11 March 2019

#2LR: Captain Marvel

Her energy beams travel in straight lines, her morality is as straight as an arrow, and so are the fighter jets that she flies.  Now that there are a few vacancies to fill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe we welcome to the screen Captain Marvel.  Just as her twin-from-another-service-branch Captain America is unflinching and unswerving upon introduction so too is our dear Captain Marvel -- almost one archetype in two slightly different pajamas.  Film noir this most decidedly is not.

Because of the way that this movie has been constructed, like the Superfriends glass Citadel of Truth, any real discussion I have of this movie has to come with copious amounts of SPOILER SPACE.  I'll have some comments below this to give my opinions of the action but seriously, if you are planning to watch this and don't want to know any of the plot beforehand please skip to the end marker below.

Captain Marvel is well-constructed to be one of the capstones of the progress that has been made throughout the 2010s.  Within the first five minutes this movie jumps through the Bechdel test swimmingly.  We meet Veers, the future Captain Marvel, on the Kree homeworld meeting the Supreme Intelligence while getting worked over in a sparring match by her slightly smug trainer. Shortly after both her and Sensei Douchebag get called into a covert op.

Sensei Douchebag happens to also be Colonel Douchebag, the leader of this covert op, as this group of Kree are taking on some Skrulls to exfiltrate an embedded agent on another planet.  Veers gets captured by the Skrull so that they can tickle her medial temporal lobe with the machinery that Syndrome left over from The Incredibles a few years back.

After getting a few images out of her mind, Veers (so-called until she grabs the superhero mantle later) breaks free to try to kill some of the more expendable Skrulls.  She plus four Skrulls ends up crash-landing onto Earth since the Skrulls had indications from Veers' memory that this was where they needed to go.

They happened to crash-land on Earth in the mid-90s.  Between this and the Guardians of the Galaxy films, there are times that it feels like superhero movies are both nostalgia trips as well as chronicles of adults cruelly arrested in their development by outside factors.  After getting all misty-eyed at both the Blockbuster and the Radio Shack in the mini-mall, more action scenes unfold.

It is here on Earth that we also meet Young M*thaf*cka, Samuel L. Jackson, who is made up as if he's straight out of the 90s too.  He looks young enough to be Morgan Freeman's great-grandnephew.  After a car/train chase including some shapeshifting Skrulls, Nick Fury and Veers make it back to SHIELD HQ to witness an alien autopsy and work on their plans from there.

The next setpiece has to do with the airforce base where the previous Carol Danvers used to be a test-pilot on a rather secret project.  She pulls records along with yet another action sequence, where it's established that the Skrulls have infiltrated SHIELD.  Also tagging along at this point is a pleasantly plump orange tabby cat.  After this checkpoint, we move on to Louisiana to one of her coworkers and former friends, RAMBO!  Well, it's her name but it's not the Sylvester Stallone one you might be thinking of.  By the way, at this point Indiana Jones would be jealous of all of the various hops that the movie has taken.  I almost wish they'd included a map.

Here in Louisiana we find out the one and only real swerve that the movie gives us, other than "Rambeau" not being spelled with an X at the end.  (Come on Marvel, product placement!!)  If you haven't respected the SPOILER SPACE warnings above, you may want to make sure to skip from here...

last warning...

In this movie, the Skrulls are attempting to be peaceful.  Yeah, it doesn't match very well with what they were doing in any of their earlier setpieces from the space station to the car chase to the airbase.  Don't think about the first half of the movie when they start talking here.  It'll just make you kind of head-hurty.  They had plenty of opportunites to not act like overly-militaristic death squads but well, y'know, they didn't.

Anyway, we find out more of Veers' swiss-cheesed memory (cut to Sam Beckett nodding sagely) where it turns out that she was a test-pilot for Earth technology that was probably three full jumps ahead in the tech tree than Earth could have handled or was capable of.  Of course the research is manned by an alien, "Mar-velle", but still she's working with late-80s technology here -- this backstory happened just a bit after Li'l Petey Jason Quill was yoinked.  After a convenient plot device where one of the Skrulls upfits a US Air Force plane for extraterrestrial flight, we get some SPAAACE.

So now that we have the Kree and the Skrull effectively doing their respective heel and face turns, Captain Marvel now comes into being.  She, RAMBOeauxxx, and M*thaf*cka all go up to a hidden spaceship orbiting Earth which happens to have a ton of other Skrulls hanging out as refugees.  (Where's the beef here?  Or the veggies?  Or fruit?  Are they cannibals?)  The Covert Ops Kree team follows behind, another action sequence follows, and then we finally get the last pieces of the plot of the abduction of Carol Danvers -- after she crashed her plane on the last go-round testflight she destroyed the core that would power light-speed flight.  The resulting radiation all seeped into her (rather than Sensei/Colonel Douchebag) and instead of destroying her, gave her microwaves shooting from her hands.

After she destroys the Denver Boot keeping some of her powers in check she wipes the floor with the Kree and sends what Skrull are left on their merry way as Team Marvel blasts off again!  Nick Fury on the other hand has had his superhero cherry completely popped and starts descending on his path to paranoid spymaster, but not without some KITTIE SCRITCHIES first.

Ordinarily I would put up the "over" sign here but I really have to discuss the Kree/Skrull flipflop first.  I can't discuss this outside of the spoiler space though because it really is the only swerve in what is otherwise one of the straightest drives in cinematic history.  This is not Se7en, this is not Inception, this is a plate of cheeseburger plus macaroni.  It's not even gouda mac or anything.  You're either going to like it or hate it.  It is what it is and it won't compromise for you.

I had to reach back to my childhood for the next reference, but the Kree are at least protrayed as stereotypical star-bellied Sneetches.  If you don't have that Kree star on your chest you're not worthy.  The Skrull are definitely putting up a massive fight on their end too, and the movie did not do a great job of defining what either side is "for" other than Skrull desire to not be ruled by Kree.  There are white hats and black hats in this movie but that's all they are... without the extensive comic backstory you wouldn't think anything of this switch really.

I don't know how much of the extended metaphor will apply -- the Kree and Skrull-eetch battle may just be one of aesthetics only while the universe burns elsewhere for instance.  As well, Skrulls are rather famously previous antagonists and frankly it still seems as if there's time for them to be antagonists once again... but if you're looking for that level of nuance you're not in the right spot.


The point in this movie though is that you're not coming into the theater for a rich plot.  You're coming into this theater for action, possibly for some amount of 90s nostalgia, maybe for Marvel being "brave" enough to send a woman to lead a film ten years after they really should have to keep their street cred and two years after Warner/DC proved that it can be done exceptionally successfully.

It's just that this is pretty much the last major film before the last Avengers film comes out in literally a month.  This movie effectively introduced a character and *possibly* some sort of basis for further plot development, but really it's up to the next movie to carry the story far more than they should have to.  There's some comedy in here, quite a crapload of action, and the actors (Brie Larson and Sam L. M*thaf*cka) do well in their roles.

The moment of truth -- is this film worth your money?  For the first time, sure.  This is a summer blockbuster walking amongst the crocuses of March and there's a reason that they put so much budget into blockbusters.  You're not coming for the writing though, you're coming for the kicking and for Samuel L. Jackson's immaculately Bondo'ed face -- which probably took a third of that budget.

To this reviewer art is more impactful if it can be savored more than once and brings something fresh, new, and novel to a conversation.  Will this movie do that?  Naw.  You will rewatch this film under two circumstances -- viewing the entirety of the MCU or if you want to see a rock-em sock-em action flick.  It is what it is.  This movie travels into a straight line, like Captain Marvel's punches or Captain Marvel's energy beams or Captain Marvel's morality.

Without the allure of the MCU I would rank this movie closer to a 2.  It gets extra points as well for the action stuff when you just want to shut your brain down after a full day of adulting.

Final Rating -- 2.8

03 March 2019

#2LR - How to Train Your Dragon 3 - The End Credits

Hello again all!

I'm going to be resurrecting the #2LR Too Late Reviews for at least a little while -- I miss writing them and the main conceit of the concept (writing reviews "too late" to warn you) actually will be going by the wayside because I now have a reliable source for free movie watching.  I do apologize for the hiatus and I hope that you all don't mind.

When you want to go to a place to sit, relax, and drink coffee you can choose national chain stores or also the little cafe nooks that people sometimes tip you off to when taking time to actually meet up with a friend.  The national chains bring a certain level of quality.  Those lucky few have found a nice place that makes even better coffee and is far preferable to visit.

This movie series has always reminded me of the coffee place that's about fifty miles out of your way that your friend brought you to sometime.  The first cup of coffee you got here turned out surprisingly good and hopefully you'll get another cup just as delicious.  You wouldn't be there unless you're in town for some sort of other errand.  It's not your preferred home place that makes the best brew that you can count on, but it's at least better than the BarStucks. 

There will be copious amounts of spoiler space from this part, so feel free to jump ahead to the closing bracket for a few comments about the movie if you want to watch this yet also want to be surprised.

The town of Berk has undergone some major changes since the opening credits of "How to Train Your Dragon" lo these many years ago.  It's so lousy with dragons that it looks like your grandmother's dirty finch cage.  Seriously, at least fifteen percent of the human population has to pick up dragon guano on a minute-by-minute basis.  While they are near the ocean, water-dumping that amount of dragon dung would have killed all the fish in a fifty-mile radius.

As with How to Train Your Dragon 2, the dragons are back under attack.  In this movie though the denizens of Berk seem to be on the offensive first, as they are shown liberating a series of dragons from a veritable flotilla of ships.  The Vikings who had their ships raided (oh the irony!) appeal to a master dragon hunter for their aid in... well, capturing them all back?  They really did not go into a ton of reason WHY the dragons were needed really, and the dragon hunter is absolutely clear that he just wants to kill the main dragon of the series Toothless.  And yes, unclear motivations for the antagonists is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, almost as large as New Zealand being left off of world maps.

In order to avoid the dragon hunter the citizens and dragons all find an island elsewhere to live on that isn't as well-known as their previous location.  The main characters also presumably stop freeing dragons to try to keep their location hidden.  The dragon hunter has another plan though, which is to entrap Toothless with another (the only?) of his type for him to become enamored with.  The plan works and through various circumstances Toothless is ensnared.  After plenty of action sequences though, the movie along with the trilogy ends with a finality reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

**spoiler space over**

Seriously, this movie felt as if they recycled large amounts of How to Train Your Dragon 2.  The conflicts of both movies feel exceptionally close to each other.  You have a main protagonist who is bent on subjugation of others for nefarious ends.  Both movies featured plans straight out of the Underwear Gnomes' playbook.  The question marks in these plans was hiding quite a bit of stuff.

It seemed that there wasn't even a world beyond the universe of Berk, Dragons, and Bad Dudes.  The Bad Dudes are more often than not on boats... we never even see another *town* in this movie series.  What does this world consist of, one town of dragon-loving Vikings and effectively Waterworld throughout the rest of the world?  What are the dragons going to be used for?  Where are the stakes here?  The first movie in the set didn't really need to introduce more of the world than just the town of Berk because the conflict was so very localized, but once the movie series started importing antagonists from abroad the antagonists seemed to forget to import the rest of their world.

How to Train Your Dragon 3 was different in one major way though.  This movie was designed to be the last in the series and the writers placed certain plot points as barricades for anyone else ever resurrecting the main storyline of the movie.  I did not put this under "spoiler space" because the director has been saying for multiple years that they had designed the trilogy to be shut after three movies.  Crazily enough it was reported that they would be happy to allow spin-off stories in the same universe but I honestly don't see how they can do that because this universe is just so tiny.

Which is why your fifty-mile-away coffee shop is good really only for those times you are in the area.  The coffee there is pretty decent, it's worth going to when you're a few blocks away, but to intentionally drive for an hour and thirty minutes there-and-back for a cup of coffee?  Why?  To sit for an hour and a half through the third installment of this series... if you have a good reason for it, by all means.

And without further ado, feel free to watch this movie IF:

1. You enjoy watching stilted cougar-chasing straight out of the Stiffler's Mom playbook.  Seriously, it was even more delusional in this movie than it sounds as I type it.  I am totally not lying about this either.

2. Being better together rather than apart is a perfectly fine message for you and you're not species-ist... both main protags got their brides but can only ever visit each other from now on.

3. You have some pressing need for closure of the "How to Train Your Dragon" universe and have zero interest in thinking about how the village goes on living afterward... being without their primary antagonist/allies for the last 300 years.

4. Rewatching How to Train Your Dragon 2 isn't possible because you've worn through your DVD rewatching it already and you want something just slightly newer.

5. You still don't really mind that they gave characterization to effectively two characters in the whole series, three maybe if you could Hiccup's Dad who was killed in #2 but still manages to have a sizable supporting role in this movie as well.

(special points to Hollywood in this day and age, with the #MeToo movement and everything, giving about as much depth of writing to Hiccup's love interest over three movies as they gave to the girl-dragon they hooked Toothless up to in only one movie)

I have a four-point scale that I usually grade movies on, it's pretty simple really...

0 - totally unredeemable
1 - I might watch parts of it on TV, depending on the scene.
2 - I might watch the rest of it on TV if halfway through but not intentionally cue it up.
3 - I would get a copy and watch it occasionally.
4 - I would get a copy and watch it often.

This movie is pretty close to a 1, if only because I'd probably sit down for the last scene.  The battle scenes are meh, the message is internally inconsistent, and the universe itself hobbled.  Epilogue is fine though.  I would imagine that fans of the series would probably place this into a three trending to four, but unless you're a fan I wouldn't really bother.

(Crossposted at www.rebornknights.com)

14 December 2015

Mystery Science Theater is... coming back?

For those not in the know by now, Joel Hodgson started a Kickstarter campaign in November in order to fund a new production season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The principals have been cast  -- Jonah Heston as the human riffer, Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount as Tom Servo and Crow respectively, and Felicia Day alongside Patton Oswalt as the new Mads Kinga Forrester and TV's Son of TV's Frank.

The Kickstarter raised $6.3 million dollars between direct donations ($5.7MM) and add-on purchases ($600k) over the typical thirty-day open solicitation period.  The amount raised set a record for film/television projects, but just barely... by only a few thousand over the Veronica Mars film.  Joel Hodgson set a graduated goal, stating that $2 million was necessary just to get on the board with three episodes but that the ultimate target was a twelve-episode season, which would end up costing $5.5M.  Joel received that and a bit more, with all of the extra money raised going into creating two additional episodes to bring the first season up to fourteen episodes.  The final amount was gained through one of the goofiest trainwrecks of a telethon you'd ever watched.  This was even more awkward and technical-issue-ridden than the fake fictional one that "Weird Al" Yankovic envisioned in his movie "UHF".  Far less money, too...  And if there ever was a quintessential Joel moment, it was when he looked drowsy when announcing that the Kickstarter hit his *first* stretch goal of $5.9MM to get the thirteenth episode.  It was like watching him helm the Satellite of Love twenty years ago.

At present, there is no outlet for broadcasting these episodes.  However, being fully-funded for one season was Joel's goal so that he could literally bring "free" content to a provider and show the support of the show.  The provider would receive any sort of advertising revenue, with the hope that the advertising from the provider would induce the provider to fund more seasons, while being able to sell the show's audience to advertisers.  This brings us to the present day with the situation, awaiting Joel's post-mortem tomorrow.

So, the last month really did happen.  Fifteen years have passed since the Sci-Fi Network decided that they would not fund more episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Oddly enough, every single one of the principals from MST3k ended up going on to do projects that were.... just MST3k in different forums other than television.  Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy seem to be making a very good living from Rifftrax since 2006 (nine years!).  Joel reformed the old guard into Cinematic Titanic, which ran for another six years between 2007 and 2013.

It was always odd to me that these side projects ran for such a long time yet there was no ability or way to get MST3k on the air again.  Cable television has exploded with so many channels through the last five years, and now that Netflix and Yahoo are creating new content for delivery via internet there's even more media options available.  On top of that, according to Joel, MST3k was always a low-budget affair.  The very last time Joel was onscreen as principal riffer, "Mitchell", the crew simulated static on a video feed by literally tossing white shredded paper in the shot... they couldn't even afford the extra monitor and camera to film while degrading the signal in 1993.

Now, some outlet or another will get the opportunity to bid on this show... and they'll have a reel of fourteen episodes, multiplied by ninety minutes of footage -- twenty-one hours of content of a fully realized show, fully funded by fans, and all they have to do is add advertisements.  Joel's Ask Me Anything said that he conceives that the show can last another thirty years with support.  It seems though that the the only current support are the fans... who by the way ponied up an average of $120 per person in order to fulfill the Kickstarter campaign.

I can't help but be apprehensive for where this project will end up going.  New riffers means that there will also be people that need to learn how to write riffs for movies.  Joel made the point that he tapped people from a wide range of previous occupations to write for him (and yes, sadly neither of your blogging hosts are on the list....), and these people will need to get up to speed.  Every single character is new and will need to be fleshed out, given a solid voice, and will need the sympathy of an audience in order to get away with some of the funniest riffs... putting three Donald Trumps in a shadowramma would end the show very quickly.  And this is on top of the fact that the show is cheap, has a built-in audience, and has had multiple successful online knockoffs through the last decade and a half but has not been brought back to television in any way, even by someone that was considered to have a business acumen (Jim Mallon).

One last point to make about the reboot is that this is happening with what seems to be an all-West Coast cast.  All of the guest-stars and guest-writers are also in the showbiz mold, having earned fame from other projects.  I don't know a whole lot about the new writing crew, bit the hope is that they can bring some balance to the finished project.  The writers used to be proud that they were performing in a "midwestern puppet show", and I am not sure how it will go if they lose the sense of confrontation and being wayyyy outside the halls of coolness that Minneapolis brought them.

This is not to say that I didn't put my money down on the table.  I anted up for this project, and I don't exactly have a lot of pocket change that I can devote to things like this... and the main reward that I was looking for from the Kickstarter will not be available until fifteen months from now.  Joel is helming the project and I am hoping that he can train up the next denizens of the Satellite of Love and Deep 13 into a fighting force.  And to be perfectly truthful, when I heard that Patton Oswalt was involved, it made me feel at least a little bit better.

So the Satellite of Love will float on.  I also hope that it will float on for many years to come... I love the characters, I love the concept, and I do still enjoy writing my own content within the idea of the show even if there's not a lot of time to produce free content within my schedule anymore.  I may even meta-MST some of these new episodes if the time and fancy strikes.

Though apprehensive, I am hopeful that this is the right time for Mystery Science Theater 3000 and that the show will work well.  In this day and age a provider only needs to market to perhaps two million people to get enough support and profit in order to keep a production going.  Even with the likes of Rifftrax around, I hope that both Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be able to find the audiences and support it needs to do battle with pop culture into next Sunday A.D.  (And yes, I'm still available to write!  Follow the link above to my portfolio!)

13 December 2015

#2LR Too Late Reviews -- Europa Universalis IV (EU 4)

Weirdly enough, strictly speaking this is not one of my too-late reviews... the thoughts that I have below are directly related to changes that Europa Universalis IV has undergone since I've purchased the game in March of 2015.  I bought EU4 during one of the discounted Steam sales.  I had heard that it was more complex and interesting than Civilization V, which is definitely one of my favorite strategy games of all time.  The reviews weren't kidding, EU4 was complex and it has a learning curve associated with it.  This learning curve was not helped by the fact that I had an extremely hard time finding any sort of instructions for the game... I played it for about two months until I realized that I could do diplomatic annexations of vassals, for instance.

I was finally getting the hang of the game though, until I ran into the dreaded update cycle.  The developers pushed out an update to the gameplay of EU4 (titled "Common Sense").  When I read about the update it seemed like it would bring a lot of interesting things to the game.  But when I opened the game and started to play it, I was even more confused over what was happening in the game, going to the forums to try to figure out how things were happening, even going to Youtube.  And that's when I found out that unless you paid for the "full" DLC upgrade rather than just getting the pushed-out half-updates, you wouldn't get all of the interesting benefits.  And as far as I can tell, waiting out any of the DLC is not worth it... the developers will still charge for the previous DLC even though they've pushed out a new DLC, so there's no benefit to try to hang on through the game's updates when you don't have much money to spend.

I have played EU4 for a bit over 100 hours, while I have played Civ 5 for somewhere close to 1500 hours.  And there are two reasons that I can play Civ 5 for far more time and have started far more Civ 5 games.  The first is that while the Civ 5 folks have put out paid DLC upgrades to the game, they don't alter the gameplay for the people who don't want to pay for the DLC upgrades.  And the second is that I feel that Civ 5 has a lot of replayability compared to EU4, in that Civ 5 has multiple different ways to "win" the game, where you have to manipulate all of EU4's different strategies in service to basically one goal, expansion... for instance, I have won games in Civ 5 with only one city, but I do not believe that it's possible in any way to "win" a game of EU4 with only one province, or to build a military purely to dissuade others from attacking.

The last note might be related to only having played EU4 for a bit over 100 hours and only against the computer on "normal" difficulty.  However, I would have thought that by this time I would have understood the mechanics of the game much better.  I continue to end up with bad beats rolling dice on military expeditions.  There are more than a few times that I have declared war as a stronger country against a weaker country only to find out in the next forty-five minutes that I can't win... and when I restart the game and try to use the knowledge I just gained from the previous forty-five minutes, I'll get defeated in a new and less creative way.  I can tell stories of armies skirting my main force, of getting beat to a province by a day but getting the complete and full crossing penalties in the subsequent fight, of defeating a lesser force to only 5% of their morale only to have a far larger force join in the nick of time to completely upend the battle, of having better generals and equal forces yet losing anyway, and having my allies never consolidate their forces with mine against my foes when my foes consolidated all their forces the whole time.

TL;DR: I had thought that I was right in the wheelhouse of this game's target audience.  I love history, I love geography, and I enjoy the alternate histories that EU4 can spawn.  However, between an inability to learn the game over 100 hours, not being able to pay for each DLC that comes out, and the fact that the game is somewhat broken without the DLCs, it's not worth playing unless you have a LOT of time and the money to keep up with the updates.

This review has been cross-posted to some Steam board or another as a review.

24 January 2015

#2LR Too Late Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I suppose if anything was going to get me to write Too Late Reviews again, it would be a show that I obtained a couple years ago and didn’t bother attempting to watch for thirty months.  Better yet, I finished watching this show about two months ago and didn’t bother writing anything about it until now.

The anime series that I will review today is the show “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”.  Yeah, it’s not the best title for an anime.  I’m going to be quite hampered in writing this review by the fact that this show is one of the best misdirection shows that I’ve run across.  I suppose that the best thing to do in order to review the show is to write a paragraph describing the things that the show does generally and then to put up a “spoiler space” sign below so that I can discuss the plot on more depth.
The back-of-the-envelope summary of this show is that it is a magical-girl anime. Middle-school girls are tasked with the protection of the world against creatures that would do havoc to the people around them.  While the animation in the “real world” segments of the show is conventional, when the magical girls are fighting their foes, the animation changes to a hybrid of CGI and the previous 2D, and the segments are very interesting as a fan of design. 

The other point to make about this show is that it is very short, only twelve episodes.  This is an anime that can be consumed in a very short time, over a single Saturday if you so choose.  The shortness does help, it’s a complex show and the viewer may very well want to rewatch the show, I know that I really wanted to see it again when I finished the first time.  If I may though, I think that the best method is to watch one episode every day or perhaps two at the most, because it’s also a show that needs to be digested.  Its short length means that the plot goes by pretty quick and if you run it through too quick, you may miss a couple of rather important points. 

It’s hard to come up with a good analogy with this show, because it is legitimately one of the first shows of its kind that I watched.  This show is like watching a building come together.  The show builds a solid foundation, gets to work on its first floor, builds out a fascinating plot, and then next thing you know you realize that the foundation is completely different than you realized at first, but that the building is that much more fascinating as a result. As previous warning, about the only complaint that I had about this show would be its ending… but the complaint is minor, and the show itself is worth watching just for the imagination put into the plot and the design work.


As before, this IS a magical girl anime.  Madoka is the sweet little girl of a rich family in Japan, whoise mother is a kick-butt VP and her father is a stay-at-home dad to her baby brother.  She goes to school at a rich private academy with all the latest in school gadgets.  A new student comes in, who has been “sick” for the last couple semesters, and she (Akemi) takes an immediate interest in Madoka.  While Akemi needs medicine at the nurses station (and knows where it is, oddly) she also manages to be the best athlete.  Akemi also manages to drop cryptic warnings to Madoka about only being who she should be.

Madoka ends up getting into trouble later and runs into the ‘cute anime mascot’, Kyube (think Q-Bay), who was hunted by someone.  It turns out that the hunter is a huntress – Akemi.  Akemi lets Kyube go, but not without more warnings to Madoka. In the meantime, one of the evil beings in this anime – witches – shows up and causes havoc. Madoka and Kyube watch as Mami, a magical girl, takes care of the problem. Mami and Kyube know each other, and Mami serves as the first backstory guide.

In essence, Kyube helps these girls to become magical girls, and also gives the girl a wish in exchange for her services.  The girl then starts to fight these witches, who when defeated drop “grief seeds” that allow the Puella Magi to recharge their magic. 

Mami is rather clear-headed about the whole process, talking to Madoka and her friend about the choices that they have to make about becoming Puella Magi.  Madoka is content to listen mostly to Akemi’s warning, but her friend does decide that she’s going to become a Puella Magi, and uses her wish to wish that a classmate she has a crush on is healed from his injuries in an accident, allowing him to play the violin again.  With that, Madoka is pulled ever more deeper into the story… even though she’s not defeating any witches, or having any of the story elements affecting her… … yet…


The plot starts running fast and furious at this point, and I really can’t do this show justice if I keep reviewing the action.  Suffice it to say that this is one of the few shows that display actual consequences to characters’ actions and that this is also one of the few shows that I have seen that really raises the stakes and ends up being somewhat of a roller-coaster through the end of these twelve episodes, including the redemption of characters that come straight out of left-field.  Practically everything in this show is explainable and logical, and for someone who reads thin plots as a matter of fandom, I was floored.

There is no sequel planned for this show. In a way, that is actually somewhat satisfying, because if ever there was a self-contained story with few loose ends, this is it.  If you are a person that wants to find out what happens to the characters “after” though, you might be slightly disappointed.

This review might not be as humorous as past reviews, but I definitely want to show how much I regard this show. It receives a 4.0 on my four-point scale.  This is because if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to watch this show again to see all of the little clues that added up to the ending that was written for the show and realize the subtlety that the writers and director used… and if you’re a writer or similar, you might find some awesome hints for good writing in the future.  This show is highly recommended.

24 October 2014

Let's Play/MST... Witch Night

Hey guys, long time no post!

It's been a busy last few months for me but the last couple of weeks have been busily spent producing my second Let's Play of the AGS Game 'Witch Night' in time for and in honor of Halloween. Zoogz and I both wrote the script and my sister KizzyCaspy and I performed the voices. You can find both the Let's Play and the Blooper Reel on YouTube at the following links:

-- Let's Play... Witch Night

-- Blooper Reel

All comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated and we sincerely hope you enjoy it. :)


Megane 6.7 and Zoogz

02 April 2014

Post-mortem of the #CancelColbert situation:

I very rarely get exercised about things as they happen nowadays.  My whole presence on the Internet is predicated on trying to analyze things after-the-fact, to try to come up with new ways of looking at old movies, or fanfiction that has been published before.  After all, writing a too-late review means that there's something to try to add to the discussion that happened months/years/decades ago...

In some ways though, I'm more than happy to write about an issue related to Twitter that happened only six days ago.  This is the Internet, and as far as the Internet is concerned the issue is pretty much over.  It's Twitter after all.

The issue in question is the #CancelColbert tag that was propagated over the weekend by quite a few Internet activists.  I read about this story from more than a few angles, and I might suggest reading the Wikipedia page of the originator of this line of tweets, Suey Park, in order to get some of the story behind her and what she does to bring issues to the attention of others.  The link section has some articles, though if you're reading this more than a couple months in the future they may already be down.

There is an alternate point of view to the articles as well, which are fairly sympathetic to Suey Park's point of view.  Another person on Twitter posted about Suey Park's past tendencies and Tweets, and the article can be found by through going to her blog, Joslyn Steven's Opt Out.

The issue can be summed up rather quickly.  On The Colbert Report, Wednesday March 26, Stephen Colbert reported on the Washington Redskins (football team) owner Dan Snyder.  The Redskins were named the Redskins in the 30s by their owner back then.  In this more enlightened day and age, the Redskins have obviously never changed their team nickname, despite at least some pressure to do so.  Snyder very recently set up The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in order to provide financial support to Native Americans.  Colbert told a joke on his show which compared this act to setting up the "Ching-Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever".  In the show, he also topped it off by doing his impression of a man trying to be as racist against Asians as possible.

The show on Wednesday didn't cause the ruckus... a follow-up tweet on Thursday Night that included the following did: "I am willing to show #Asian community I care introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever".  At this point, the #FireColbert tag was instigated by Suey Park, posting on Twitter by retweeting this tweet and telling her followers to "trend it".

The aftermath of the situation included Colbert disavowing the tweet, which was honest... it originated from a Comedy Central staffer, as the tweet was an official "show account" rather than Colbert's personal account.  Colbert took to the air on Monday to address the situation, saying that he bore no responsibility for the tweet, and the "show account" was quickly removed.

So.... why am I here then?  What dog do I have in the fight?  Well, my largest issue in this matter is this; I have watched The Colbert Report and I enjoy Stephen Colbert's work as well as his writers -- the list of whom can be found at Wikipedia here, they really deserve a lot of credit for Stephen's ability to tell good jokes consistently.

I have never heard of Suey Park prior to this, and while some of the research on her was not positive (such as what was posted by Joslyn Stevens), when I viewed her Twitter account, she was using her bandwidth to try to raise money for charity rather than making any money from all of this.  She also did endure a bit of a backlash from people who were not the most respectful in tone.

It's not as if there's a clear-cut "bad guy" in this.  Stephen Colbert tried to illustrate how ridiculous Dan Snyder's attempt at healing is when he's not willing to do more than token efforts.  Suey Park tried to illustrate how racism is sadly pervasive, because the joke that Stephen Colbert used has been utilized in the past to demean others.  And after all of this, Dan Snyder manages to get off the hook for his own tone-deafness, while Colbert is obligated to try to defend himself.

What can someone do to try to reconcile their thoughts and feelings about this?  Well, it's to realize that not everyone will be right 100% of the time, no matter what.  (I'm sure you've noticed that of me and my typos over the years.)  My thought is that Suey Park should use more of her bandwidth to explore ways that she can call out people who are directly benefitting from racism.  Stephen Colbert's racism amounted to one joke out of the... near to how many thousands that he's told on the show.  He is not making a single dime from the "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation"... meanwhile, Snyder is raking in quite a bit of money from all sorts of shirts, mugs, and other memorabilia emblazoned with a racist caricature, and refuses to change this.  There's got to be some sort of level where the pervasive, money-grubbing, profit-seeking racism gets seen as a far larger issue than the joke that serves to HIGHLIGHT the money-grubbing, profit-seeking racism.

By the same token though, satire doesn't get to be utilized as a complete get-out-of-jail-free shield.  Of course Colbert was trying to highlight how tone-deaf Snyder's move was, but it's not as if this joke was the ONLY joke that could be told in this situation.  There's a full room of writers in the back, and there's times that they have to realize that yes, even the cringe-inducing jokes that elicit a weak chuckle might not need to be said.  Worse yet was Stephen Colbert's reaction to this.  Yes, he did not tweet it, but he absolutely did say it.  Yes, it was out of context... but that's what needs to be addressed.

Overall, I feel that the worst offender in this situation is Twitter in general as well as the news media that reports about Twitter.  There's too little actual reporting about what goes on in this country, ways that people gain their money either illegally or immorally... but we can absolutely stop our 24/7 coverage of the Malaysian Airlines crisis in order to cover this... non-news.  There's no context on Twitter because it's the very nature of Twitter.  This post is not 140 characters for a reason.  There's shades of gray that can't be drawn in only 140 characters.  Those shades of gray are absolutely vital to this issue, but they are completely absent.

Just know, that in this world there's space for satirists to call out the abuses of others AND there's space in this world for the viewers of this world to call out the satirists when one too many lines are crossed.  We need the Colberts to work on the big issues of the day.  We want the efforts of Suey Park and others to shine a light on our discourse, even if we think it is unnecessary or incorrect, so that we can reevalute if the joke is worth it, or if there's ways that we can try to help everyone, not just the people who "get the joke".

At least, that's my 7,086 characters.