of a computer system called the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence that has grown intelligent enough to want to hack into the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, inside the computer itself, the society made of sentient programs is being oppressed by Master Control.  They're forced to play games that usually end with one or more programs "de-rezzing" -- dying.  Kevin Flynn hacks into a company computer to get evidence that his game ideas were stolen, but then is zapped by a laser and sent into the digital side of things.  There, he and various computer programs are forced to play video games, and the loser dies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Write Club: Things Not to Do

Hey y'all.  This is going to be the first of what I suspect will be an ongoing series of little things -- or not so little things -- writers do that are so dang irritating.  Sometimes it's so bad that I just can't keep reading. 

One of the things a writer can do to alienate the reader is talk to them as if they're children.  Even in children's books, this is unbearably irritating.  Y'know, when writers treat the simplest, most trivial metaphors are all dang clever.  And acting as if they know everything and have to make it much simpler sounding so you'll understand.

This is what Michael Coren, author of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Man who Created Lord of the Rings, has done.  Ugh.  There's nothing that can prove my point better than some quotes.  Here's the quote from the introduction, where Coren is talking about a survey done where Britain is trying to find out what book people feel is the greatest book of the twentieth century for England.  Of course, given the book, the survey obviously shows that LOTR won.  Coren then mentions some people who disagreed with the survey, calling them elites.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nitpickery -- Firefly

Hey y'all.  Do you like sci fi shows?  Then I suppose you've heard about this one show called Firefly, which lasted only one season, and had a movie.  I believe it was the Fox network that cancelled it, if I'm not mistaken.  Now, Fox is notorious for cancelling stuff, but this time, you have to wonder if they did it right.

Of course, you might be one of those fans that can see no wrong in Firefly.  I ask you at this time to set aside your enjoyment of the show and consider what I'm saying for a bit.  After all, it's good to see the other side of things once in a while, and it's always possible to enjoy something that isn't perfect.  For example, there apparently was once a blogger who claimed Captain Picard was a wuss.  Instead of getting offended, I examined some episodes of Star Trek: TNG to see.  He's not a coward, but he did have a hard time getting Deanna Troi's mother to leave the transporter room, and acts as if he's got no spine whenever she's mentioned.

But this isn't about Star Trek.  In fact, it's really unfair to compare Firefly to Star Trek, so I'm not going to do that...for the most part.  There's some storytelling aspects that are acceptable to compare.  However, Trek is generally idealistic and Firefly isn't, so I won't compare a lot.

So anyway, this series is the story of several future people flying around in their spaceship Serenity, doing various jobs legal and illegal, whatever happens to come their way and will earn them money.  They have to stay far away from the central planets, because the big ol' government has taken over and of course cannot be trusted.

Hm.  I wonder if that's a stereotype...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nitpickery: Heaven's Devils

Hey y'all.

Have you ever read a book and wonder how it got published?  The first time I did that (other than with school books...guh) was when I was reading Mary Higgins Clark.  She comes up with really great premises, like a criminal investigator who sees a victim that looks just like her, but the execution of it wasn't that great.  The endings are just too nice, wrapped up in a perfect little bow.

This is my official apology to Mary Higgins Clark.  She only somewhat deserved the things I thought about her, and even then people really do like endings with perfect little bows.  How else do you explain romance novels?  Just because her endings are that way doesn't mean she can't write.  She's able to connect with the readers through emotion, and that's got to count for something.

And that brings us to a recent read of mine: Heaven's Devils by William C. Dietz.  This is an official Starcraft fanfiction, and it's aimed to give us Raynor's backstory.  At least it....tried.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Make a Star Fox Sequel

Hey y'all.  So I've been watching let's plays of Star Fox let's plays lately, and now I'm watching Star Fox Assault.  It's really boring.  To watch anyway.  I'm not really going to get into a review of SFAs, but I'll just say that it's a bit lacking.  If you're trying to make Star Fox recover from that "Adventures" debacle, then maybe you should add features rather than cut them.

So a quick summary.  Assault was at least a little less ridiculous than Adventures.  You get to go more into the arwing, but there are a lot of foot and landmaster (tank) missions.  However, there is only one route to go, which is a betrayal of the main Star Fox gameplay.  The voice acting is annoying for several characters, and even where it's acceptable it just doesn't sound anything like the previous incarnations of those characters: Wolf and Leon in particular.  Also, the lines that they're given are very dumb, and the mission briefings are needlessly goofy.  And General Pepper has really creepy eyes.

But, on the plus side, it has good gameplay....hey, is that Fox standing on a wing of a space vehicle?  ...Okay...that's...logical.  Well, this is a video game, and it does look kinda fun.

That's not what this blog is about.  It's just that, while I've been watching the let's plays, I've been thinking of some ways to make the Star Fox franchise find its way again.